View Full Version : The Market for JRPGS

Forsaken Lover
12-11-2016, 12:24 AM
So we were discussing love stories and romances in JRPGs elsewhere and the topic of "why" the relationships are often so vague, and only come to completion near the end, is a thing. Started off by talking about how stable couples are boring. Shifted into Japanese developers not thinking their audience can really relate to such a thing. The journey is more important than the destination and it's easier to imagine as well.

"Teenage melodrama and personal angst" is the name of the game for JRPGs and stuff like Nier or Matsuno's works are a rarity.

What do you think? Do you think Japanese developers and writers are specifically targeting socially awkward nerds who can't really understand how a relationship might work and so it's better to just chase the ideal?
Is focusing on young people problems the main objective of most JRPGs?

Is this why Persona 4 is so popular?

12-11-2016, 01:35 AM
I do think that people who are lonely will tend to fall for a sappy love story, as well as girls. I think they have a good handle on the male market, so to put in a love story it hits the female market a little better aswell.

12-11-2016, 03:56 AM
It's a matter of what kind of story you are telling how a love story will be handled.

Look at FF VI. You start off in a rebel force fighting against an empire that is resurrecting ancient magitech, and eventually seeing the world being brought to a state of Ruin. What if, admist all of this, the focus was on Locke and Cecil's love story? Everything about the game's theme and pacing would have to be dramatically altered otherwise you would have this odd moment where you would be all 'Hey, I know you guys are in love, but the world is about to end. Can we kind of, you know, focus on that?"

Considering RPG's roots in tabletop gaming, where crafting grand adventures was the focus, the crowd these games were made for were people interested in such an experience. By nescessity, the love stories have to be an after thought if you are going for that style of game.

Now I'm not saying you can't do a Love Story as a focus of an RPG, even with the threat of the world coming to an end, Azure Knights I feel, while a bit shakey at times, did a great job handling this.

Wolf Kanno
12-11-2016, 06:21 AM
It has more to do with JRPGs aping Hollywood films which love throwing in a love story. It kind of all goes back to the fact that the entertainment industry is sort of designed around exploiting the youth market so it will obviously center most of its ideas on what is important to them such as finding your identity, finding love, and idealism.

Squall Leonhart Loire
12-11-2016, 06:01 PM
It's like anime. The average audience is full of teens and same goes for JRPGs. Persona 4 isn't that popular by the way. It's popular enough for a niche title but nowhere near a JRPG like Final Fantasy VII or Chrono Trigger. I do think that the reason it's popular for its niche and cult following is because of how it makes them feel like they're in anime.

12-11-2016, 06:12 PM
Idk, it got a lot of praise in general gaming press when it came out for PS4. It wasn't that niche.

Squall Leonhart Loire
12-11-2016, 06:19 PM
Certainly not Hyper-dimension Neptunia levels of Niche, but still your average gamer is very unaware of Persona.

12-11-2016, 07:57 PM
People aren't unaware of Persona anymore. About two years ago nobody knew about it, now it seems to have been found and that's everyone's goto for game suggestion it seems. I've noticed this not on the forms, but people who I grew up with and social media. Persona has taken off big time!

Del Murder
12-16-2016, 07:23 PM
The Vita rerelease of P4 really helped it since it's one of the few games worth buying on Vita. I wouldn't say it's reached mainstream popularity. Even looking outside these forums to our Facebook circles is a biased sample.

As for love stories, I think there is just an obsession for teen romance, which by its nature is awkward and vague and then somehow works itself out in the end. The obsession seems to be deeper in Japan, but it exists here too (see: Twilight). Also, writers of great love stories aren't really the ones that go into video game writing, so there's a lack of talent issue too. I've yet to see a JRPG with a really great love story. FFIX wasn't bad.

I much prefer games where you can choose your partner or that don't have a love story at all.

12-16-2016, 09:17 PM
I do think it is the nature of a lot of fiction in general, and this is absolutely not limited to Japan, anime, RPGs or anything else, to obsess over 'romance' over relationships. Now I believe there are many very interesting cultural reasons for this, as well as a number of cynical marketing ones. However, I think there is also a very practical reason for it:

The observer is seeing the world for the first time.

The first time you load up a game, turn on a movie or open a book, you don't know anything about the fictional world you're about to explore. You don't know any of the characters. You don't even know your character, and I don't just mean the player avatar in games - most fiction will focus on one or a small number of point of view characters and the story will be told through their eyes. Now, you want this character to develop over the course of your story, right? Well, that means they have to start undeveloped. There are many ways to ensure they are undeveloped; make them a new starter in an organisation. Make them young. Make them unattached.

Give them amnesia! That classic trope, and of course the reason it's popular is because it allows your character to be technically very detailed and interesting, but still give the storyteller a legitimate reason to explain even the most basic detail about their world to the character, who just-so-happens to have them same level of knowledge as you, the player.

So I believe this is a big reason why major characters (especially point of view characters) tend to start out of relationships; so that you can build them up over the course of your story.

Personally, I think this approach gives the audience too little credit. It's an approach designed to weaken the character's position in the world to start with, so they are closer to the level of the audience. But I think audiences can handle better developed characters from the get-go, so I'd definitely like to see it become more common practice where relationships are already well established. Certainly in my own creative efforts I make it a point to try and do that.

12-16-2016, 09:30 PM
What you're talking about is basically just lowest common denominator stuff. You need to read better books! :p