Friday, December 2, 2011

Revenge of the Nerds

No offense by that title because I include myself in that group as well - at least "video game" nerds. When talking about the power of internet-borne communities, this recent example justifies it in a pretty significant way - and as always, the impact of social media.

Operation Rainfall is a fan campaign launched on June 23, 2011 meant to persuade Nintendo of America (NOA) to localize three role-playing games for the Wii console, one of which was called Xenoblade Chronicles.

Fans sent as many physical letters and e-mails as well as giving as many phone calls to Nintendo of America's headquarters as possible, in addition to posting messages on the companyis Facebook page and Twitter accounts, requesting a North American release of the game.

Nintendo did decide to localize it - in Europe. This understandably ticked a lot of people off; it's easy to understand the typical responses of "it won't sell outside Japan." But to localize it in a region in which everything will be in English anyways with the same expectations of success burned a lot of people up, and when in doubt, complain on the internet.

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime commented that, "We will be watching very closely what happens in Europe...Certainly if there are business opportunities and positive consumer uptake from some of those titles, that will be great data for us to consider as we look at what to do with these titles." Yesterday, Nintendo revealed on its Facebook page that Xenoblade would come to North America on April 3, 2012.

You could feel the disbelief from these fan corners but what really got me was the message on Operation Rainfall's Facebook page, "We Did It!" I'm a softy at heart, plus I might be able to buy a Wii by April.

To further legitimize this whole campaign, our very own Washington Post even covered the saga and continuing power of fans convening on the internet. Maybe I'm easy, but I have to say I am impressed, and likely buoyed by their recent success, the group is still openly campaigning for the other Japanese games to be localized as well. A well-won victory all without leaving the computer screen.


  1. This reminds me of "Ugly Betty" and "Betty la Fea"because of the discussion of flows. Specifically, I recall how the format was exported first to similar ethno-linguistic media communities before making its way to mainland Europe, the UK, and finally the US.

    I think Nintendo's approach with this game concept is well intentioned. It follows a tried and true process of flows of non-American originating concepts to gradually test the waters elsewhere before trying to tap into the American market. But, what I still haven't been able to determine is why it is that America is consider such a difficult place to export a foreign format, product, or program. Is it founded in truth with evidence to support the notion or is it a misconception of American tastes and attitudes?

  2. I agree with Jeff, I definitely think they tried to do right by their product. There are so many video games and there's so much competition that it's difficult to put money behind a product in this economy when you aren't at least 75 percent positive how it is going to be received.

    I think that also there is a sense that Americans want to buy American and their is almost an elitist attitude towards things like games made in America. Although I think there has been a positive attitude towards Japanese video games. When looking at anything I think companies these days are tending to market American products to American audiences and especially in the entertainment business.