Opinion: JRPGs Have Surpassed Western RPGs
For a long while, toward the end of the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii/U era, Japanese RPGs were struggling in the western market. As an avid JRPGamer, I got used to hearing about JRPGs that were smash hits in Japan that would sadly never make it here.
Or there were superior versions of the games that were released to the Japanese market. I’m looking at your PS3 released version of Tales of Vesperia.
PS, Bandai Namco, I still want that. Please and thank you.
Anyway, this was a scarce time for Japanese RPGs as devs were scared to bring their products to the west. I remember how much influence it took to get games like Tales of Graces F to be released here.
I think of Operation Rainfall, which one an effort to bring the some of Nintendo’s titles to the skeletal selection of JRPGs on the Wii/U.
The good news though is that these companies listened and as we came into the current gen of console gaming, JRPGs became a main staple of the gaming experience in the west again.
But now, JRPGs have not only taken the their seat back as part of the main genres, as of 2017, it snatched the crown that western RPGs had for quite a while.
Let’s look back at rpg gaming only a few years ago. In the time, we had major releases such as Fallout 4, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Witcher 3 come out. Each of these releases were huge successes for their respective developers.
Bethesda and Bioware mentioned in multiple interviews that these titles were their bestselling ones at that point in their finances. They collectively brought on a behemoth of open world rpg games, but also were so successful that some people even got open world gameplay exhaustion.
Fast forward to 2016 and the big kids on the block were Final Fantasy 15 and Persona 5.
Each of them had a big gap to fill. You see, with JRPGs being more niche for a good chunk of the previous console era, which is sad because many of us remember them having their heyday back during the Playstation 2 era, they had responsibility of reaching out not only to the veteran fans but the ones who hopped in during the last gen or two.
Final Fantasy 15 did this by creating the first FF game to truly embrace the open world style that games like Fallout 4, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Witcher 3, established as a mainstay.
They also had to deliver on the promise of still being a FF games. While the story itself does have its pitfalls, Square Enix’s recipe worked, if we’re looking at the sales numbers. It helped bring in a mix of new and old players.
Persona 5 was unsurprisingly a smash hit, but went the opposite route. It look what the JRPG genre is known for and shined and refined them. The combat was turn based, but there was snappy feel to it.
The story was undeniably really good (and really long, even by Persona standards). The stylish approach that was taken with the game also helped to gain the attention of many new gamers. For many gamers, it was their first JRPG!
Moving into late 2017, it’ll be interesting to see if JRPGs can hold onto their crown.