How Valkyria Chronicles Has Been Ruined in the West

by Stephen Kelley, posted on 24 June 2011 / 21,105 Views

Before I even decided to get a PlayStation 3, I would check the various recommendation threads and other such things on this and other forums to see what games were seen as the “killer apps” that I should definitely play. One game, more than any other, was constantly touted as being not only one of the most underrated games on the PS3, but one of the best RPGs out there on any system. That game was the first Valkyria Chronicles. I was taken aback by how mature the game was, and no I don’t mean “blood and guts and boobs” mature like the many games that misuse the term today, but an honest mature game done in such a way that most folks of the teenage persuasion, except maybe anime fans, would probably scoff at it. Yes the game deals with war, but in concentrates on the heroics and struggles with fighting rather than the bleak horrors of any battlefield.

For those that haven’t heard of the series, all of the games follow a fictitious war that somewhat closely resembles World War II if you squint really hard and drop some pixie dust on it. In this fantasy world a small country called Gallia suddenly comes under attack from a huge land grabbing conglomerate of nations dubbed the East Europan Imperial Alliance. This is a shock because these Nazi analogues (if you equate them to our terms) are at war with another federation of countries that dub themselves the Atlantic Federation, and there is no real reason for such an invasion to occur (EDIT: other than energy reserves to fuel the war). The game places you in the shoes of a rag-tag group of militia members that are suddenly forced to repel the most powerful army on earth on the verge of world conquest. This is of course the stage for a game that breathed an icy breath of fresh air into a somewhat played out genre – the strategy RPG.

Valkyria Chronicles screenshot

The immediate thing that struck me about both games in the series that I’ve played is that they have some huge balls, and exist as a true asset to the RPG genre, especially in how they portray war. For years we have been playing hundreds of World War II games, and very few of them have actually managed to mention the holocaust or the Jewish people for fear of getting the game banned in some random countries. Here, however, we have a game that revolves around a group of people called the Darcsens that have literally been blamed for just about every bad thing in the world for hundreds of years, and are the targets of ethnic cleansing campaigns (in Valkyria Chronicles 2 most notably) and even forced to work in labor camps. The fact that any series had the cajones to even attempt to have a storyline closely mirroring this sort of world event makes SEGA go up in my books quite a bit.   

Flash forward just a few years and it seems that a series with such promise, critical acclaim, big sales in Japan, and a cult following in America should be running strong; sadly this is not the case. Valkyria Chronicles may already be dead, especially in the west. Earlier this week news rang out about the possible release of the third Valkyria Chronicles game in America specifically. SEGA West had been pretty tight lipped about it, and its no-show at E3 was amongst about a dozen or so games that seemed absent from localization plans. Someone apparently talked to one of the SEGA reps at E3 and asked if the new Valkyria Chronicles and Phantasy Star games (both for PSP) would be heading to the west and the news wasn’t good:  

As much as I would love to see an English release of Infinity, SEGA West is currently not looking at further PSP development. Games like PSPo2 and Valkyria Chronicles 2 did not sell nearly as well as we had hoped that they would. Also, we all have to take into account the heavy amount of piracy that plagues the West. It may happen at some point, but there are currently no plans for it.

The above rumor was taken from a Phantasy Star message board called PSO World by a user named “DoubleJG”. If true (and to be honest it most likely is) we can assume that the series is basically dead in the U.S. and SEGA basically has itself to blame for it.  

Valkyria Chronicles II screenshot

The first mistake involved them trying to make a quick buck by churning the games out far too quickly on a completely other system as before. Granted, at the time the PSP had a userbase of more than 50 million users (a lot more than the PS3), but how many outside of Japan would buy it? How many had the first game? Series Producer Shuntaro Tanaka told Famitsu that the second game was being developed for the PSP instead of the PS3, in order "to allow a broader spectrum of users to discover and enjoy what makes Valkyria special." Tanaka added that the series could return to consoles in the future, though.

SEGA decided to release the games on the PSP in order to capitalize on the TV anime that was running and a host of toys and such that were hot on the market and make a bit of cash with the franchise. Moving a flagship title for any series across platforms is a tough decision, and especially ludicrous when we have to realize that Valkyria Chronicles II was, not shockingly, only the second game in the series. While it did decently well in Japan, the sales were still under that of the first game, but the real story is the American Market. VGchartz has the game listed at an estimated 80k for the American Market. That’s basically an estimated eight times less than what the first game obtained in the same region. Here are the graphs to speak for themselves:

http://gamrfeed.vgchartz.com/galleries/2010-06-06/steves-gallery/steves-gallery_1308893415.png

http://gamrfeed.vgchartz.com/galleries/2010-06-06/steves-gallery/steves-gallery_1308893417.png

Please note the scaling difference between the two graphs.

I’m not going to jump on the anti-piracy bandwagon, but when you have a system that is cheap and easy to develop for, but is plagued with piracy and doesn’t perform well in all areas versus a system that does a bit better in all areas, and isn’t hit hard (until recently) by any sort of hackers, I wonder why you’d choose the former. SEGA obviously wanted a quick buck rather than letting a franchise grow a bit more naturally, and it’s hurt the series pretty bad. Since its release the third game in series had barely cracked 160k units in sales, a far cry from the previous games.  

 I wish more of these big Japanese companies with American publishing arms would look at companies like Atlus and XSeed for how to treat localizations. XSeed, for example, has released a few games in the Record of Agarest War series digitally, that way they could obtain a cheap license and keep costs down. These smaller publishers also set realistic goals for sales of these games, instead of assuming that a niche strategy RPG will be a huge blockbuster, NIS and Atlus both learned a ton about the market, and learned how to market, publicize, and keep costs down on a ton of games like La Pucelle Tactics, Disgaea, and even Phantom Brave. They don't always sell crazily well, but they have rabid followings that keep buying the games, and keeping them going.

So there we go, Western gamers most likely won’t be able to legally play the third Valkyria Chronicles game, and it makes me pretty cranky. I guess there is always hope that they could do a PSP Remake edition for the PS3, but if they think the game won’t sell well, where is the incentive? Even a digital release with original dialog would be good, but I’m not holding my breath. Sorry SEGA, but you guys ruined your own franchise.

 

Disclaimer: This article is the work of one writer, and does not necessarily reflect the views of gamrFeed or VGChartz.


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48 Comments

darthdevidem01 (on 24 June 2011)

I TOTALLY AGREE. I am still so furious at how this franchise has been handled. I mean first of all VC sold the most in THE WEST, NOT In Japan!! But nooo they put VC2 (and 3) it on a platform that is known to not sell software in the West. Valkyria Chronicles had the chance to be THE breakout JRPG franchise this gen, with how well VC1 legged it out if VC2 had gotten more marketing than the first, with goodwill from the last game and the great quality that VC2 itself was we could've seen a sales increase and voila a new franchise would be born. Then after VC2 disappointed in sales compared to the first...guess what VC3 is on PSP too! Sorry for the CAPS but in a gen where JRPG's on consoles aren't doing as well as they did in the past, the ONE NEW IP JRPG that had the greatest chance to breakout wasn't given the chance, which is infuriating. (yes I am aware VC is a SRPG...but many feel it is a JRPG too)


MARCUSDJACKSON (on 24 June 2011)

spot on


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Dr.Grass (on 26 June 2011)

Starting to like this comment system on VGC. You totally deserve the +16 ;-)


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KylieDog (on 24 June 2011)

I think the problem is it had a very tight fanbase who really spread word of the game, then SEGA go and give them the middle finger by making the sequel on a near dead portable in the west, alienating many of those fans.


MARCUSDJACKSON (on 24 June 2011)

yea i thought of getting a PSP to play the second and third in hopes of Sega bringing VC back to PS3, but i opted out and now Sega have killed the IP


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krizalidzero (on 24 June 2011)

Well, most Japanese devs should keep localization text only, at this age dubs are stupid an unncessesary


Gamelore (on 01 August 2013)

The fact that it was dubbed (and scrapped the Japanese dub) is the reason I *didn't* buy it! Valkyria Chronicles II and III in Japanese with subtitles, please!


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huaxiong90 (on 24 June 2011)

Japanese need to learn how to localize. It's absolutely pathetic.


outlawauron (on 24 June 2011)

What does this have to do with the article or the Valkyria Chronicles series in general?


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Gamelore (on 01 August 2013)

The primary reason I didn't buy Valkyria Chronicles II was the loss of the ability to play with original Japanese voices and subtitles. Failure to properly localize resulted in me not buying it. Maybe that's why the sales were so low, and VCIII didn't make it here.


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outlawauron (on 24 June 2011)

One problem at the beginning is the statement that the Empire has no reason to invade Gallia. What? Empire's supply of Ragnite was running dry and they were in great need of a new supply line of the worlds most precious commodity. It has become a necessity and thus they invaded.


spdk1 (on 24 June 2011)

yeah I was a bit too general with that, I edited in a bit about the energy


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outlawauron (on 26 June 2011)

No worries. I just think that story is only thing about Valkyria that tends to get overlooked. While that section isn't a masterpiece, it certainly isn't bad or without purpose.


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Hynad (on 24 June 2011)

People keep on complaining that developers stick to safe game design formula, yet when a jewel like Valkyria Chronicles gets released, they choose to stick to Wolfenstein version 9167. ¬_¬


Kudistos Megistos (on 24 June 2011)

Yes, and in the same vein, people keep on complaining about companies that put graphics over gameplay, but judge games on how they look and consoles on their GPUs.

They should make up their minds about what they want.


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Xen (on 24 June 2011)

SEGA are the masters of having something good and fucking it up. A logical article is nice (good one spdk), but everybody knows how SEGA loves walking the minefield blind.


badgenome (on 24 June 2011)

Shorter version: Because SEGA.


huaxiong90 (on 24 June 2011)

@Kudistos: It clearly isn't underperforming if the numbers are correct.


Kudistos Megistos (on 24 June 2011)

The numbers say that it has sold less than a million copies. That's underperformance. In fact, the game seems to be underperfoming on both sides of the Pacific.

And just look at those Europe figures. They're horrible.

In any case, I think the problem for this game is a global one rather than a Western one. The franchise simply isn't selling well anywhere.


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darthdevidem01 (on 24 June 2011)

Your definition of underperformance is wrong.


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Kudistos Megistos (on 25 June 2011)

So darth, do you think that not even being in the top 1000 for the PS3 is the kind of sales performance the game deserves?


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Kudistos Megistos (on 25 June 2011)

Top 100; f*ck, I can't type!


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outlawauron (on 25 June 2011)

What something deserves and how high the expectations are not two mutual things.


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Ajescent (on 24 June 2011)

VC1 will always be a hidden gem to me, still consider it one of my favourite ps3 games of all time...but VC2 on the other hand, almost ruins the name. It's probably for the best that the 3rd one isn't coming over. Let's just embrace the memories of VC1 and be done with that.


FonzGemini (on 24 June 2011)

They moved the franchise to the PSP in order to make more money... that's what they get for being greedy. I loved VC on PS3 but couldn't care less for it once I found out it was going to the PSP. I guess they just assumed that if we have a PS3 then we also have a PSP.... That couldn't have been any further from the truth.


Aprisaiden (on 24 June 2011)

The main problem with the series is that SEGA moved it from PS3 to PSP without thinking about the market differences. Also VC2 seems (at least from the trailers and reviews) to be less serious and not as good as the original. Not to mention further PS3 development would of been cheap using the same engine, all that SEGA needed was a good story and some time to create characters/cut-scenes/maps.


A203D (on 26 June 2011)

VC1 was a nice game, however badly the sequels did i think Sega and Sony have still got a shot by releasing this in their PSP remasterings. i can understand there is a luxury to having an SRPG avaliable on the handheld, and it made the development costs cheaper. but this seems like an instance where transferring saves between PSP and PS3 games would be perfect. at the same time Sega would haves copies of VC2 and VC3 avaliable on both the PSP and PS3, so they continue to support both established fanbases, dispite some users only having one platform. so i dont think they've missed their chance just yet. the PSP remasterings and NGP/PS3 cross platform will give this series a chance to breakout imo.


Xike (on 25 June 2011)

It's truly sad to see Sega essentially abandon the series. We can't stay quiet or it'll truly disappear. A number of fans have been talking to various developers and as of last week an XSEED employee had stated that they would look into it. Come show your support on their forums and show the support for this awesome series! Link to the suggestion thread below. http://xseedgames.com/forums/showthread.php?551-Valkyria-Chronicles-3-(PSP)


demonfox13 (on 25 June 2011)

Despite SEGA's usual stupid mistakes, they can still save the series. All that is needed is a proper port of VC2 and 3 using the original VC1 engine on the PS3 or even further optimizing it which would keep the costs fairly low. I would say just add a few extras here and there (plz trophy support) and perhaps even a multiplayer component. Another last ditch effort would be a trilogy set with just straight ports.


alfredofroylan (on 24 June 2011)

Valkyria Chronicles II from a techinical point of view is a way better game than the first one, but from the artistic point of view it's terrible, the story is predictible and boring, characters are lame and cliche, the school setting is way too oriented to japanese audiences to actually have some worldwide appeal, the material system is tedious mstly because some of the advanced materials are dropped at random and on top of that they decide to recycle the ending. Mischlitt's story was actually better than the game main story.


outlawauron (on 25 June 2011)

Mischlitt was an incredible character. I agree with you on that but I wouldn't call the story boring at all. It has plenty of surprises throughout.


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swirldude (on 24 June 2011)

It really is sad to see one of the great gems in gaming today be killed off in this manner. Hopefully, someday, somehow, VC3 will come to our shores.


binary solo (on 24 June 2011)

I've never really been angry about a game developer's decision for a franchise I like. I only mildly cared when the Oddworld franchise went XB exclusive, after all it wasn't Abe's story any more. That was until VC went across to PSP. I thank Stephen Kelley for putting in to words, and publishing what thought from the very first time VC 2 was announced for PSP. I always said VC would tank in the west on PSP and unfortunately I was right. The games and the franchise deserved better. I'm still holding out hope for something that will allow VC2 and 3 to play on PS3. Whether a PS3 FW upgrade to allow any PSP games to be played, or VC2 and 3 get the HD upgrade treatment.


riders42 (on 24 June 2011)

Sega has made a mistake by not putting 2 and 3 on PS3 and by not releasing 3 in the west.


CDiablo (on 24 June 2011)

Once I found out that VC2 was on PSP I lost interest, they should have mad a spinoff for PSP and a main title for PS3


Zlejedi (on 24 June 2011)

Putting VC2 on PSP wasn't that bad as it probably cut the development cost by order of magnitude. What was stupid was putting gakuen story into it which killed any chances at decent sales in west apart from anime crowd. If they released VC3 instead of VC2 in west the sales would look much much diffrent.


hiroko (on 24 June 2011)

that sucks.. i have al the nice games on the psp...so i'am not the one to blame


Pristine20 (on 27 June 2011)

Mirrors my sentiments exactly. VC2 was the first psp game I ever bought. I was sworn to avoid handhelds but just had to play VC2 as VC was probably the most surprisingly awesome game I've played this gen. Unfortunately VC2 wasn't as good but having the unique blitz system made up for it. Fast -forward to VC3 and now they won't even give us a chance to play anymore after even initially hinting that VC3 will be back on ps3 if we bought VC2. It is just beyond irritating as VC to me was Sega's redemption. hadn't played a game by them since the genesis gen.


Grandia (on 27 June 2011)

Valkyria Chronicles was crap from the beginning, I dont need this games.


maximus22 (on 27 June 2011)

Sega is like an autistic kid. They make genius games but can't tie their own shoes.


theshonen8899 (on 27 June 2011)

First, I have to emphasize that the first Valkyria Chronicles is a masterpiece of this current generation. I don't think I have played anything in the past years that have gripped me as much as Valkyria Chronicles and it will remain in my heart for all of eternity, a game that is truly just beautiful. That leads to my next statement, Valkyria Chronicles 2 was shit. I really regret paying $40 for this game. It was the most disappointing garbage I've ever played in my life, and notice my choice of diction when I say disappointing, because I don't mean that the game is particularly bad. It's actually pretty good, but it was nothing like the original except for the battle system, which is a hallow shell of it's predecessor. I knew having it PSP would make it worse but how worse goes beyond the system. The mature story (your very good choice of adjective) is now a typical high school anime crap plot and the setting of a military school is extremely static. The battles no longer have the sense of scale, strategy, or creative freedom it did on the PS3, which is an outcome of both system limitations and poor level design. The characters are horrible stock stereotypes, most of whom I want to reach into my 3.5" screen and punch in the face. None of them even come close to the level of complexity and depth as Welkin, Alice, Isara or Selvaria. The gorgeous cell shading of my PS3 Valkyria Chronicles were replaced with horrible, visual novel styled anime dialogue, reinforcing how immature and childish the game really is. Nothing I loved from Valkyria Chronicles was brought back to me except the nostalgic sketchbook artwork, which did little to help me forget the emptiness of all the characters. That being said, I did like how Valkyria Chronicles 3 looked and how it wasn't in a school, but based on how much I didn't like VC2, I really can't say I was excited to begin with. See, the thing this really comes down too is that Valkyria Chronicles didn't need to be a franchise. It didn't need sequels or spinoffs or anything at all. The ending to the first Valkyria Chronicles was so beautiful, so heartwarming, so cherishing that I feel at peace with VC. It was one of the most beautiful games I've ever played in my life, if not the most beautiful, and it ended in the best way imaginable. Instead of having the developers go on to pump sequels out of this great game, I would rather see them make new IPs, and hopefully new masterpieces that will touch me as much as VC touched me.


Michael-5 (on 26 June 2011)

Wow, sorry for all the typos. Wrote this on my iPhone and it lags, and crashes all the time. Never go apple people.


Michael-5 (on 26 June 2011)

The problem is Sega makes the game catered to te japanese audience and market. VC2 sold about as well in Japan as VC1 did, but with substantially lower costs. If you eve follow the sales of JRPGs, the Americas audience is just as big, an sometime larger then the Japanese audience. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon sold about half it's sales in Japan as it did here, and I'm confident Mother 3 (GBA) would have sold more there. Japanse developers need to localize their games in the Americas more often. So many JRPG's are hurt by developers not selling their games here. The Last Story and XenoBlade could have become star shows at E3 this year, but no, they are still floating in maybeland. I wish Japanese developers localized their games more often here. I bet The Last Story could have sold 2 million lifetime had it been at E3, and the same goes for many poorly localized titles like Fire Emblem and Tales of...... Shame.....


SanAndreasX (on 26 June 2011)

Sega had a franchise with a lot of potential and had a decent fanbase in both Japan and the USA. They gambled with that potential by shifting a series known for being one of the best-looking on a powerful console and cramming it into a handheld. They gambled the serious, thoughtful story away by infusing a bunch of cheesy SMT Persona high-school drama into it. All to pander the series to hardcore "moe" fetishists. They lost both bets. Badly. And so did we.


Dr.Grass (on 26 June 2011)

Wow. Now that's the type of articles I'd like to see more of. Keep it up ;-)


arcane_chaos (on 26 June 2011)

completely agree, it was a shame that SEGA chose quantity over quality and they still failed at that


UnknownFact (on 26 June 2011)

My thoughts are different in this. First, we see how Americas was the best market for the original PS3 game, and how it was the worst for the sequel. If we add the fact that it's in the Americas that there's the bigger difference in sales between the DS and the PSP, we can conclude that in general the Americas dislike the PSP or like it less. So it's not the company's fault to change the franchise's console, but to change it to a console that sales really poorly in the Americas. The US hate the PSP that's a simple fact. It wouldn't sale as the PS3 game just because. In EMEAA on the other hand there's no such a thing, so the game sold better.


Akvod (on 26 June 2011)

I'm sure developing for the PSP is less expensive and quicker though, making it (in the short term) more profitable to make so many of those games.


Badassbab (on 25 June 2011)

I'm annoyed I can't play PSP games on y PS3.


Strife91 (on 25 June 2011)

I swear, SEGA is one of the most stupid publishers out there.


zuvuyeay (on 25 June 2011)

Sm....Smoink!!


dahuman (on 25 June 2011)

They should have made the sequels on PS3 to start with, as it stands now, the first game is still the best one because of higher production value.


miqdadi (on 25 June 2011)

It remains a mystery to me that Sega decided to shift the title for PSP, 1m seller goes to PSP?, How many 1M sellers Sega got? and how many new IP sell 1m?, Part 2 of the game should been on PS3 and only 2 parts this generation was enough


miqdadi (on 25 June 2011)

It remains a mystery to me why the game shifted to PSP, it reached 1m on PS3, I understand that in this generation Japan market is ruled by handheld, but how many 1m titles have Sega got? how many new names sell 1M? It Would've done better if it was kept on PS3 and they didn't rush part 2 & 3, only part 2 on PS3 would've been enough for this generation


Icey7 (on 25 June 2011)

I also completely agree with this article. VC is my most favourite game this generation. I did not like playing VC2 on PSP and the story was very poor compared to the original game. I had some hope that VC3 would be back on PS3 but now it looks like we won't even get a localised version. Makes me wonder why they even bothered to make VC3 in the first place. Perhaps we need an email campaign to encourage SEGA to have a new VC game on PS3.


Vueguy (on 25 June 2011)

PSP was full of homebrew hack in the US and EU. Sega chose PSP as their platform for VC2 so yet it gonna sell like crap in the west. Even my bro owned two hack homebrew PSP. We just download free PSP games. VC2 would have been much more success on the PS3 I guess.


ryuzaki57 (on 25 June 2011)

Good analysis. VC2 on PSP was all about quick and easy money, but SEGA got trapped in that strategy because the series couldn't expand. The insane amount of DLC for VC3 clearly shows that (well can't complain I bought them)


brendude13 (on 24 June 2011)

What's up with those graphs? It's all over the place, with VC1, the sales triple in the USA a year after launch for no apparent reason and it sells far more than the EU and Japanese version. With VC2, it once again has that random steep incline after the game has launched, but this time the EU version has vastly outsold the American version. Funny numbers o.0 Anyway, I haven't played the game(s) yet but I want to, they look great, I have never been into Strategy RPG's but this seems like an exception. I liked the description of what a real "mature" game is, that term gets thrown around far too much by young child gamers thinking they have grown into men because they can shoot people in the face on a video game.


outlawauron (on 25 June 2011)

It dropped in price around Christmas time for a big sale that last throughout the Christmas holidays. That's what gave it the boost it did. After that, it experienced a higher plateau due to word of mouth coming from those who recently got the game or the system.


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coolbeans (on 24 June 2011)

Good read. I'm still hopeful at a PS3 port for VC 2+3. Even though VC is PS3's best exclusive imo, I don't want to buy a PSP for those two games (or one if this terrible news come into frution.


ishiki (on 24 June 2011)

well. the second one. I didn't like at all regardless. So they should have made that a better game. But no doubt it being a psp no doubt hurt sales in the west. Though. To be fair you don't have all the information on the development costs for psp vs ps3 for this game.


MARCUSDJACKSON (on 24 June 2011)

i totally agree. looking at the sales there biggest mistake was taking VC off PS3.


Oculin (on 24 June 2011)

If you take a look though, it took awhile for Valkyria to catch on. I'm not positive how quickly SEGA moved, but it could have been the second one was already in the books for the PSP. Now the third one really doesn't have much of an excuse. I personally was kind of done with the series right after the first one, so I'm not bothered too much. But it still stinks how SEGA basically split the fanbase. I do wish they'd localizing PSP2:Infinity


Comments below voting threshold

Kudistos Megistos (on 24 June 2011)

O RLY? The article ignores the fact that VC was already underperforming in the West when only the first game was out. Yes, a release on a console that has been dead in the water outside of Japan for the sequel didn't help, but something was clearly wrong already. A lack of marketing and the backlash against anime from 13-year-old internet tough guys are likely candidates for blame. This is all very sad. VC is my favourite game of this generation (mind you, there isn't much competition).


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outlawauron (on 24 June 2011)

Underperforming by what standards? As someone who paid far too much attention to the game as it was coming out, I expected less than half of what the first game sold. SEGA has come out themselves and said that it has sold better than their expectations. How is that, in any sense of the world, underperforming?


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naruball (on 24 June 2011)

As far as I know it started selling well after massive price cuts, so SEGA didn't make much of a profit.


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Kudistos Megistos (on 25 June 2011)

It's a good game, but it has not sold even a million copies; that's underperformance.

I wonder how many of the downvoters downvoted me because they thought I was saying it was bad?


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outlawauron (on 25 June 2011)

So, by your definition, a million copies is considered a satisfactory performance? Where do expectations and rationale come in? If Modern Warfare 3 sells any less than 15 million in one year, that's underperforming. Sure, that's tons of money, but you expect it. You can't apply some broad benchmark to all types of games that break from the mold. Valkyria Chronicles was never going to sell a million copies and didn't need to. It was a successful product.


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