Nintendo Urges Players to Vote with Their Wallets, Not Petitions

Reggie Fils-Aime makes it clear that Nintendo pays attention to fan campaigns, but doesn't let them direct the company's business plans.

News by Pete Davison, .

We've seen a number of times in recent years that fan feedback can and does make a difference to the games industry.

Prominent recent examples include the outcry over Mass Effect 3's ending, the controversy over Microsoft's original Xbox One policies and, more recently, fan feedback helping direct Microsoft's attention to which aspects of Xbox One's user experience really need to be adjusted, tweaked or just plain fixed.

It's not all about complaints, though; one of the biggest, most positive success stories in recent years was Operation Rainfall, a fan-led campaign that takes credit for the three excellent Wii RPGs Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story and Pandora's Tower making it to the West. Through organized letter-writing campaigns and other tactics, it seems like the group played a role in getting these distinctly niche titles released in English-speaking territories -- Europe first, for once, followed by North America some time later.

But now, some recent comments from Nintendo of America's president Reggie Fils-Aime, as reported by Siliconera, suggest that it's not quite so simple as putting pressure on companies such as Nintendo.

When asked whether campaigns such as Operation Rainfall influenced Nintendo's decisions as a whole, Fils-Aime noted that "it doesn't affect what we do."

Would we have seen Hironobu Sakaguchi's post-Final Fantasy The Last Story in the West without Operation Rainfall?

"We certainly look at it, and we're certainly aware of it," he clarified, "but it doesn't necessarily affect what we do. I'll give you an example. We had a bet around localizing Xenoblade. I wanted to bring Xenoblade here. The deal was, how much of a localization effort is it? How many units are we going to sell, are we going to make money? We were literally having this debate while Operation Rainfall was happening, and we were aware that there was interest for the game, but we had to make sure that it was a strong financial proposition."

Nintendo is a business, after all, so Fils-Aime's comments do make sense. There's little point in spending money on localizing a niche title if it will be unable to recoup its costs. However, at the same time it's also worth noting that there are companies out there like Xseed, Aksys and NIS America who specialize in this kind of content -- Xseed even ended up bringing Pandora's Tower to America rather than Nintendo -- and manage to sustain their business out of it. Nintendo is obviously in a slightly different situation to a straight-up publisher, being a platform holder and hardware manufacturer, but the experiences of these other companies do show that games don't have to sell multiple millions in order to be successful.

"I'm paid to make sure that we're driving the business forward," added Fils-Aime. "We're aware of what's happening, but in the end we've got to do what's best for the company. The thing we know [about petitions] is that 100,000 signatures doesn't mean 100,000 sales."

In other words, support the existing stuff that's out there and show that there's a demand for it, and more will follow -- as shown by the fact that we've already seen that Xenoblade developer Monolithsoft's next project X will be coming to Western territories as well as Japan. By all means continue to raise awareness and show support for niche titles -- but ultimately it's the money that talks, so after you've talked up a big game that you want to see released in the West, make sure you remember to actually buy a copy, hmm?

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Comments 11

  • Avatar for cscaskie #1 cscaskie 4 years ago
    Even though Operaton Rainfall didn't necessarily convince Nintendo to bring the RPG trio Westward, I think the big N learned afew lessons in terms of demand from the effort. The Siliconera article also mentions a pretty noticeable "big smile" when Reggie alluded to Monolith's current project. I highly doubt that the effort to localize the game that we know now as "X" will be nearly as drawn out and shaky as things were with Xenoblade. I think that an English version of that title is in the bag now.

    I'm also pretty convinced that the mystery game Reggie will show off for the Wii U during Fridays' VGX show will be "X". It would make sense to debut a title geared toward the traditional hardcore, more adult audience at that particular venue. Fingers crossed!Edited December 2013 by cscaskie
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  • Avatar for ob1 #2 ob1 4 years ago
    All right, Reggie, you ask us to vote with our wallet.
    It's not about money, it's about sending a message, innit ?
    Why not after all ?
    But, how can I "vote" for a game that doesn't exist ?
    How could I have bought more Xenogear before it was released in the West ?
    How can I buy more Dragon Quest VII when it's NOT available here ? And when the localization is in jeopardy ?
    Should I have to buy more some games I do NOT love in the hope to see the games I love coming ?

    Edit :@NintendoAmerica Reggie said petitions happens, but sales matter. So, how can I buy DQ7 when it's not buyable ?Edited December 2013 by ob1
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  • Avatar for docexe #3 docexe 4 years ago
    Reggie’s comments came as a bit dismissive in that interview, but ultimately he is right. Online petitions very rarely have any impact or effect on what companies do, mostly because of the same reasons that online polls have to be taken with a grain of salt: You don’t have any resounding guarantee that the same person didn't sign the petition more than once, neither how many of those people signing actually exist. The bottom line is ultimately what matters the most.

    For example, while the XBOne reversal might have been influenced by the fan outcry, I honestly believe the negative PR from many different and mainstream outlets (including the military of the US itself), the fall in preorders compared to the PS4 and Sony taking advantage of Microsoft blunders and milking them for all that was worth it, played a bigger part in the changes.

    Now, I think some of the pressure from Operation Rainfall might have played a role in those three Wii games being published in the West, particularly as the campaign ended up being more proactive than your typical online petition that merely consists on gathering signatures on a website. But I doubt it was the only factor, and ultimately, it should be pointed out that while Nintendo allowed the localization of the games, they used as much tactics as possible to diminish the financial risk (like distributing Xenoblade through a single retailer or ceding the publishing rights for the other two games to a publisher that already specializes in niche games).

    What I find interesting though, is that he seems enthusiastic about “X”. As far as I know, the guys at Operation Rainfall put their money where their mouth was (The Last Story was deemed by XSeed their most successful game when it debuted), so maybe the fans voting with their wallets might have indeed yielded bigger benefits.Edited 2 times. Last edited December 2013 by docexe
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  • Avatar for alexb #4 alexb 4 years ago
    Wasn't he just asking people to sign a petition to get him into Smash Bros. a couple of days ago? Well, not him. Whoever is pretending to be him for his twitter account, I mean.Edited December 2013 by alexb
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  • Avatar for nickn #5 nickn 4 years ago
    The Wii U is a perfect example of people voting with their wallet.
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #6 Funny_Colour_Blue 4 years ago
    Before Operation Rainfall, I did not know "The Last Story", "XenoBlade Chronicles" or "Pandora's Tower" even existed.

    I plan to buy these games once I purchase a Wii U.

    I think this is significant.
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  • Avatar for Guy-Guy #7 Guy-Guy 4 years ago
    @nickn You mean gambling?
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  • Avatar for Critical_Hit #8 Critical_Hit 4 years ago
    Reggie's a figure-head, nothing more. He's the guy that has BLOCKED releases like Soma Bringer - now he's trying to take credit for Nintendo of Europe's localization work? There is no way in HECK that HE wanted to bring Xenoblade over. The guy HATES games like this.

    He's all about the "blue ocean" strategy; casting out games that appeal to other demographics out there, like Wii Sports & Just Dance. Not a terrible thing in theory, but in practice, it basically boils down to cheap, stupid garbage that is easy to localize that they can sell to non-gamers and octogenarians. That fickle audience that has long-since abandoned their Wiis for tablets, smartphones and Kinect? This is why we got Fortune Street, for chrissakes'. A boardgame is cheap to localize and it was popular in Japan with all sorts of people; according to this guy, it should've been a slam dunk.

    "How much localization is it"? "How many units are we going to sell"? "Are we going to make money"? If these were things that affected all localization decisions, than how come we got Glory of Heracles? Why wouldn't they bring us Fatal Frame 4 - a known brand!? NOA has been insane all generation long, and if they really wanted to save money on localization, they'd continue to split the duties with NOE or companies like XSeed - they DEFINITELY don't need to localize everything themselves.

    Don't even get me started on how NOA abandoned Xenoblade IMMEDIATELY. Despite it debuting in AMERICA, at E3, THREE YEARS before it's western release, as "Monado: Dawn of the New World" (which is why the protagonist's sword is not called the Xenoblade). They are SO BAD at marketing, and PR, and supporting or nourishing anything these days. Just ask Wonderful 101, or LEGO City. Heck, Zelda Skyward Sword sold worse than Twilight Princess. The Wii launch game sold BETTER in North America than the years-later sequel, where the Wii's install base was above 80 million units sold worldwide.

    He's so full of crud. This part of the conversation makes me very grumpy. >:(

    But he IS right about petitions not (usually) yielding sales... though Xenoblade frickin' killed it at retail. Last Story did very well too. Both games sold out their entire shipments more than once, so... in this case at least, the audience DID vote with their wallets. Whereas the Wii Bowling audience has either died of old age or pledged their wallets and money to some other gimmicky junk by now. Prove me wrong, Redge - put out a PR statement about how many millions Wii Sports Club has sold so far :PEdited 5 times. Last edited December 2013 by Critical_Hit
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  • Avatar for Yossy #9 Yossy 4 years ago
    "Nintendo Urges Players to Vote with Their Wallets, Not Petitions" Be careful what you ask for; the Wii U just might get it.
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  • Avatar for reza666 #10 reza666 4 years ago
    As@nickn said "The Wii U is a perfect example of people voting with their wallet. "

    Even during Wii time i think if nintendo had listened they would have understood that the majority of gamers want to get a powerful hardware backed with great games and also they dont necessarily care about gamepad. Its a nice thing but honestly i rather have a powerful machine like PS4 and a great controller rather then something no thirdparty will support and a slower machine and a gamepad that wont last 3 hours game time.
    I was actually not going to buy WiiU but when i found out about Microsofts crazy DRM policy i figure i rather support Nintendo then MS so i did buy a WiiU but honestly next to my PS4 its going to be gathering dust most of the year. So far i see just 2 games i like and thats Mario 3D and Pikmin. Others i either have on my PS3/PS4 or i dont find interesting. Now if Nintendo had listened to gamers and the industry instead of being stubborn and backward they would have made a similar hardware as Sony/MS and we would have had the possibility to buy all the games other consoles offer plus exclusives. Now Nintendo wants to force thirdparty to make special version of games just for WiiU where it has a "special" controller and hardware architecture and other limitation in the form of less RAM, slower GPU and such. Why would they take such a risk specially when they have sold so poorly. So if Nintendo want people to pay with their wallet they have to understand the market and make consoles worth paying FOR! These days people can see through the BS and they want premium stuff not 7 year old tech! Fanboys will now argue graphic isnt everything but in fact it plays a big role in games, and why shouldnt it? developers can put more time on creativity rather then squeezing power from the console. And i do love a great story with a great visual scenery. Why do you guys always defend Nintendo for selling underpowered hardware? If we are to live with a console for 7 years or so then we need to have a hardware that last a loooong time. I do think WiiU is a good console but its not as good as it could have been. PS3/XB1 on the other hand are sort of 10 times better and mark my word they will have tons and tons of more games from developers and indie gamers due to better hardware and buyers. Nintendo is not in a position they can ignore the core gamers if they want to stay relevant in this industry.
    I have such a passion for the gaming industry being a gamers all my life and growing up with 8-bit Nintendo/Sega i do feel sorry the way things have turned so i wish they can turn the boat around before its to late.....
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  • Avatar for reza666 #11 reza666 4 years ago
    @lonecow so true, this guys is sort of a clown, i never liked him, contrary to MR Iwata he feels like a bully and really dont feel genuine to me. Its like i can see right through him and he dont feel like a gamer in my eyes but rather a sale guy who says the words without any emotion. Maybe just me but thats how i always perceived him.
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