3DS Buzz Operation Rainfall Interview
The good people over at Operation Rainfall agreed to an interview with me about their past, present, and future plans as a group. A game they might add in the future might surprise you.
Over the past eight months, a fan based group known as Operation Rainfall has come to the attention of many of us within the gaming industry. This group has been integral in getting the RPGs The Last Story, and Xenoblade Chronicles released in the west and still have Pandora’s Tower that they are campaigning for. Such hard work and dedication from fans never goes unnoticed and the video game industry has definitely taken notice of all they have accomplished. Many say that their group has shown that gamers do have a voice in this ever-growing industry and that by coming together and organizing, fans can get things accomplished. I recently had the chance to interview Ryan Tyner, the Co-leader of Operation Rainfall about its past, present, and future plans.
Jordan Bayes: For those not in the know, describe to them what Operation Rainfall is and what your current mission is.
Ryan Tyner: Operation Rainfall is a fan driven campaign created for the purpose of getting three Nintendo published titles, Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower, localized in the Americas. At the end of June, 2011, Nintendo of America announced it had “no plans” to localize these games in the Americas, despite English translations already being done for release in Europe. Operation Rainfall was created to convince Nintendo of America to change their minds through emails, letters, and by posting on Nintendo’s Facebook wall and sending them tweets on Twitter. We hoped to show Nintendo of America that there was a genuine interest in the games.
Now that Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story have been announced for the Americas, our current mission is to bring as much attention to these games as we possibly can so that when they arrive, they sell well. We are also still campaigning for the release of Pandora’s Tower.
JB: When were thoughts first given to starting Operation Rainfall? Was your mission always to get these three specific games released?
RT: The idea of Operation Rainfall started to form around June 22nd, 2011 on an IGN message board (located here, IGN) after E3, 2011. At that time, gamers in the Americas had assumed that Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower, all three games published by Nintendo, were heading their way eventually.
On June 23rd, 2011 the marketing manager of Nintendo France, stated that Nintendo of Europe wanted to show Xenoblade Chronicles at E3, but that “Nintendo of America wouldn’t let them because they didn’t want to show products they aren’t planning to sell.”
It was at this point we started to understand that these games may never come unless something was done. Operation Rainfall was formed by a group of people determined to change Nintendo of America’s minds about bringing these games over.
JB: What has been the toughest time you have had as a group? Has there ever been a time when you questioned whether any of the games would be released?
RT: I think the end of November was the bleakest moment for the staff here at Operation Rainfall. The holidays were coming, the year was almost over, and it just did not seem like Nintendo of America had any interest in localizing these games. I wouldn’t say we gave up hope, but it was hard to remain optimistic. Of course, the announcement of Xenoblade Chronicles coming to the Americas made December 2nd, 2011, changed everything.
JB: A lot has happened for you over the past several months. You have quite a large following yet many publishers claim there is no market for the JRPG in North America. Why do you think there is such disconnect between these publishers and gamers? What needs to change to show publishers this genre is still relevant?
RT: There is no denying that the JRPG genre, with a couple of exceptions of well-established series such as Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, does not sell well when compared to mainstream games such as Uncharted or Call of Duty which sell millions of copies. For whatever reasons, gamers have moved away from the JRPG genre that was widely accepted 10-15 years ago.
But that’s not to say there isn’t an audience for these games. They may only sell 500,000 copies worldwide, but that’s enough to make the game profitable for a publisher. Localization publishers such as XSEED, which is bringing The Last Story to the Americas, have proven that a game doesn’t need to sell millions of copies to be profitable.
To show publishers and game creators alike that these games are relevant, people need to go out and buy these types of games when they are released. They need to buy new, retail copies and not buy these games second hand or rent them.
JB: Nintendo does seem like it is trying to do right by gamers by bringing both Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story to North America. Why do you think they are so willing to bring games like these over when many would argue, the long wished for, Mother 3 has an even bigger group of fans that still wish for it after all these years. Why do you think Nintendo is so picky about what it releases worldwide even when it knows there is a worldwide following?
RT: I’m sure Nintendo has its reasons for the decisions that it makes about which games to localize, reasons of course that they don’t share with the public. What those reasons are I can only guess, but there may be legal issues in localizing a game, or Nintendo may think there is either not enough interest or the potential for losses.
For these games, localization just made sense. First, Nintendo of Europe already localized these games in English, and second, there was an obvious interest in these games made clear by Operation Rainfall.
JB: Helping get Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story released in North America has been a pretty big accomplishment. You still have Pandora’s Tower on your list and many believe that this will be the hardest to bring to North America. What do you think the odds of this game coming to North America are and when will you really start pushing this game?
RT: We feel that with XSEED picking up the localization of The Last Story, the chances of them picking up Pandora’s Tower is good. Since Nintendo and XSEED already have the relationship over The Last Story, it makes sense that the relationship would continue in bringing over Pandora’s Tower. We hope that we have showed both Nintendo of America and XSEED that there is a lot of interest in Pandora’s Tower.
We will start pushing for Pandora’s Tower on April 13th, when the game is released in Europe, and we will continue that push through May.
JB: I know you get a lot of requests from fans to add games to your campaign and with Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story set to release; sooner or later you will need to add more games to your list. What games are you thinking of adding in the future and when might you add those games?
RT: We do have our eyes on a few games, but we need to know which games are going to be localized and which are not. We’ll know more about this after E3, so we’re not going to be making any announcements about adding new games until after E3.
But, some of the games we have our eyes on include Bravely Default, Fire Emblem for the 3DS, and there has even been some talk about adding Mother 3 to the campaign. But again, at this time we are just thinking about games to add, it’s entirely possible that none of those games will be added to our campaign.
JB: Obviously you owe a lot to all of your groups fans for getting you the amount of press and coverage you have gotten. This really stands to show that fans can actually push big companies and show them what it is they want. Do you think that what has happened with Operation Rainfall has been an exception or that this sort of thing will be looked at more closely by companies in the future?
RT: Well I think the conditions were perfect for our campaign because of Nintendo of Europe already localizing these games in English. I do think though that Nintendo has taken notice of Operation Rainfall. I honestly believe, as does all the staff, that these games would not have been released in the Americas if Operation Rainfall had never formed. I think the way Nintendo of America is localizing these games, by making deals with retailer GameStop and publisher XSEED, shows this to be the case. This is something that Nintendo just doesn’t do, and yet here they are, doing it.
Our fans have been great. If not for all of our followers contacting Nintendo of America, we would be nothing more than a few people that are easy to ignore. Our followers have made us pretty much impossible for Nintendo of America to ignore through their participation of our campaign.
JB: I hear this a lot on your Facebook page. What do you think about adding something like Mother 3 to your list of games? Do you think there is still any chance that we will get this game in North America or even Europe?
RT: Ha, well as I mentioned before, we have considered Mother 3 because we know there is A LOT of interest in getting this game localized. As I understand it, the creator of the fan English translation of the game has offered to give the translation free of charge if a company decided to publish the game. This has sparked our interest in perhaps adding the game to our campaign, but at this point, we are just considering it and nothing more.
I do think though if Nintendo of America can work out any legal issues they may have with localizing the game, people will buy it, yes.
JB: Is there anything else that you would like to say to fans and possible buyers of Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower?
RT: Just thank you for the support over the last 8 months of our campaign. Without you all, none of this would have been possible. But the best thing anybody can do for not only Operation Rainfall, but to ensure that other “niche” games get localized in the future, is by buying these games! Nintendo of America has listened; let’s show them they made the right choice in localizing these games!
Ryan Tyner, Co-leader of Operation Rainfall