By Jeff Neuenschwander / June 5th, 2014
WHERE WE STAND TODAY
With the purchase of Victor Interactive – which included the rights to Bokujō Monogatari – and the merger with AQ Interactive – which included ownership of XSEED – Marvelous has exactly what it needs to be a worldwide gaming company. XSEED, now under the umbrella of Marvelous USA, has first crack at working on any games that Marvelous puts out. And with the addition of MAQL Europe, they can publish games in that region without the help of other companies.
The writing has been on the wall with this one. XSEED is the legitimate publisher that Marvelous coveted. They’ve been tested under immense stress and came out better for it. They earned the right to publish Rune Factory 4 last year and they’ve earned the right to publish Story of Seasons this year and any other Bokujō Monogatari game that comes.
But why isn’t it called “Harvest Moon: Story of Seasons”? Well, that’s because Marvelous, Victor Interactive, and Pack-In-Video – despite owning the series – never owned that name. Harvest Moon was purely a Natsume creation. They have always held the trademark to the name.
So why don’t they give them the trademark? Well, because Natsume has other plans.
That’s right! Natsume is creating their own entry into the Harvest Moon series… Well, maybe not the traditional Harvest Moon series. After all, it’s not a Bokujō Monogatari game. But it will have everything that most North Americans know about the series. They won’t know about everything previous I just listed. All most people will see is farming, the Harvest Moon name, and the Natsume logo.
Unfortunately, that leaves XSEED in a bit of a bind. Natsume may not have the IP, but they have the brand name recognition. In addition, both appear to be aiming at releasing their games late this year. And I bet if you have the average gamer look at them side-by-side, they’ll say that Story of Seasons is a copycat game.
Natsume is fighting back, and they’re fighting dirty.
WHERE WE GO FROM HERE
We are headed for a literal battle between “New” Harvest Moon and True “Harvest Moon”. It is quite literally a battle of the old guard versus the new blood, with either side having a claim to either qualifier.
On one side, you have Natsume, the veteran localizer that holds the trademark. They may not have the real Bokujō Monogatari game, but they have enough guile to make their case to the consumer.
On the other side, you have XSEED, the crafty newcomer that has gone through hell to get where they are today. They have the old series in their hands, but a name change may alienate the fans they’re looking for.
How will this play out? Well, there are a number of options. The first, and most obvious, is that Natsume’s Harvest Moon will destroy Story of Seasons based solely on name alone. Quality won’t matter as people won’t care about XSEED’s game.
The second would be that the results are flipped. Natsume, while having name recognition, has also garnered a reputation amongst gamers for their overzealous censorship of games. This would be a good chance to get back at the company by supporting Story of Seasons and helping the long-running series.
The third, definitely the one I hope doesn’t happen, would see both sides cannibalize sales from the other, resulting in both sides failing miserably and possibly neither side releasing another game like this in the West. An unfortunate result, yes, but not one without precedent.
The final one, and the one I hope happens, is that both succeed with a rivalry being born from it. Fans swarm in on both games and create a bit of a fanboy war that you wouldn’t see outside of the mainstream. With both sides seeing success, they come up with incredible sequels with awesome additions. In the end, everyone would win.
What a weird and strange turn of events. This article originally was written as an informative piece about why XSEED doesn’t have the Harvest Moon name. Thanks to this week’s news, it’s now about why we have this schism in the Harvest Moon series.
I truly hope both do well. We need to support niche games when they release, especially when it is games that could easily be withheld from us and kept in Japan. I honestly don’t care which one does better. I just hope that both do well and we get two solid franchises to look forward to.
Well, that, and I’ll totally fan the flames of war.
Harvest Moon: The Lost ValleyMarvelous AQLNatsumeStory of SeasonsXSEED Games