A recent piece from Dualshockers detailing an interview between Vanillaware President George Kamitani and 4Gamer revealed that the studio's current headliner, Dragon’s Crown, was rejected by publisher Capcom before landing a foothold at UTV Ignition Entertainment, and later bouncing to the game’s final publisher, Atlus. At first glance, the game’s initial rejection may appear a bit off-putting. Capcom is a respectable player in the games industry, so its dismissal of the project does, to some degree, speak to the merit of Dragon’s Crown. However, the game’s current Japanese success suggests that the 2D action-RPG was not only better served without Capcom, but literally more valuable because it “was not able to get the final approval” from the house of Resident Evil.
After failing at one publisher and being dropped at another, Dragon’s Crown has gone on to carve a name for itself, and, in turn, its creators. The game’s first Japanese shipment sold out in a mere three days, leaving its coming August 6th stateside release with optimistic expectations. Beyond raw numbers, this shows that, in spite of its colorful release process—one seen far too often in the games industry, which usually ends in a lengthened “cancelled projects” list—Dragon’s Crown is slated to be a successful RPG.
Sure, it’s a nice “rise of the underdog” story, but there’s much more at work here. First and foremost, we’ve got to account for the platforms involved: the Vita and PlayStation 3. The PS3 is no stranger to RPGs, but the Vita is in dire need of games like Dragon’s Crown. Releasing on the Vita makes the game uniquely valuable to PlayStation gamers, which led to free marketing via word of mouth. Beyond excitement for the game itself, players were hyped for “a new RPG on the Vita!” This notion alone tacked further anticipation onto the game’s release.
More importantly, though, is that Dragon’s Crown could easily become a flare-up for Atlus, and boy do they need it. With the studio’s parent company already auctioning away its assets after a bankruptcy declaration and fraud investigation, Atlus needs a hit. Sure, Shin Megami Tensei IV is great, but it lacks one of the biggest elements of Dragon’s Crown: a new name. Better still, thanks to Capcom’s rejection, Atlus now has the opportunity to play a new card when promoting itself and seeking new partners. “The backers of Devil May Cry, Monster Hunter and Resident Evil didn’t want this game, but we made it a hit,” or something to that effect would greatly aid the floundering publisher.
Beyond a promotional ace, Dragon’s Crown adds a welcomed bit of variety to Atlus’ 2013 lineup. Again, we see that this isn’t just “a good thing”; Atlus needs it, especially when competing with NIS America, who’s currently dominating the JRPG market. With little more than series sequels Shin Megami Tensei IV and Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl going for it, Atlus was doomed to fall behind NIS, which is currently touting Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness, The Guided Fate Paradox, and The Witch and the Hundred Knights (all of which are also only available for PlayStation). That’s to say nothing of the brainchild Time and Eternity, which has already released (and been reviewed by our own Shelby Reiches). Adding a new IP like Dragon’s Crown to its mix helps put Atlus on par with NIS as well as other JRPG giants like Aksys and Namco, companies that have already confirmed promising 2013 agendas.
Obviously, Dragon’s Crown has yet to release in the U.S., so its future shouldn’t be treated as anything concrete. However, its impressive Japanese figures and positive preview reception (which you can read up on here with our hands-on preview of the game) bode well for the game’s future. And quite frankly, after passing up such a lucrative title, I’m willing to bet that Capcom’s top brass is too busy kicking its own ass to worry about much else.