It was once a simple JRPG series that only the savvy bragged about playing, but now… well, it still is, but it seems like the recent string of quality releases has been doing quite well for the Tales series in the West. Bandai Namco has confirmed that with each passing game which gets released in America, sales have been steadily climbing.
The series had been nothing but a blip on the radar until the GameCube release of Tales of Symphonia pushed it into a slightly bigger realm of popularity. Since then, Product Manager Dennis Lee says in an interview with Siliconera that Tales has seen its ups and downs.
“There were a lot of titles that weren’t brought over to the west—in fact, there was a span of two or three years where we didn’t bother to bring any over,” he said
“A few years back is when we decided to really focus on the series and the fans because they’re asking for these titles, so we started with Tales of Graces F and the 3DS version of Tales of the Abyss, and we started to do things where we went to events and talked directly to anime and Tales of fans about what they wanted.
A lot of those requests were things like Japanese and English audio options, shorter waits between Japanese releases and Western releases, and so on.”
Nice to see that the company at least listens to feedback from the fans. For example, Tales of Xillia released in 2011 but didn’t make it over to the West until 2013. During its hype train, Bandai Namco had promised it would localize the sequel if the first game sold well enough. It apparently did as Tales of Xillia 2 just had its release date announced for Aug. 19, 2o14.
“With each game we’ve released, sales have increased, so we believe that fans have been going out and talking to other fans,” Lee says.
“With games coming out on a more periodic basis, I think it conveys [to new fans] that this isn’t just a one-off game, it’s not just another RPG. Working with our community and fans has helped the audience to grow, and we’re delighted to see it taking off so well in the west.”
I’ve never been huge on the series, only really getting far into Tales of Symphonia, but I can understand the appeal to fans. One has to wonder if this niche franchise will cap itself off somewhere or if this trend will continue to take it to the big leagues.
Bandai Namco is obviously hoping that 2014 will be a banner year for the series. We’ve already seen one release with Tales of Symphonia Chronicles, a well received HD remake of the popular games and its significantly less popular direct sequel. Tales of Xillia 2 launches later this summer for the PlayStation 3, and a new game in the series, Tales of Zesteria, has been confirmed for a worldwide release before the end of the year.
Tales of Hearts R for the PS Vita has also been confirmed for an American release, but no date has been announced. Bandai Namco is treating this series like Call of Duty it would seem, so it might want to watch where it treads or else watch its fanbase suffer from burnout.