Last August, I was telling you how Senran Kagura 2 Deep Crimson for 3DS had failed miserably, despite the success of Senran Kagura Shinobi Versus one year before on PSVita. Deep Crimson had seen its price tank after a few days. Taken aback by this debacle, Nintendo had thought about a magazine especially dedicated to bishojo games on Nintendo hardware. In vain, because Deep Crimson left the charts with a little more than 65’000 sales, whilst being traded for as less as 2000 yens. This is twice less than what Shinobi Versus had achieved within 48 hours on a much tinier install base. It came as no surprise that Marvelous later stated that Deep Crimson and Lord of Magna on 3DS also, had failed to reach profitability threshold.
But dirty crows were already making up all sorts of excuses to justify that poor performance of the returning series : the Senran Kagura anime that aired in 2013 artificially inflated Shinobi Versus’ sales, they said. Vita’s price cut had more people pick the game, and now Senran Kagura was just facing series fatigue, that’s all. No one wanted to acknowledge the truth, which was that costumers felt defiance towards Marvelous’s step back with the series and resisted buying a product of lower quality.
Then begins a long and tense period, because the sequel to Shinobi Versus on PSVita and PS4, called Estival Versus, was to release in Japan on March 26th 2015 alongside huge franchises like Sword Art Online Lost Song, One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 and Bloodborne. Forecast were bad : COMG and Tsutaya had Vita version low and the PS4 one barely charting. Conflicting reports had either version out of stock in some parts of Tokyo and Osaka. The anguish was unbearable.
The suspense ended when producer Takaki himself stated that Estival Versus had shipped more than 100’000 units and was 80-90% sold through, adding to this 10’000 digital sales. Media Create and Famitsu confirmed that with 75’000 units sold and low remaining stock. The spin-off Estival Versus had thus sold twice more than the 2nd game of the main series. But in fact, there’s no longer spin-off and main series : there is a high quality Senran Kagura and a lower quality Senran Kagura. People buy the quality product, which is tied to to quality of the hardware it runs on.
The success of Estival Versus is the final and conclusive proof that Senran Kagura is a Playstation series and should stay so : people have voted with their wallets, and Sony got to majority on both rounds. And this time there was no anime, no price cut of the system, only the fiercest competition you could imagine. Estival Versus puts a end (or a least we hope so) to more than one year of a Cold War waged by Nintendo’s aggressive and damaging policies, which did nothing but undermine Marvelous, its developers and customers. The publisher learned the lesson : Takaki-san’s next project, Valkyrie Drive, will be only for Vita, as well as Luminous Arc Infinity, out this summer. General trend actually, since Vita and PS4 get the vast majority of 3rd party projects. Publishers do realize now that there’s more money to make than on 3DS : Estival Versus sells at a much higher average price than Deep Crimson, but there’s more.
With an integrated Playstation ecosystem, there are synergies to be made that wouldn’t be possible on 3DS/WiiU. On March 24th, that is to say two days before Estival Versus, KoeiTecmo and Marvelous cooperate to market a line of Senran Kagura costumes for Dead or Alive 5 Last Round (hella fantastic DLC btw). On the other side, Dead or Alive characters are already confirmed for Estival Versus. This kind of collaboration means juicy royalties for both companies. But it is only possible with a transverse audience, with a given purchasing power and accustomed to DLC, and surely not with kiddies bent on their Yôkai all day long.
Democracy and gamers’ passion have spoken. They are stronger than financial intrigues and shall vanquish those who want lower gaming standards. Amusing coincidence, the subtitle for Estival Versus is «the girls’ choice»… or was that really a coincidence?