No Michael Pachter, Japanese Games Aren’t Irrelevant
As any Nintendo fan likely knows, Michael Pachter has a… tendency to make some rather stupid arguments in his analysis. He claimed the Wii would fail in 2006, then said the same thing over and over till the console generation ended.
Add his constant comments on Nintendo going third party or his rude attitude towards Satoru Iwata back in 2016, and you’ve got that someone no one in the gaming world takes seriously.
Which his latest ‘argument’ won’t be changing one bit. Why? Because Pachter quite literally calls Japanese games irrelevant. He does this in an interview with Game Bolt stating that:
Japanese games don’t matter in the larger scheme of things, You are talking about 2 million units, I mean, a piece of crap like Mafia 3 sold 5 million units, and that game is a piece of crap. So, no, 2 million units is a rounding error, that doesn’t matter. No one is making money off of that.
It’s a very general view, and I guess I can see where he’s coming from.
But at the same time, his arguments also have a lot of flaws in them.
For one thing, they kind of assumes that every Japanese title is niche and every Western one isn’t. Because hey, Persona 2 (a niche title) only sold 2 million copies whereas Mafia 3 (a less niche one) sold 5 million.
But that’s not the case in any region of the world. In fact, a large percentage of games in the West also sell as much or less than Persona 2.
And that’s absolutely fine. If you’re making game for a niche audience (or as part of an unpopular genre in general), it will sell less than a mainstream ‘shoot everything’ title would. That bullet hell shooter, that super hard platformer, the visual novel or comedy RPG… they’re always going to sell less than the likes of Call of Duty or Halo, regardless of their quality.
Yet that’s not something that makes them irrelevant. I mean, imagine if you applied that logic to the real world. Could you really say every other restaurant is ‘irrelevant’ because McDonalds sells more on a daily basis? How about that all drinks sellers outside of America are irrelevant because Coca Cola has so much of the market?
You couldn’t, because many of these other products and businesses are not directly competing with McDonalds or Coca Cola.
So you’d compare say, the top soft drink brands, or the top beer brands, or the top tea brands with each other, not with the market as a whole.
On that level… Street Fighter V might be a success, since it’s popular in the fighting game community. The Resident Evil games may be successful, because they’re popular among survival horror fans. And while Persona 5 may not be up there with Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, it’s still pretty popular and well liked among RPG fans.
That’s what really matters here. Not whether one or two niche titles from Japan compare to one or two less niche titles from Western developers.
And this is especially true given that said niche/mainstream titles are only a tiny part of their respective markets.
Seriously. Go and compare Mario, Pokémon, Zelda, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Smash Bros or Splatoon to mainstream Western games. Those (and many more) sell at roughly the same level, because they’re also mainstream titles meant for a general audience.
If you want to compare your Western triple A games to anything, compare them to Japanese triple A titles like these:
Not the niche titles that aren’t aiming to sell 20 million copies in the first place.
But Pachter didn’t do that, because comparing mainstream titles to other mainstream titles would show that the Japanese gaming industry is not ‘dying’ or ‘dead’ compared to the Western one.
It’s like saying the ‘Western’ market is dead because you compared Shovel Knight to Pokémon.
But hang on, you argue. Doesn’t Pachter discount Nintendo as ‘different’ to Japanese games as a whole?
Yes he does. Problem is, with that logic you could argue a lot of questionable things. Remove what’s considered ‘outliers’, and you can twist the truth into anything.
I mean, imagine if you said ‘social networks aren’t that popular, with the exception of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat’. That’s pretty misleading isn’t it? You’ve cut out four of the most popular social media sites and made a claim that’s very clearly wrong by any normal way of thinking.
Or how about some others?
If you ignore the USA, UK, Australia and Canada, English isn’t a popular first language worldwide
Ignoring Disney, animated movies haven’t done that well in the last decade
Eh, no one uses search engines any more. Assuming Google doesn’t exist
Either way, it’s the same case here. You’re basically removing the number 1 player in the Japanese gaming market if you pretend Nintendo doesn’t exist. Or is somehow ‘different’ from the rule.
You may as well by saying this:
And that’s the case here. By comparing niche games to mainstream ones and deliberately leaving out any evidence that disagrees with his theory, Pachter is being dishonest and making the Japanese video games industry look worse than it actually is.
So no, it’s not ‘irrelevant’. The Japanese gaming industry is doing just fine.
You just need to stop comparing apples and oranges here.