Earlier this week, WiiUAndMii writer William Robinson was reduced to a blubbering mess* when we broke the news to him that Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker‘s planned Winter 2014 European release had been moved to January 2015. Questions were raised as to why the delay happened and when NintendoLife reached out to the British branch of the big N, they received an answer:
“In order to optimise the best possible launch timing for Europe, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, originally announced as coming to Wii U in Winter 2014 is now confirmed to launch in the European market in January 2015.“
To be honest, this was my belief all along as this Christmas period is going to be absolutely jam-packed. From Nintendo alone, we’re going to have Mario Kart 8 celebrating its first Christmas, as well as highly anticipated releases like Pokémon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U and the launch of the amiibo platform, with the Q3 releases of Hyrule Warriors and Bayonetta 2 also probably being strong Christmas staples for older Wii U owners. Those higher profile releases will take a lot of attention away from Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, so it makes sense that Nintendo Europe might instead be hoping to launch the game in time to hit the influx of shoppers who would be hoping to hit the January sales, or spend some Christmas money they received from distant relatives who basically don’t know what the kids actually like (everyone has at least one).
As those who follow this website would know, I absolutely love Bravely Default – so much so that I made Operation Brave a thing. I was beyond happy when the game was released in Europe last December, but I am still angry at how little impact it’s release has had (it didn’t even break into the Top 40 chart on week of release!). However, the game performed a lot stronger when it was released in North America in February of this year. Without any exact figures in front of me, I can’t make any conclusive comments on the difference but there are a few points which do come to mind:
Bravely Default was released in North America this February, which was a relatively empty period for gaming. Nintendo of America took advantage of the lack of competition and ran adverts for the game on the popular Toonami programming block. They also ran a series of humorous viral-marketing type videos that tried to explain the concept of the Brave/Default mechanic in a pretty hilarious way (with pizza!).
In comparison, the game was released in Europe last December and Nintendo Europe’s strategy revolved entirely on online marketing, which I think of as “preaching to the converted”. Sure, Nintendo France ran some banners on anime streaming websites like Wakanim, but everything I saw from Nintendo UK was either focused around their social media channels or the Official Nintendo Magazine website. Heck, the December 2013 issue of the Official Nintendo Magazine didn’t even feature the game on its front cover – instead, it had Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, which at the time was a whole year away!
The Release Period:
Even forgetting the large number of competitors on other platforms for a second, when Bravely Default launched in Europe in the beginning of December 2013, it had to fight against GameFreak’s Pokémon X/Y pair and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on 3DS, as well as the Wii U’s Super Mario 3D World. All three of those are much bigger names than a niche JRPG and in fact, Nintendo UK held the Pokémon Winter Event the day after Bravely Default was released! There was clearly a massive conflict of interest and Bravely Default lost out.
When the game was released in North America though, it was during a near industry-wide software drought. Bravely Default had very little competition, so with even a slight push, it was able to perform far better than it did in Europe to the extent that it even made Square Enix realise that western gamers like it when Japanese developers make Japanese games.
Although Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a spin-off of Nintendo’s famous Mario franchise, there’s no doubt about it being a far lower profile release than the other goodies Nintendo are bringing the Wii U this holiday season, so keeping Bravely Default in mind, it does make sense that Nintendo Europe would want to be more safe than sorry when it comes to Captain Toad. At the moment, we know little about what gamers can expect in January, so this could give Nintendo Europe some space to give the game a bigger marketing push than it might have received if released alongside Super Smash Bros. or Pokémon.
What do you think of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker‘s delay in Europe?
* Will didn’t actually cry, but he was very disappointed.