Fire Emblem Fates released in North America last month and suffice it to say the game performed incredibly well in the territory. In its first month on sale, one version of the game reached the ninth place spot on the NPD charts. In fact, if you combine sales of Birthright, Conquest, and the special edition of the game, sales would have reached the top 3 for the month. Not only that, Fire Emblem Fates was so incredibly successful in its first month that it more than tripled the first-month sales of the second highest-selling game in the franchise: Fire Emblem: Awakening.
Meanwhile, the game garnered love from the critics. The current Metacritic average for Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright is an 87, while the average for Conquest is an 88.
With all this success from a supposedly “niche” franchise, Nintendo can learn quite a bit from the release of Fire Emblem: Fates. Perhaps if the company can take these lessons to heart, it can create more behemoths out of previously unappreciated franchises.
1. Quality is important
For those that have followed Nintendo releases closely over the past year or two, many have come away disappointed from titles that had a good brand name, but were ultimately low in quality. Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival, Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, and even Chibi-Robo all had brand Nintendo names that should have drawn buyers in the thousands. Unfortunately, sales of all these titles were nothing short of a disappointment. None of the titles hit the top 10 on the NPD charts, and leaked sales for the titles placed them at quite the dismal performance.
If games with Mario and Animal Crossing in the title cannot sell on the name alone, then Nintendo should take this as a huge lesson in their future releases. Perhaps a half-done game is not worth the resources in the first place. If Nintendo learns anything from Fire Emblem Fates, it is that gamers will gravitate to good games, regardless of whether they have the huge brand name or not.
2. A great entry title can boost a franchise
Although Fire Emblem has been around as a Nintendo franchise for quite a while, it never was held in the same sort of conversation that other major Nintendo properties were held. That changed with one game – Fire Emblem: Awakening.
Fire Emblem: Awakening took a franchise and re-introduced it to a largely unfamiliar western market. The game contained a casual mode, for those players that may have not been looking for a terrifyingly hardcore experience. The game was received very well critically too, which substantially helped boost its prestige among the gaming audience.
All of a sudden, Nintendo fans and the gaming community as accepted Fire Emblem as one of Nintendo’s hallmark franchises. The game sold respectably well, although as we now know not as well as its sequel. In a way, the introductory and reinventive nature of Fire Emblem: Awakening created a path for Fire Emblem Fates to be a behemoth from day one.
3. Censorship won’t hurt a game too much
There was a large fan uproar concerning some censorship that took place within Fire Emblem Fates. In the translated version, some characters were clothed a little more fully, and several scenes were removed. For example, one interaction where a character supposedly goes through some sort of “gay conversion,” was removed. Also, a minor “petting” minigame was also removed from the title.
A devoted group of fans protested this censorship, and even a Change.com petition sprung up with several thousand signatures demanding that Nintendo limit any and all changes within the title. Ultimately, Nintendo did decide to omit some minor portions of the title, but it seems that fans’ calls for a boycott never really materialized.
As a result, whether you or I agree with it or not, it seems that Nintendo can take steps in the future for minor censorship, as it will ultimately not affect sales of their games in any significant way. Perhaps it is fair to conclude that Nintendo’s decision to avoid content controversy in the west saved the company quite a bit of PR grief.
4. Gamers appreciate effort
When Nintendo first announced that Fire Emblem Fates would release in two separate versions, many gamers were rightfully enraged. For years Nintendo has cashed in to the 2-game release formula of Pokemon and many fans did not like that Nintendo was trying to change Fire Emblem with the same formula.
As Nintendo revealed more about the two different versions of Fates, however, gamers began to calm down. The titles were entirely different in story, characters, dialogue, and map design. Moreover, it only costed an additional $20 if you wanted to pick up the second version of the game. In the end, most fans accepted Nintendo’s 2-game proposal. The special edition of the title sold out practically everywhere and constituted 15% of total game sales. Overall, fans seem to be okay with extra launch content for a game, as long as it respects the player’s time and money.
5. Don’t be afraid of the niche!
For a long time, a hardcore strategy franchise like Fire Emblem was considered niche and outside of the mainstream. If there is any lesson to take away from Fire Emblem: Awakening and Fates it is than any sort of niche title can turn into something mainstream if you take the correct strategy with it! With so many lesser-known franchises slowly making their way over to America (Bravely Second and Rhythm Heaven for example), Nintendo should put effort into some of these releases. Who knows, maybe one of these titles will strike gold and become huge in five or six years. But the only way to know if the titles can be successful is if Nintendo chooses to embrace and promote them!
What do you think of all these suggestions? Would you add anything else to the list? Is there anything you disagree with? Let us know your thoughts on the success of Fire Emblem Fates in the comments section below!