There are games that will sell no matter what. Grand Theft Auto VI it could be released in a state so broken it killed your first born, and still sell a billion copies on its first day. Wild Breath 2 they could be laced with anthrax and people would buy two copies each. So that’s it, no matter what state Pokémon Scarlet And Viola (PSV) was released in, it was guaranteed to do extraordinarily well. The fact that it’s so, very broken is devastating, but it will never significantly affect its inevitable sales. What’s more interesting is how, for the most part, they still enjoy themselves.
I know I am.
Only UK data is only now availablebut these show PSV be the second largest sale Pokémon game of all time, beaten only by the 3DS Sun And moon. In fact, it could be much larger than that given that these are boxed sales figures only, as Nintendo doesn’t release download data. Scarlet And Viola could easily rack up the highest opening week figures for the franchise, despite being the most unfinished Pokémon to date.
Then why? Well, there are a lot of factors at play here. But I think it comes down to a combination of hype, nostalgia, and the fact that as much as we like to complain, people are willing to play broken games.
Pokémon it unequivocally benefits from one of the hardest things to get right in gaming: a formula. (Which is the polite way to call it stereotypical.) I like it call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Smash Bros., or many other successful franchises, audiences are looking for the game models they already know, but perhaps with incremental improvements. People want what’s familiar, even nostalgic, but also with enough innovation to always feel slightly different from the last one. And while many will protest, they want leaps underway, and will likely sue BOT extension compared to the previous Zelda incarnations, they would also be absolutely livid if Kingdom tears proven to be wildly different from its predecessor.
While PSV may have been promoted as a dramatic shift from Spade And Shield– the advent of an open world, with three times as many story paths to explore, and you can even do the gyms in any order – the reality is, as we watched the trailers, it looked familiar enough to pre-order. You would have bought it anyway, right? Why not get that bonus item? Look, the Psyducks are here! The fact that Nintendo limited reviews to the day before release (to sites they deemed well-mannered enough to review, of course) certainly didn’t help, making it very difficult for any outlet to communicate to readers or viewers just how broken this game is. is.
Read more: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet players are trying to get refunds
Of course, we in the gaming press self-aggrandise ourselves when we even imagine that our words about such a mainstream game series like this could materially affect sales. It doesn’t matter that only a fraction of people will change their minds Not buy a game after seeing bad reviews. As those early sales figures show, the extensive coverage of the game’s serious problems has done nothing to dent its popularity.
Well, that’s the excitement before buying, but what happens after people start playing? Well, again, niche groups run the risk of believing themselves to be far more representative of the general population than they actually are, and in this case it’s the Public Outraged who are deluding themselves.
Yesterday, I wrote about how much I was enjoying playing Pokémon Scarlet in cooperative. Know how A Kotaku commenter would respond immediately, I strongly warned the article with disclaimer that, yes, it definitely wasn’t released in good enough condition. I said that because I believe it: It’s no good for a publisher the size of Nintendo to release a $60, AAA game knowing it’s playing as a beta build. They knew what condition it was in, but they also knew a Pokémon the release date can’t be missed, due to the ridiculous number of dominoes that would fall on a multi-billion dollar franchise. And people who read about a specialized gaming site like this are absolutely right to be upset about it. It’s just that they are also inclined to think that they are the majority and that their righteousness is representative. So much so that, despite my remorse at acknowledging it, commentators still felt the need to indignantly inform me that the game is unacceptably broken, and this moral corruption ensures the game’s end.
Still, I bet they’re still playing. I bet they’re furious, but they still want their Koraidon to be able to climb walls, so they’re just going to have one more battle with the Titans. Yup, there are some who ask for refundsbut the real majority are still going ahead with everything, except not being furious while doing so.
It also seems very likely that the amount of attention that is drawn to the game is of its own more and more fun bugs and glitches it might also help. Sure, you’re watching a clip of someone falling off the floor, but you’re also reminded that this is new Pokémon the game exists. And, aside from that bit where the boy fell off the floor, it’s bright, colorful, and filled with adorable, cute critters!
But perhaps more than anything, the truth is you Power play the game. It incessant autosavesand while absolutely inexcusable, crashes are the game’s rarest problems. I’ve encountered so many silly issues with the game, but the genuine response I mostly have is to show my kid so we can laugh at how silly it looks, or him to me. And then we continue to enjoy the game.
I’m far more infuriated by how the game wastes Poké Balls by refusing to catch lower level creatures with a fraction of health remaining, than I am by the fact that every time I’m on a slope the game shows me its underwear. My patience is tested every time the game tells me that a Pokémon is sleeping, and for no reason it tells me again that the Pokémon is sleeping, and then immediately tells me that the Pokémon hasn’t done anything because it is sleeping, before I can take another damn turn. It’s not as challenged by my Koraidon’s disappearance, so it looks like it’s floating above the ground.
As a game critic, I’m amazed by Pokémon Scarlet And Viola‘s janky release, and will gladly warn people from it until it’s patched up in heaven. As an enthusiast, I play it in small windows of free time, trying to fill my Pokédex, buying new hats, and getting overly excited when my Pokémon team evolves. It’s definitely not good enough, both in terms of its technical awfulness, and its lack of ambition beyond greater scope. If I were writing a review, it would be an infuriating one where I list in great detail everything I think Game Freak should have done better, and then add that I’m having a blast playing it.
The Pokémon games have a hook, and it’s good. There’s a reason it’s one of the most successful game franchises in the world, surviving its main game cycle for over 25 years and continuing to do so despite the complaints of a minority with each new release. That minority are most likely right, but what the success of the series proves is that being right doesn’t amount to much in the face of this juggernaut. And, you know, a juggernaut that you bought and are playing, despite everything.