Xenoblade Chronicles was released last Friday in Europe and has already reached #7 in the Top 40 UK Software Charts for that week. This news comes despite serious stock shortages, which have resulted in some pre-orders not being fulfilled and reports of brick-and-mortar game stores such as GameStop receiving limited copies.
One gamer reports that he received an email from ShopTo about the pre-order fulfillment:
Dear Valued Customer,
Due to the unexpected late demand for ‘Xenoblade Chronicles’ the publisher has experienced great stock shortages of this title.
All pre orders on our system up to Sunday 14th August were processed in normal fashion and were dispatched in time for release date. Unfortunately due to the stock shortages pre orders placed with ShopTo this week will face a slight delay in shipping. We expect your pre order now to be processed Monday 22nd or Tuesday 23rd August. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you.
This comes alongside other reports of stores that only received enough for pre-orders, as well as more than one account of stores only having two copies for sale. One French gamer was told that only 38,000 copies were available in the entire country for the initial release.
Despite these issues, the game is performing magnificently in the UK, ranking #7 in software sales for the first week it was released. It should be noted that week of sales data ended roughly 48 hours after the game was released. In addition, it’s ranked #11 in the top 100 games on Amazon UK and #3 on Amazon France.
Analysis: It truly looks like the news of Operation Rainfall has pushed this title to the forefront, resulting in massive appeal among gamers. Xenoblade Chronicles is a JRPG, a genre that is very niche and doesn’t rake in the same type of sales that your average AAA FPS title might. As our Editor-in-Chief Christopher Bowen notes in his blog entry, JRPGs used to be some of the biggest titles in the gaming industry. However, in recent days, the term Core Gamer no longer applies to those awaiting the next Dragon Quest or Suikoden title, but rather those waiting for Mass Effect 3, Modern Warfare 3, Halo 4, or Skyrim. In fact, very few JRPGs have stayed in the spotlight; Final Fantasy is practically the only one.
This brings a very good point to the table: JRPGs take a lot of work to localize (arguably more than it takes to make a game like MW3), but don’t rake in nearly the same kind of profits. Thus, the decision to not Localize Xenoblade Chronicles is a reasonable one, and something I as a fan of JRPGs have dealt with on many titles. However, Operation Rainfall seeks to overturn that decision. It seeks to do this through forms of protest, but also sales data in Europe. This latter form is the only kind of data that Nintendo of America will listen to. But Nintendo of America’s PR insists there are still no plans to bring the game to the region, and this only serves to fuel gamers to campaign even harder. Ultimately, Operation Rainfall is bringing much more attention to Xenoblade Chronicles than it would receive with a normal marketing campaign. This is pure speculation on my part, but I believe Donovan Tucker is right: I think that NoA is hoping that Operation Rainfall will serve as a grassroots campaign that will direct the attention of today’s Core Gamers to the title, and then they’ll release it in the US upon seeing highly successful sales data in Europe. Reggie Fils-Aime has stated that NoA is watching the matter closely in Europe, and I think this is further evidence of that.