Last year, in an interview with GamingBolt, Michael Pachter famously said that Japanese games are a non factor to the larger market. However, this year has been a tour de force of Japanese gaming, with the highest rated games of the year being Japanese, most major releases being Japanese, and even some of the highest selling games being Japanese.
In fact, even the more niche releases like Persona 5 have managed to sell nearly 2 million units- so does Mr. Pachter still think that Japanese games are ultimately irrelevant to the larger market?
“Yes, Japanese games don’t matter in the larger scheme of things,” Pachter said in an interview with GamingBolt. “You are talking about 2 million units, I mean, a piece of crap like Mafia 3 sold 5 million units, and that game is a piece of crap. So, no, 2 million units is a rounding error, that doesn’t matter. No one is making money off of that.
Pachter made it clear that he did enjoy Persona 5, which is the most Japanese game there is- but he also said that he has no misconceptions about its larger mass market appeal. “Persona 5 was really, seriously, the first Japanese game that I liked in years, outside of Kojima and Nintendo stuff. But no, I don’t think it matters. There’s going to be the occasional Final Fantasy that will sell like 8 or 10 or 20 million games, but the Japanese games that ultimately work are games like Metal Gear, the ones that have a western appeal to them, those are the ones that have mass appeal. The ones that have Japanese appeal, don’t have mass appeal, and they don’t translate well to other cultures.
That said, he did concede that Persona 5 probably met Atlus’ own expectations. “I mean, I am sure that Atlus is happy with the 2 million units that Persona 5 sold, that’s a success for them.”
But what about Nintendo? We brought up the point that Nintendo does not hew towards a western aesthetic, and that its games remain among the most successful in the industry.
“I would say Nintendo is the exception that proves the rule- if you were a Martian, and you had never seen a video game before, and I showed you a Nintendo game side by side with Persona 5 or Final Fantasy, you would not think they are from the same place. They don’t look alike at all. Nintendo has its own style, just like Disney cartoons have their own style, there’s something about them that’s different. I don’t know what it is, but no, it’s honestly… Nintendo has got an approachable, family friendly fun, whimsical… I mean, the big controversy at E3 was that Mario is using a gun in Mario + Rabbids, because it is so not like Nintendo. So Nintendo is a completely different company, they are the closest thing to Disney Japan has. Everything they do is completely different from everything everyone else does, the rules don’t apply there. They are the exception that proves the rule, no one in Japan makes anything like that, except for maybe Sonic.”
So there you have it- Pachter’s opinion still has not changed here. What do you think, however? Personally, I think that while an individual Japanese game may not count for as much as an individual western AAA release, cumulatively, having a lineup of Japanese games like Persona, Nioh, and Nier can definitely help a system’s appeal- see also, just how fantastically well the PS4 has performed this year.