I wasn’t a big fan of marketing classes, but I learned one thing : in market economy, you must think of the client first. A company must deliver where, when and the price the client wants. Platinum Games failed at this. Their clients wanted Bayonetta 2 on Playstation or Xbox, they deliver on WiiU. Their clients expected a 60€ pricetag, they made it 360€.
With such a hazardous commercial strategy, the results are pretty clear : in Japan, Bayonetta 2 sold only 33’114 copies at release (or 38’828 if you follow Media Create). It’s more or less equivalent to Bullet Girls or Action Neptune U, two PSVita action games less known for their action part than for their lavish fan-service. There is no greater humiliation for the contender for the action game of the year. But beyond that, it is essential to remember the sales of the 1st Bayonetta in Japan : 138’000 on PS3 in its first week (223’272 in total) and 66’211 on Xbox360 (118’165). Bayonetta 2 sold twice less than Bayonetta 1 on 360, a system despised by the Japanese. That speaks volumes about how the Japanese fans of the series think about the change of course at PG. Consequently, 84% of Bayonetta 1 day one buyers didn’t come for Bayonetta 2.
Maybe I should wait until October to draw conclusions. But Bayonetta happens to have only 47’000 preorders on VGC, and statistically VGC’s preorders are overtracked. A turnabout in the west seems unlikely. Operation Platinum is delusional : no, philanthropic gamers ain’t one million. No, it is foolish to expect WiiU owners to get together to save private Platinum. No, gamers ain’t investing 360€ for Bayonetta 2 when PS4 and XboxOne will have all the other action games for themselves, as well as nearly all the games of all the other genres by the way.
Where do we go from here? A company with a 84% unsatisfaction rate can’t go really far… The good news is that the developer is not unemployed. The bad news is thaat as things stand now, they’re going straight into the wall anyway. I can’t tell about Legend of Korra because I don’t know the IP at all, but it is clear that making an XboxOne exclusive was the worst possible decision after the Bayonetta 2 debacle (unless they run for the Guinness of the longest series of ludicrous business decisions). Working exclusively on a system that isn’t popular at all in Japan and Europe will only delay their eventual collapse. A ambitious developer like Platinum Games definitely cannot ignore PS4 during this generation. But yeah, they’re not totally in control of that…
Here comes Sega. The situation is the following : Sega owns the Bayonetta IP, they have 84% of clients waiting and Platinum Games is always ready for some work. Even though Nintendo publishes Bayonetta 2, nothing stops Sega from making a Bayonetta 2 Climax/Director’s Cut/GOTY edition on PS3, PS4, Xbox360, XboxOne or even Atari 2600 if they want to! This intriguing tweet from a journalist of GameInformer suggests such plans at the Osaka-based company. Better still, this series of tweets from Hideki Kamiya himself. This testimony from the most famous blocker of Twitter is extremely important. His story goes like this : after Bayonetta 1, PG and Sega reached an agreement in making a sequel, and the development began. Sometimes in 2012, while the development was advancing as planned, Sega suddenly withdrew from the project. What happened after is well known. We learn two things : Bayonetta 2 was originally a multi-platform game under Sega’s supervision, which contradicts their numerous statements when they say they «nothing to do with this». More important, their is in PG’s hard disks a work-in-progress version of Bayonetta 2 that belongs to Sega! Sega can logically resume the development of Bayonetta 2 for others consoles anytime. In short, a situation eerily similar to Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge, the development of which on PS360 had been hidden by Tecmo. At a time when whichever super-HD remake is easy money, who would believe that Sega is gonna ignore 84% of one million gamers out in the cold crying in front of WiiU shelves, when the technology is ready, the 3D models here already and the design finalized?
A company that turn its back at its clients doesn’t go anywhere : Platinum Games must return to its fans if they want to go on in this industry. The best way to do it is to port Bayonetta 2, it’s the only way to re-establish confidence. The developer could come back via other projects like a sequel to Metal Gear Rising, but that wouldn’t erase two years of frustration.