Operation Rainfall was a fan made campaign meant to push Nintendo of America to localize Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story and Pandora's Tower for western gamers. Each game was sought after, and Nintendo didn't have plans to bring them to the US.
The campaign turned to petitions, gathered tons of support and, so they thought, got Nintendo to release all three games. The games did come out, of course, but perhaps not because of the campaign.
Siliconera talked to Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime about Operation Rainfall and how campaigns like it affect NoA's decisions when it comes to localization. Fils-Aime's response is as follows:
I have to tell you—it doesn't affect what we do. We certainly look at it, and we're certainly aware of it, but it doesn't necessarily affect what we do. I'll give you an example. I mentioned earlier that our head of product development had a bet on X versus Y—we also had a bet around localizing Xenoblade.
I wanted to bring Xenoblade here. The deal was, how much of a localization effort is it? How many units are we going to sell, are we going to make money? We were literally having this debate while Operation Rainfall was happening, and we were aware that there was interest for the game, but we had to make sure that it was a strong financial proposition.
I'm paid to make sure that we're driving the business forward—so we're aware of what's happening, but in the end we've got to do what's best for the company. The thing we know [about petitions] is that 100,000 signatures doesn't mean 100,000 sales.
A lot of sites are drumming Fils-Aime's comments up as meaning Nintendo doesn't listen to fans. Certainly, like any major company, they do listen to their consumers. However, an online petition with a load of signatures isn't as valuable to them as their internal profit and loss forecasts.
For good reason, of course. The act of signing a petition online requires very little effort. The act of going to a store and dropping $50 or $60 on a brand new game, however, does. It requires a means to travel, a means of income and a genuine desire to own the product.
Operation Rainfall was a really interesting moment for fans of Nintendo. They gathered round and made their voices heard. How loud they spoke in the ear of Nintendo of America doesn't matter as much as the fact that the games they were after were localized.
Should companies listen to online petitions? Sound off below.