Celebrating the upcoming North American release of The Last Story as published by XSEED Games.

Monday, April 9th, 2012

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            Let me begin with a warning, this article will have a good amount of gushing love for a certain 3rd party publisher.  I first encountered XSEED games when they took over the North American publishing duties for the last game in the Shadow Hearts series (a favorite RPG series of mine, look it up).  Over the years I have come to adore this company that seems to care more about niche games than the almighty dollar.  XSEED has been a name we have thrown around often through the course of our campaign; they serve as a proof that niche business can still be sustainable.  But what I want to say most of all, is that XSEED won my heart when they announced that they would be publishing “Fragile Dreams: Farwell Ruins of the Moon” for Namco Bandai on the Nintendo Wii, from that day forward I have felt indebted to them.

When I started my article series “Pondering a North American release for The Last Story”, it was actually a single article, encompassing all 3 of the Operation Rainfall games.  I wrote a rough draft of the article that included the idea of 3rd party localization, and, of course, XSEED was a prominent part of the discussion.  Before I could begin my final draft I had learned of Xenoblade being confirmed for North America as a Game Stop exclusive.  Since a retailer exclusive was also a primary talking point of the article, I ended up shelving the whole thing as obsolete.  A few weeks later, we, at Operation Rainfall, began seriously discussing a whole month of “The Last Story” coverage known as “The Last Story month”.  In order to fill out content for this month long celebration of all things Sakaguchi, I decided to re-visit the concepts of my shelved article, but this time divided into 4 parts, focusing on a single game, and including a roundtable discussion.  That is the origin of “Pondering a North American release for The Last Story”.  The second article in the series of four was titled “Outsourcing: Benefiting from 3rd Party expertise while strengthening bonds”, this article addressed 3rd party publishing.  As was the case with the original article, X-Seed featured prominently, especially in the roundtable where the fandom many of us here have for the company began to pour forth.

On February 22nd, 2012 2 days before the end of “The Last Story month”, Nintendo officially announced “The Last Story” for North America… to be published by XSEED.  I felt it was appropriate to address this news with a new roundtable.  So without further ado…

Operation Rainfall presents:  a roundtable discussion on the upcoming North American release of “The Last Story” (catchy)

Keep Fighting!

Tyson, Operation Rainfall Co-Founder:

I am of course excited about the “Last Story” announcement.  That it is being published by XSEED instead of Nintendo also presents an interesting truth.  Nintendo is now willing to let 3rd party publishers handle their niche properties.  This could potentially mean great things for us, after all, Namco was similarly stubborn, but once they opened up to XSEED we saw a good number of games nobody expected to come to our shores.  Could this announcement just be the beginning of a healthy partnership? I certainly hope so.

Mike D., Editor for The Nintendo Enthusiast, former Operation Rainfall PR Staff:

To say I’m exponentially chuffed would be an understatement.  I think this is proof that Nintendo truly did pay attention to Operation Rainfall (otherwise they’d just publish it themselves), and it could also (hopefully) be foreshadowing for their future plans for niche-ier fare in the next few years.  Obviously, I’m quite pleased with their choice.  I don’t think they could have picked a better publisher than XSEED to bring The Last Story to North America.  And lest we forget, this is a big deal for them, too — they’re getting a chance at publishing JRPG royalty.  This is an important step for Nintendo, a crucial development for XSEED, and an intriguing time to be a fan.  Plus, as that prescient second article said, this is truly a win for everyone involved: Nintendo collects some licensing fees, XSEED gets a prestigious title to publish, and we all get to play it in North America.

Is it time to get greedy and hope for Pandora’s Tower?

"they (X-Seed) have proven themselves to be quite the “David and Goliath” of the niche video game industry" - Marko Mac, Current Co-Leader of Operation Rainfall

Ryan Tyner, Current Co-Leader of Operation Rainfall:

Well I guess I’ll start out by saying I was ecstatic when I found out Nintendo had decided to partner with XSEED to bring ‘The Last Story’ to the NoA region. I wasn’t even going to watch that Nintendo Direct video feed, thinking surely it would be a waste of my time. I did of course watch it, and I’m glad I did! I have to admit that I have never played a game that was published by XSEED. I know who they are mostly from hearing other people talking them up and from doing a little research on my own. Most of us at Operation Rainfall hoped Nintendo would make some kind of deal with a localization publisher, but I really don’t think any of us thought they would actually do it!

So what does this all mean? Well assuming that the partnership between Nintendo and XSEED for ‘The Last Story’ turns out to be profitable for both parties, I don’t see why this partnership wouldn’t continue on to other games. It seems Nintendo realizes that XSEED specializes in making niche games profitable. Nintendo either can’t or doesn’t want to deal with niche titles in the Nintendo of America market. Now that they can hand that job over to XSEED, I can imagine localization of Nintendo published games not being much of an issue anymore. Why not Pandora’s Tower next? Surely XSEED realizes that many of the people that will buy ‘The Last Story’ will also buy Pandora’s Tower because of how they were grouped together by Operation Rainfall. Nintendo of Europe recognized this a long time ago, made evident when they had their contests in which they grouped all three of the Operation Rainfall games together.

Alex B., Editor for Nintendo Enthusiast:
I have a lot of reasons to be really excited by XSEED picking up The Last Story for release in North American, and playing it isn’t even one of them – along with Xenoblade Chronicles, I am already playing and loving The Last Story. What really makes me froth is the prospect of seeing XSEED picking up future niche games not only from Nintendo but from other big players like Namco.

This breakthrough of XSEED, coupled with the limited release of Xenoblade Chronicles through GameStop, give me a lot of hope for a localization of Pandora’s Tower, possible future localization of games in Namco’s “Tales of” series, and if the sales of Xenoblade and The Last Story are high enough in North America, the guaranteed localization of MonolithSoft’s upcoming WiiU and 3DS games.

"I would hope a partnership between these two companies will signal a more open approach on what gets localized." - Richard Ross, Current Co-Leader of Operation Rainfall

Marko Mac, Current Co-Leader of Operation Rainfall:

I’m going to jump in and simply agree with all of you and say that this can only mean good things for Nintendo and fans of so-called “niche” games. But one point I want to expand on a bit comes from a few experiences I had when we very first started the campaign.

One of the very first things I did upon becoming part of the Operation Rainfall administration team was to email various publishers to ask about the possibility of localization of the three campaign titles. Not all of the publishers responded, and some who did could not offer comment. But a few companies that had the liberty expressed genuine interest in both the games and the Operation Rainfall campaign, and some even offered a bit of helpful advice from the inside of the industry.

Again, to sum up, this was a huge victory for XSEED Games. Even with the solid reputation they have for bringing over quality titles, they didn’t think they would be able to topple the mighty Nintendo. But, they have proven themselves to be quite the “David and Goliath” of the niche video game industry, and have won over Nintendo themselves, on top of legions of fans. To put the icing on the cake, this is the latest masterpiece of Hironobu Sakaguchi himself, and the most critically acclaimed game XSEED has had the privilege to publish. This is quite an honor for any publisher, and only spells good things for the future. It means they will have access to more funding and possibly be a publishing candidate for other high caliber games in the future.

As for the Operation Rainfall campaign, now our job is to “put our money where our mouth is” and make sure the game sells. Then this will surely be a victory for fans on “niche” games everywhere.

Richard Ross, Current Co-Leader of Operation Rainfall:

I’m not going to pretend I know much about XSEED, I own a couple of their published games such as Fragile Dreams, Little King’s Story and The Legends of Heroes: Trails in the Sky.  I would hope a partnership between these two companies will signal a more open approach on what gets localized.  I would hate to see anymore games get cast out of the North American market because they simply don’t know how to sell them.  There’s honestly not much more I can add that hasn’t already been said!

In Conclusion:

To say we are excited about XSEED publishing The Last Story is an obvious understatement.  As you can no doubt tell, we have a ton of faith in the niche specialist publisher.  But most of all, we are excited at the prospect of what this could mean for the future of niche game publication, particularly in relation to Nintendo.

I would like to thank Mike, Ryan, Alex, Marko, and Richard for participating in this roundtable.  I must apologize to Chris, who we were unable to include in this round due to scheduling conflicts.  We at Operation Rainfall would also like to thank Nintendo, Monolith Soft, Mistwalker, AQ Interactive, and Ganbarion for making the games we are so passionate about.  Last, but certainly not least, we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to, supported, and covered Operation Rainfall since it’s inception last year.  Keep fighting!