Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust

Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust

On June 6, 2013, Sony director of strategic content Shahid Ahmad wrote on Twitter that the company was looking to bring more Japanese role-playing games to the Vita.

"Greetings," he said. "We're looking at JRPGs and similar for Vita. Your votes on which ones you'd buy using #jrpgvita please."

The tweet exploded, drawing attention from JRPG fans on sites like NeoGAF and Reddit, and in the coming months Ahmad would send out dozens of messages just like it, encouraging fans to use the "#jrpgvita" hashtag to express their interest in getting more role-playing games on Sony's underappreciated handheld. "On #jrpgvita - we've let a lot of partners know about your fervent interest," he wrote on July 9, 2013. "We'll keep at it. They're beginning to notice Vita again. :-)"

People went nuts, of course. Big companies don't often do much to support JRPGs, and although Ahmad wasn't clear about whether this new initiative would lead to totally new games or English localisations of games that are currently exclusive to Japan, people buzzed, deluging him with requests for Japan-only games like Final Fantasy Type-0 and Valkyria Chronicles 3. Some optimistic JRPG fans, spurred by Ahmad's teases, begged for him to conjure up new entries from neglected franchises like Suikoden and Chrono Trigger.

Today, after two years, #JRPGVita seems to have done very little. Months of teasing have resulted in a single, mediocre release — Tales of Hearts R, a poorly-localised Vita remake of a 2008 DS game, which won a fan vote on Ahmad's Twitter — and Ahmad hasn't said anything about the hashtag in months.

In one misstep during E3 2014, Ahmad took credit for a Final Fantasy Type-0 HD Vita announcement, calling it a "megaton" for #JRPGVita… only for fans to then find out that it wasn't actually happening. Later that day, publisher Square Enix clarified that Type-0 HD was actually just coming to PS4 and Xbox One.

Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust
Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust

Meanwhile, the PlayStation Vita is in a worse place than its ever been: Sony boss Andrew House called it a "legacy platform" at a recent talk (although Sony was quick to backtrack on that comment, saying it only referred to the "first generation" of Vita). Although the system still sells decently in Japan — where Sony is actually supporting it — things are dismal for Vita fans in North America these days. Other than indies and the occasional Japanese morsel from boutique publishers like XSEED and NIS America, the Vita's library is lacking.

Of course, it's possible that this campaign's gears are still turning, and maybe we'll see a surge of Vita JRPGs at E3 in three weeks. It's more likely that Sony will dedicate all of its time to the platform that people are actually buying — PS4 — like they have been doing since before #JRPGVita even started.

(Sony has not responded to requests for comment on the fate of the #JRPGVita campaign. Early last year (and again last night) I requested interviews with Ahmad about his initiative, but Sony turned them down.)

Game executives make hypey promises all the time. Often they don't deliver. But it's rare to see a representative for a major publisher make this many specific teases that, after two years, have led to almost nothing. While Ahmad certainly seems passionate — and I do believe he genuinely intended to make something happen — it's hard not to be frustrated when we look back at what he's tweeted over the past few years.

This big tease, for example:

Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust

And the continual messages about how hard he's been working on #JRPGVita, some of which led to big threads on message board and fan gaming sites. In June, 2013, for example:

Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust

July 2013:

Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust
Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust

August 2013, shortly after Sony's presentation at the Gamescom conference:

Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust

September 2013:

Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust
Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust

October 2013:

Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust

December 2013:

Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust
Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust

February 2014:

Two Years Later, Sony's '#JRPGVita' Campaign Is A Bust

In April 2014, Ahmad announced plans to bring Tales of Hearts R to the west as part of this campaign; it came out later that year, and then... nothing. In a podcast not long after the Tales announcement, Ahmad promised that there were other deals in the works, but in recent days there's been nothing but silence. Just what happened? Did not enough people care? For fans of JRPGs — a genre that has been neglected for a decade now — this has been beyond frustrating.


Comments

    The Vita's library is fine, as long as you don't rely on it as your *only* method of playing video games, and as long as you love Japanese games and indie games. Fortunately, I fit into that category. I still have quite a large Vita backlog, so I'm happy the games for it are trickling out.

      I agree. I love my Vita and use it all the time on my commute to work (remember it is a portable) to play my Indie game backlog. Come on Hotline Miami, Shovel Knight, Child of Light, Helldivers, Don't Starve, Dragon's Crown, Fez, Guacamelee, Limbo, Machinarium, RESOGUN, The Swapper, Velocity Ultra, Rogue Legacy, Broken Age etc etc are some seriously good games to play on the train!

        ..and Dead Nation, Hatsune Miku Project Diva F/F 2nd, Kick & Fennick, Flame Over, Luftrausers... the list goes on :-)

      Yeah, my primary system is PC, but my Vita is definitely number 2 in terms of the number of games I've got for it and the size of the backlog. It's got a lot of the sort of games I like, and a fair amount in the pipeline too.

      Yeah, the Vita library is fine with me.

      ... which reminds me, Mr Schreier, Tales of Hearts R was a great game!

    Yep, this was a big letdown.
    heaps of cool games we will never see in the west.

    I wish Sony put some money behind some more vita stuff like they're doing with Yakuza 5 on PS3.

      Yeah but the games we'll never see in the west were PSP games mainly. In terms of JRPG-ish things actually on the Vita that we haven't had localized yet, it's a pretty short list. God Eater 2 (probably coming), Tales of Innocence, Sen no Kiseki & Sen II (rumors have it that Sen is coming) and Phantasy Star Nova. Not much else that's actually out yet that hasn't been localized or at least have a semi-confirmed localization in the pipe. Obviously there's a ton of Japan-only games on the platform, but a lot of them are things like visual novels which we'd never have seen regardless of Sony's position.

      I do wish we'd seen Valkyria 3 in some capacity though.

    He wasnt responsible for Resident Evil Revelations 2 for Vita, was he?

    BTW when is that coming out?

    Months of teasing have resulted in a single, mediocre release — Tales of Hearts R, a poorly-localised Vita remake of a 2008 DS game

    Whoa there, Schreier. Tales of Hearts is not mediocre, it's a pretty reasonable Tales game. Not the best, but definitely not mediocre. And it's absolutely not poorly localized. It's an 8-4 localization, just like every other Tales game from around Symphonia onward, and it's generally pretty good. The only questionable part of it is some inexplicable name changes. 'Poorly localized' is how you'd describe something like Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment.

    I'm not sure that it had even been announced at the time the JRPGVita stuff was happening, either. I'm pretty sure it was Tales of Innocence R we were after, and that game is mediocre. And not localized at all, still.

    Honestly, RPG's particularly JRPG's are the only thing that I really want to play on the Vita. It's so sad that there's been such a drought of games for the Western market. It'd also be nice if they ported Crisis Core to the vita.

    The vita is the only console/handheld/gaming device I've ever regretted buying. I bought it mainly for jrpgs but found that it doesn't really have any jrpgs I like.

    Last edited 29/05/15 4:38 pm

    I'm not sure I would describe the campaign as a failure; there have been more JRPGs out on Vita in the last couple of years than any other platform, possibly excepting the PS3. The Nintendo platforms are nearly a wasteland in that respect.

    There have been all the Atelier Plus games, Final Fantasy X/X2 (and the earlier FFs), MIND-0, Demon Gaze, P4 Golden, Ys Celceta, several Neptunia revisions, Oreshika, Conception 2, Tales of Hearts R, Sorcery Saga (cough) and Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment. There are also a number of other titles where the primary platform was PS1 of PSP (Gungnir, Growlanser, Suikoden etc) and more action-oriented games such as Soul Sacrifice and Freedom Wars.

    If you put indie titles aside, JRPGs come close to being the majority of recent games on the platform.

      I dunno 3DS has Persona Q, Etrian Odyssey untold, EO Iv, EO 2 Untold, Mystery Dungeon, Shin Megami Tensei IV, Monster Hunter IV, Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor, Devil Survivor 2, Xenoblade Chronicles, Pokemon, Bravely Default + 2,, Soul Hackers, Monster Hunter 3, Paper Mario, Kingdom Hearts, Tales of the Abyss, Mario and Luigi.
      Plus backwards compatibility with the DS which has a goldmine of JRPGS.

        Yeah, and the Wii U may not have many JRPGs, but it will be getting FE x SMT and Xenoblade Chronicles X and tbh I don't have time to play more RPGs than those (oh, and Tales of Zestiria, ofc)

        Fair call. although Bravely Default 2 isn't out in English yet as far as I know, and from what I read of the reviews of Paper Mario they stripped many of its RPG elements. I'm glad you didn't list the Zelda games, as I tend to regard them as action-adventure...

        Hmm, pretty sure Conception 2 was also released for the 3DS. Xenoblade Chronicles is, technically, for the "New 3DS" and doesn't work on the old one as far as I know.

        In any case, my point stands - JRPGs area healthy chunk of the Vita catalogue. The main reason why there are relatively few (by somebody's measure, apparently) is that Vita releases in general have been sparse.

    Meanwhile I'm still waiting for Se to fix their bloody camera on fftype 0 so it's actually playable. As someone who loved jrpgs from the ages 12-20 it's turned into a dmc fest they have ALL moved to the action RPG genre and frankly I hate it.

    It always frustrates me when people write articles like this because it perfectly demonstrates why the Vita is failing. People just don't realise that there is a lot of stuff coming out on it. So let's see, if I open the Vita games list on the online store, sort by newest first, filter by games and bundles then find Tales of Hearts R seeing as that is supposedly the last ever JRPG on the system...

    - 98 games have been released on the Vita since then.
    - Only Approx. 1/4 of those are what you'd call distinctly Japanese.
    - 6-7 JRPGs have come out since ToH R.

    Then from a quick web search:
    - 6 more JRPGs are coming out this year so far.
    - About 50 Vita titles are still planned for the year.

    So while Sony has given up on the Vita, developers and publishers certainly haven't and definitely not the JRPG publishers. I'd really like people to start realising this because the Vita is a fantastic system and its library complements the 3DS really well.

    Last edited 29/05/15 7:40 pm

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