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    Default RPGs go mainstream in the west

    Hey, just had an interesting discussion point for the good people of the digitpress forums. What do you think ushered RPGs into mainstream entertainment here in the west? D&D or FFVII?

    Personally, I think Final Fantasy VII is the game that broke down the perceived barrier that was around the genre for most gamers, but what do you think? Really just curious is all. Looking for some interesting conversation.
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    Technically Zelda II got many gamers to play an action RPG without even realizing it was that. If it weren't for the experience points, it wouldn't be but it is.
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    Video game RPGs didn't break into the mainstream until Final Fantasy VII came out. They were never extremely popular until then, maybe Americans preferred real-time games? Nintendo did have to give away copies of Dragon Warrior, but Final Fantasy VII and every one past that needed no help.

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    The fact that they made about a trillion Ultima and Might & Magic games suggests to me that they were, at least, not that far outside the mainstream. Ditto for the Gold Box series. Dungeon Master seems like it was a big hit at the time, and it was also widely imitated. I think LandStalker too, because quite a few games were billed as its successor in some way.

    Its RPG status is somewhat debatable but Sid Meier's Pirates! was certainly a mainstream success. Hell, Diablo came out before FF7.
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    The PC market up until about 2000 is kind of funny. Not everyone owned a computer, so what sold well on the Windows platform doesn't necessarily represent the mainstream. Sure, D&D RPGs did well, but it makes sense if you think about the old computer nerd stereotypes.

    I would argue that RPGs really reached the "mainstream audience" with Oblivion and KOTOR as a result of the increase in accessibility. Final Fantasy VII helped, but look at its influence on the market. Did other subsequent PSX RPGs go on to sell as well in the US?

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    Final Fantasy VII and Pokemon, really. Final Fantasy VII was one of the most popular RPGs with an immersive story. Pokemon Red and Blue gave people a simple and addictive concept that introduced many people to the concept of selecting a party and leveling up.
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    D&D was the inspiration for many early titles. FFVII mainstreamed it because it was easy to get into. Most early ones either used passwords or had 1 save slot, a deal killer for a family sharing a cart. They also tended to have a higher grind (Most Square Soft), awkward gameplay (Final Fantasy), bad ports (some Falcom), expensive hardware (Lunar, the best Falcom too.) or a high price tag (Phantasy Star series).

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    I know as far as Nintendo goes, RPGs were mostly popular with subscribers of Nintendo Power Magazine.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retronick View Post
    Hey, just had an interesting discussion point for the good people of the digitpress forums. What do you think ushered RPGs into mainstream entertainment here in the west? D&D or FFVII?

    Personally, I think Final Fantasy VII is the game that broke down the perceived barrier that was around the genre for most gamers, but what do you think? Really just curious is all. Looking for some interesting conversation.

    Lets see;

    Infocom Games
    Ultima
    The Bard's Tale
    Wizardry
    Might & Magic
    SSI Gold Box PGs
    Fallout
    Baldur's Gate

    We've always loved good RPGs and they certainly existed around here before Final Fantasy came along.

    So what got me into RPGs? The first game that I remember playing that got me into adventure and RPGs was Adventure for the Atari. At the time I used to always buy Electronic Games magazine with money that I made from mowing lawns or shoveling show as a kid and I would always be amazed by the previews and reviews for the computer game RPGs since they wee such an upgrade over my Atari. (I kind of consider Infocom games as early RPGs). Once I finally made enough to purchase an Apple iic there was no turning back I was hooked on adventue and RPGs. This was back in '83, before there even was a Final Fantasy.
    Last edited by Griking; 02-11-2012 at 12:04 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B View Post
    You're completely misinterpreting. It has nothing to do with elitism. I couldn't care less if someone is or isn't as fond of RPGs as me, or if they are an even bigger fan. I'm not 14, for crying out loud.

    What I'm talking about is the difference between if a handful of games are mainstream, standing as anomalies in their genre, or if the genre as a whole is mainstream. Not every RPG needs to be a massive hit, but when 95% of a genre is incredibly niche and not touched by the typical gamer, how can it possibly be a mainstream genre? Look at the mainstream genres in gaming's history. Platformers, fighters, first-person shooters, etc. Obviously there were plenty of games in those genres that went relatively under the radar, but it was widely accepted that those genres at their heights were one of, if not the, most popular genres, that developers were cranking them out left and right, that practically every gamer was buying them, and they were buying more than just 1, 2, 3 of them. RPGs, outside of the select few that break through to the mainstream, are marketed to their loyal diehard audience because publishers KNOW that they aren't mainstream and that they can't count on the casual consumer to buy their product.
    I don't agree with your premise. There are certainly subgenres in the RPG mold that are niche products, but on the whole it's one of the most popular genres in gaming right now.

    No one brought out the World of Warcraft point yet, so I'll do it. Ten million monthly subscribers. The Old Republic is at two, give or take. Rift is holding tough at a million. Fallout 3 and New Vegas did exceptionally well, and Skyrim did Call of Duty numbers. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is getting good reviews and is selling fairly well. The Mass Effect games are hugely popular. Ditto Dragon Age. The Fable series is one of the best regarded Xbox franchises and has a lot of cross market appeal. Deus Ex: HR did very well last year and there's talk of a follow up.

    I think our difference of opinion stems from the current predominance of the western RPG and the relative niche appeal of Japanese RPGs. Even Final Fantasy is doing (relatively) poorly in comparison this generation, with some of the best games either going unrecognized and flopping commercially or being polluted by Monster Hunter or dating sim mechanics: sometimes both. Poor Valkyria Chronicles.

    This only further illustrates that good old Dungeons & Dragons is the font here in the West. It's not that it's inherently superior than the eastern flavor of RPG: It's just more culturally relateable here. By the time FFVII showed up, the United States had decades of D&D, and the video games inspired by it, under It's belt already.
    Last edited by G-Boobie; 02-13-2012 at 01:02 AM.

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    I actually brought up World of Warcraft myself, but again I don't think it's representative of the norm. From what I've seen, it seems like a lot of World of Warcraft players don't even play any other games much at all, let alone specifically RPGs. It'd be like saying farming simulations are hugely popular just because people play Farmville, even though the Harvest Moon series and Shepherd's Crossing and what have you are very niche. One game doesn't make a genre.

    I will admit that I'm approaching this from a console perspective and am largely uneducated on the PC side. Are there many Western RPGs released on PCs these days outside of the handful of top-tier releases? I know the 80s and 90s had plenty of stuff, but it seems like PC gaming in general is dying these days. But on the console side, these hugely popular Western RPGs make up only a tiny fraction of the genre. There have been a ton of RPGs released in the US on PS1, PS2, PSP, DS, etc., and the vast majority are ignored by Joe Shmoe gamer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B View Post
    I actually brought up World of Warcraft myself, but again I don't think it's representative of the norm. From what I've seen, it seems like a lot of World of Warcraft players don't even play any other games much at all, let alone specifically RPGs. It'd be like saying farming simulations are hugely popular just because people play Farmville, even though the Harvest Moon series and Shepherd's Crossing and what have you are very niche. One game doesn't make a genre.

    I will admit that I'm approaching this from a console perspective and am largely uneducated on the PC side. Are there many Western RPGs released on PCs these days outside of the handful of top-tier releases? I know the 80s and 90s had plenty of stuff, but it seems like PC gaming in general is dying these days. But on the console side, these hugely popular Western RPGs make up only a tiny fraction of the genre. There have been a ton of RPGs released in the US on PS1, PS2, PSP, DS, etc., and the vast majority are ignored by Joe Shmoe gamer.
    The vast majority of games are ignored by Joe Shmoe gamer. By your argument there's only two or three mainstream genres.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_A View Post
    EA also has a successful NCAA Football franchise that does quite well.

    Just what football games are being released that aren't doing well? I don't agree with it, but her argument is that RPG's aren't mainstream because most games in the genre don't sell in huge numbers. I didn't see anything about number of releases per year in her argument about why RPG's are still a niche genre, so I don't see what the fact that we only get two major releases per year in this subgenre has to do with the discussion at hand. She's talking about sales performance and Madden and NCAA Football sell many millions of copies every year.

    Beyond those two series from EA, has anyone even tried to crack the market in years other than attempts to restart old arcade football franchises like Midway's Blitz series and Tecmo Bowl? Her argument is that most RPG's don't sell well. So how could you apply her argument to the football genre when both releases it typically gets each year are huge sellers? Unless a dozen other competitors spring up and Madden and NCAA still dominate, you certainly can't twist her argument around that way.
    Again: Skyrim, Dragon Age, World of Warcraft, Mass Effect, Pokemon, Deus Ex, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Rift, Guild Wars, The Old Republic... These games are all million sellers or better. That's as close to mainstream as anything I can imagine. Those are big numbers for any media.

    I think we're dealing with a disagreement over the definition of "mainstream".

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    Quote Originally Posted by G-Boobie View Post
    Again: Skyrim, Dragon Age, World of Warcraft, Mass Effect, Pokemon, Deus Ex, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Rift, Guild Wars, The Old Republic... These games are all million sellers or better. That's as close to mainstream as anything I can imagine. Those are big numbers for any media.

    I think we're dealing with a disagreement over the definition of "mainstream".
    What's that have to do with what you quoted from me? I wasn't even talking about RPG's nor did I agree with her opinion. I simply don't see how the football genre, which typically only gets two releases each year that both sell well, could be used to show the flaws in her logic. Her logic is RPG's aren't mainstream since most RPG's (Particularly Japanese RPG's) don't sell well.

    Seems to me then that we would need a good number of football releases each year that aren't million sellers in order to use this as an example to show her the flaws in her thinking. Yet, we don't have all those underperforming releases in this genre each year.
    Last edited by Leo_A; 02-14-2012 at 06:05 PM.

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