Atlus, We Do Still Like You
There’s an interesting conflux of events that happened in the last week or so. First off, the highly anticipated Catherine comes out in Japan. For months, fans of Team Persona, Atlus and Japanese games in general have been hoping that Atlus USA would bring it over to the West. Unfortunately, it was announced last week, after probably thousands and thousands of inquires from fans – which include press, mind you – that Atlus USA has no plans to bring the controversial title westward. Atlus’ forums and generally the entire Internet blew up in anger, it seemed. All this might have been overshadowed by the reveal of the Skyrim trailer, but it still happened nonetheless. In response, Atlus sent out an e-mail to everyone signed up for a newsletter that displayed nothing but the image above.
Yes, Atlus fans are passionate, and to some degree, they have a right to worry that this unique new IP will never get localized. No one can blame them, frankly. There seems to be a tad bit of Western leaning in some of Atlus USA’s latest games, ever since Demon’s Souls. While that game isn’t technically a Western title, it did use the Western philosophy in the majority of its game design. Now we see titles like Trine 2, The Cursed Crusade and Divinity II being published by Atlus and a slightly less focus on the niche Japanese titles that we’ve come to know and love. There has also been quite a bit of a disconnect lately, it seems. I was an avid Atlus fan long before I began working in the industry itself, and I remain one. However, I can indeed see why fans of what Atlus was are starting to get a bit concerned.
However, I think fans have to realize that Atlus itself is probably a bit concerned, being a small-to-mid-sized publisher these days and seeing all the studios that are closing down across the globe in the last couple years. This is understandable. Also, when it comes to Catherine specifically, it may be a bit difficult to market a title like that in the prudish North American gaming climate. First off, I’m willing to bet that the majority of “standard” gamers today have never played a JRPG, let alone some of the best JRPGs of the last decade – the latest Persona titles, for example. So they have no loyalty or interest in another game which isn’t an RPG developed by the same team. The amount of loyal Atlus and JRPG fans is a very small part of the overall modern Western gaming population. Atlus themselves have every right to be concerned about this wild card that is Catherine, and all the money they would pour into a localization of the title.
So, I suppose what I’m trying to say is this: Atlus fans, stop being so angry. Atlus USA, don’t lose the small publisher attitude that you once had, and never, ever turn your back on your fans. Speaking from a personal perspective, I would love to see Catherine released in the West, and the game has built up so much hype that I’m pretty sure it would be a money maker. Don’t market it like an RPG, market it like other, more mature games such as Bayonetta or Bulletstorm. Say to hell with the haters and just localize the games for your fans and to promote unique gaming opportunities to this part of the world. That’s really what we all want, right?
And yes, above everything, we all do really still like you. Now I will go back to playing Persona 3 for the third time.