Talking Point: The Growing Storm of Operation Rainfall
Posted by Zach Kaplan
For Operation Rainfall to have any success, it will have to last longer and become stronger than any Internet-based video game movement in memory. It's tough to hold an organisation together that never or sporadically meets face-to-face. It's anyone's guess what shape it will take next, but if it doesn't operate intelligently, it risks becoming as ineffective as a lone gamer who individually boycotts Skyward Sword within a sea of customers clamouring for copies. Monado's slippage from the Amazon top five speaks volumes, and if it continues to fall, Xenoblade, let alone Last Story or Pandora's Tower, may not stand a chance of seeing localisation.
Nintendo has a number of options as well. It risks appearing weak if it alters its plan of action too drastically, but it risks looking stubborn if it doesn't. And a small release isn't the Big N's style – it might choose to go large-scale with the marketing, in which case it'll need a big profit to make it worthwhile. Finally, Nintendo could rock the foundation and allow another company like XSEED to publish the titles in North America. Ninty would come out looking like champs, sending a message that it truly is open to help from third parties, that it doesn't think it's better or smarter than its consumers and that the reason it didn't say anything before was because that was the publisher's right. "What were you all so angry about?" it might ask. "What were we all so angry about?" the fans might respond.
But a large responsibility lies with every Operation Rainfall member as well. Amazon preorders aren't written in stone – if Nintendo plans a big release and half of its projected consumer base disappears, not only will the company look weak, but foolish too, and that's not a good place from which to launch the Wii U. If that happens, excepting guaranteed-to-sell IPs, it's all exercise games and seek-and-finds from here on out. Every single preordering customer will have to make good on their promise or risk shooting themselves in the foot.
More than this, though – we can never go back to the days of Red Steel 2 and Little King's Story underperforming at retail and scaring publishers away. Because if Operation Rainfall is a big success, the game companies will ask if it could have been done without the grassroots effort. Realistically and historically, the answer is probably no. So, if Xenoblade would have flopped without such strong Internet support, and the Internet supporters aren't there to make subsequent mature titles a hit, why bother continuing to release such games for Wii or its successors? Operation Rainfall members need to show companies that if Xenoblade succeeds, it wasn't just a fluke, or no one will ever take a Nintendo console seriously as a platform for such titles.
Some companies will see the success as a good sign and take a risk or two, and when they do, they'll need the movement's support. Operation Rainfall cannot end if and when its anticipated games see release: its members will have to drum up grassroots exposure for these new games as well or risk going back to square one.
But the future's not ours to see – only time will tell where this leads. Will Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story and/or Pandora's Tower make it to North America, and, if so, will you buy them? Is Nintendo stubborn and arrogant, smart, or all three? Is Operation Rainfall inspiring, or do you think it will amount to democracy inaction? Voice your comments below!