Welcome back to Jetsetter, Digital Trends’ weekly column looking at the world of import games and the international game development scene.
It doesn’t matter where you’re making games; if you’re planning to sell them, making money is a consideration in the creative process. Even the most beloved creative companies made their best work with the bottom line in mind. Shigeru Miyamoto would have never made Donkey Kong if Nintendo hadn’t been trying to find a way to milk some money out of a bunch of arcade hardware it had purchased.
Pursuing profitability shouldn’t be what upsets gaming’s most enthusiastic fans – it’s when companies cynically recycle ideas or make unappealing games and slap a familiar, once-creative name it to up its cred. Sadly many Japanese developers are turning to these tactics to earn their daily bread in the modern market. Capcom may be the worst offender.
Breath of Fire was always one of Capcom’s stranger series. The company was always known for its arcadey action and fighting games, not the slow-paced role-playing Breath of Fire traded in. The series was the brain child of Makoto Ikehara, who from 1993 to 2002 made Breath of Fire games, each one stranger than the last. The final game in the series, Breath of Fire 5: Dragon Quarter, is one of the most challenging and unusual games for the PlayStation 2. Today Ikehara is designing the Dragon’s Dogma series, the only original Japanese IP to come out of Capcom in the past five years, and Breath of Fire seemed dead and gone after Dragon’s Dogma became a success.
But Capcom has brought back the series with Breath of Fire 6. Rather than an intricate console role-playing game with art from Tatsuya Yoshikaw, the new entry will be a browser and mobile game with an art style reminiscent of Zynga’s Facebook games. CNET Japan describes it as an “easy touch type online RPG,” indicating it will bear almost nothing in common with past entries.
Why slap a storied franchise name on this type of game? Because it’s an easy way to get people to spend money on it. Is an online RPG for touch devices an easier sell than a complex single-player RPG in 2013? Sure, but that doesn’t mean a franchise should be maligned because of it.
Nintendo Wii U drowns under a global tide of disdain.
Nintendo may have to resort to more cynical methods of making money if its console business is going to survive in Europe. Digital Trends reported just days ago how dire Nintendo Wii U sales have been worldwide in recent months. The company sold just 160,000 Wii Us between April and June. That’s catastrophic by any measure in any market, but it’s even more shocking when you break down the numbers by region. 90,000 of those Wii Us were sold in Japan and 60,000 more were sold in Canada, Mexico, and the US. That means just 10,000 Wii Us were sold across the UK, all of Europe, and other countries like Kenya where the console is available. The Wii U isn’t even a niche product around the world. It’s a curiosity.
PlayStation 4 and Xbox One get a piping hot plate of Cricket 14.
Everyone with unusual sporting tastes here in the US should be thankful that Sony and Microsoft’s next gen consoles are totally region free, because that means they’ll get to bowl a wicked next-gen googly. Australian studio Big Ant Studios confirmed that Cricket 14, previously announced for PS3 and Xbox 360 abroad, will indeed be coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Get psyched, all five of you North American cricket fans!