JUNE 28, 2011
NETROOTS EFFORT SPOTLIGHTS M.I.A. NINTENDO GAMES
Fans of Nintendo's Japan-only release Xenoblade (aka Monado) pushed the videogame to the top of Amazon's preorder chart this past weekend in a bid to request a Western release.
The movement began June 22 on IGN's Wii message board and was soon organized into a campaign known as Operation Rainfall. Initially built around a coordinated letter writing effort requesting the Western release for three Nintendo-published Wii games currently available only in Japan (Monolithsoft's Xenoblade, Mistwalker's The Last Story and Ganbarion's Pandora's Tower), Rainfall soon morphed into a hybrid lobbying effort with its own blog, Twitter and Facebook sites. However, the most noticeable outgrowth was the spontaneous Amazon pre-ordering effort for Xenoblade that topped the online retailer's chart from June 25-27. During the same time period, fans sidetracked a posting on Nintendo's Facebook page that offered birthday wishes for Sonic the Hedgehog, with the majority of the over-3,400 replies requesting information pertaining to a Western release date for Xenoblade (the first game Rainfall has targeted). Nintendo took notice: their ensuing Facebook update thanked fans for their enthusiasm and urged them to watch for updates.
Rainfall has been noticed by the media, too, with articles appearing on IGN, Kotaku, Joystiq, Eurogamer, Destructoid, Siliconcera and other gaming sites, some of whom have contacted Nintendo directly for comment.
"Nintendo assures me a statement is coming," said IGN Nintendo Editor Rich George in an update on that site's message board. "They generally don't keep quiet like this unless they're mulling over what to say or are approving through Japan."
Releasing games in Western territories that had been exclusively available in Japan is not a new idea for Nintendo. In a November 2010 meeting with investors, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata broached the possibility of localizing games for Nintendo's handheld DS system.
"Some software has already proved its marketability in Japan but is still not available in the overseas’ markets, and for some software titles, our localization teams are currently spending time to localize them," he said.
With the Wii's 2011 release schedule lacking marquee Nintendo-published titles, some analysts expected the company to announce Wii localizations to bolster the console's library. However, gaming's biggest media summit, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), passed in June without any release dates given. Reggie Fils-Aime, President and Chief Operating Officer of Nintendo of America, was quoted at E3 by Kotaku as having "nothing to announce" regarding any of the games in Operation Rainfall's campaign.
That may change when the original letter-writing campaign kicks into high gear. Letter templates are available on Rainfall's blog (http://oprainfall.blogspot.com) and original IGN message board post, along with target dates for their delivery (July 11-13 for Xenoblade, July 18-20 for The Last Story and July 25-27 for Pandora's Tower).
"Even if nothing comes of it, the folks involved with Operation Rainfall have managed a pretty cool (and calm) feat here," said IGN's George. "It's admirable to say the least."