With the announcement of The Last Story coming to North America, Operation Rainfall’s work appears to be almost done. Their third and final objective is Pandora’s Tower, which is launching in Europe about the same time North Americans will get their hand on Xenoblade Chronicles. On the surface it appears their grass roots movement has been a success: Operation Rainfall supporters made their presence known to Nintendo and pushed Nintendo with American fan power to get the titles out here… right? Honestly, I have a feeling NoA hardly considered Operation Rainfall and its supporters when making their decision. Chances are, they were thinking about Europeans.
It’s no secret that that the North American and European markets tend to overlap a lot more than with Japan. Just look at this week’s Media Create sales figures for Japan, where the Xbox 360 was successfully outsold by the PlayStation 2. No, not PlayStation 3. Two. The second iteration. In fact, when NoA was asked about Xenoblade Chronicles, much like most of their other previously unlocalized titles that hit Europe, Reggie gave his typical response of watching to see “what happens in Europe.” And sure enough, that’s probably why we’re seeing NoA actually take the step forward. While Nintendo of Europe hasn’t announced any official numbers, Xenoblade Chronicles sold well enough that the initial shipment quickly dried up. That alone is a good indication that the title had some demand, at least enough to catch NoA’s attention. The Last Story’s localization is possible probably due to the fact that the audiences for each title are nearly identical.
So, does Operation Rainfall deserve any credit? It’s hard to say. There are a lot of loud fan bases out there. Nintendo’s very own Mother series quite possibly has some of the loudest ones. I’m sure we all know that first hand because… Well, just look at how many Mother marathons we’ve had. Despite how loud these fan bases get, rarely do things go their way, especially with large companies who only support a one way form of communication: from themselves to their consumers. I highly doubt a flood of letters asking for Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story did much in terms of getting NoA to take action.
If anything, where Operation Rainfall played a roll was raising awareness of Xenoblade Chronicles to European consumers. A lot of gaming press sites overlap between the European and North American regions, so I’d imagine it’d be hard for Europeans to ignore the sudden uprising of fans screaming at Nintendo via the internet. Would Xenoblade Chronicles have sold as well otherwise? Who knows. But it’s hard to deny that many European gamers – who may have had no idea what Xenoblade Chronicles was – suddenly knew about the title, along with two other releases.
At the end of the day, I doubt those behind Operation Rainfall care all that much about the impact they may or may not have had on Nintendo. The goal was a stateside release of all three titles. Even if we miss out on Panodra’s Tower, it’d be hard to be completely dissatisfied at the end of the day with two quality titles hitting North American shores.