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Following the announcement of Xenoblade in the PAL regions (and it’s not an April Fool since a page for the game has been created on UK Nintendo website with also the first European trailer), renamed for the situation Xenoblade Chronicles, I will briefly explore the sales of the game in Japan, where it came out almost one year ago, on June 10, 2010.
The numbers: 141.059 units as the last week of the year for Famitsu, around 160.000 for Media Create, reasonably about 150.000 copies sold in Japan in 2010. Certainly, not astonishing but not too bad: a decent result in my opinion for several reasons.
First, it’s the best selling game from Monolith Soft. in Japan after Nintendo purchasing (except for Dragon Ball licensed titles for Namco Bandai). In fact, Xenoblade went to sell more than the two Baten Kaitos on GameCube (108,615 copies for the first one and just 44.297 for Origins), Disaster: Day of Crisis on Wii (27.896 copies) and the acclaimed Some Bringer on DS (barely above the 100.000 units); aside from tie-in games, it also sold more than the two Super Robot Taisen OG Saga always on DS.
Second, everybody knows the particular situation of the Wii userbase, unwilling to explore new fields, namely genres, outside the classic Nintendo proposition; almost all jRPGs on Wii have tanked, and the most niche games failed to expand their little boundaries. Therefore, Xenoblade showed nice numbers against an average advertising campaigne and very little interest from Nintendo compared to its other big jRPG production, The Last Story, which received bundles, special TV presentation and more.
Third, despite the different scenario and gameplay, Xenoblade is aligned with the Xenosaga sales decline, and assuming it has reached the 180.000 mark (not very unlikely after all) it sold at par with the last title of the former series, Xenosaga Episode III, which saw 181,297 units by being released in 2006, on a platform, PS2, with a huge jRPG-fanbase.
Finally, the sales pattern is good compared to the typical path of its genre, which usually exploites its commerciale life in a few weeks, by selling the 70% and more of the LTD in the first days. Instead, it seems that Xenoblade was able to catch attentions after the release, with word-of-mouth and a high response from magazines and website. It has also one of the best rating on the japanese Amazon within the Wii category (where it is still at the same launch price and keeps holding on in the best-sellers chart).
For these reasons, I strongly believe the relationship between Nintendo and Monolith Soft. is going to continue with a good amount of productions, maybe with a sequel of this game; surely, the announcement of Xenoblade Chronicles shows a certain interest of the company to introduce it to a wider audience (demonstrated also by the translation which will span five languages plus the dual voices, English and Japanese), hoping for a start of a new franchise; the bases which have been built are pretty solid and for this time, Nintendo has worked well in one of its most unexplored ground.