May 4, 1998
Square's and Electronic Art's recent announcement (that Electronic Arts will publish future Square games in the U.S.) made me realize that RPGs are finally a mainstream game genre. This milestone was reached when Final Fantasy VII was released. After Square and Sony hyped this title so much, gamers bought the hype (and the game), decided they liked it, and began to buy other similar games. Final Fantasy VII even sold more than a million copies in the U.S., which is definitely mainstream. As a comparison, Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo sold as many copies.
I was reluctant to admit this fact until the deal was announced. Why? Well, there was always the possibility, I said, that this was "just a fad" and gamers would forget about RPGs after the hype for Final Fantasy VII went away. And while it may still happen, Square and Electronic Arts are going to spend a lot of money to make sure it doesn't. Besides, I'm confident that gamers will buy product that is good and that is hyped. Hey, they have even bought mediocre product, just because it was hyped!
Most importantly, after the floods have started flowing, it's hard to stop them. All these "common" people who tried RPGs and liked them have developed a taste for them, and will not stop now. Plus they are getting older, which helps. Which will in turn increase the word of mouth of people who recommend this type of game to others.
To finish, after all these years of us RPG fans and magazine editors writing letters to game companies, asking for more RPGs, only to receive the answer of "this is just a niche product," all it took was a company with deep pockets to hype one of them. Sigh. And, hey, I'm not complaining. After all, in the 16 bit era, I played so many action games only to keep myself entertained until the next big RPG came around. If things keep going the way they are, I will be playing RPGs most of the time, and will play action games as a "break" from RPGs. Life is good.
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