Final Fantasy VII came out in 1997. Fans treated the game as if it was sacred, the game was one of the finest Final Fantasy games ever. Back then, Japanese role playing games (JRPG's) was the genre to beat. 15 years on and JRPG's have lost their charm and appeal to so many people, or has it?
Intro's aside, lets get straight to the point…
Developers have made their mistakes, this is the simple reasons the state of the genre is what it is.
To improve or broaden the appeal of the genre I believe the following should happen in the order of least to most importance:
10. More online multiplayer JRPG's: there are some people who play games only for the Multiplayer, and it’s the multiplayer feature which is the main selling point of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft & Fifa, and those games sell a LOT ! Where is the western JRPG equivalent of these games? Nowhere to be found, don’t say Monster Hunter as that isn’t that popular in the west. [This will get the online gamers on board]
9. More turn based battle systems/Traditional JRPG's: the only turn based JRPG I can think of this console gen is Lost Odyssey, I am of the view that there are some people who believe the Genre has strayed from what it was and they just want TRADITIONAL JRPG's back. [This well get the old school JRPG gamers on board]
8. Better & smarter marketing & more marketing: I am yet to see a viral video on the internet to promote a JRPG game, viral videos are a good way to advertise, since there is none for JRPG games (that I can think of) it indicates the marketing is poor. Sony spent $100 million on the marketing and promotion of FF7, the game even appeared in Playboy magazines, look at how popular that game was. [This will get all sorts of people on board, even casual gamers]
7. Loss in popularity of FPS games e.g Call of Duty: too many people are buying FPS games, but it seems now that people are getting tired of FPS games, the future looks brighter. Think about it, if a substitute product/competitor is taken out of the equation, it can only mean that the most likely thing that will happen is your sales will increase. [This will get all sorts of people on board, even casual gamers]
6. More localization i.e release more games in the west: how can consumers buy a game if the game isn’t even available in their language and country, how can that JRPG series broaden its fan base if the game isn't available ? [This will keep existing JRPG fans interested in the genre]
5. More real time action battle systems: 1 of the biggest complaints I here is that the JRPG genre usually has archaic battle system, you will notice I already mentioned "More turn based JRPG's", anyway developers are now making more real time action based battle systems. But why not make both more Turnbased and action based JRPG's? They don't need to oppose each other. [This will appeal to the whiners and haters who complain about traditional "archaic" JRPG's]
4. More western themed games (both in terms of story, and characters) e.g dark souls: "oh, the men all look like girls there all borderline heterosexual", "eww, they all have long hair", "all the characters look like children and cartoons, ewww"….yeh you get the point [This will appeal to those whiners]
3. Just 1 epic JRPG to get people into genre, like how COD got people into FPS: FF7 already did this in the past as mentioned in the intro, and we know the effect, but now that effect has started to wear off, we need another game [This will get all sorts of people on board, even casual gamers]
2. Less cliches, better voice acting: a major complaints, possibly the most major, if their were less clichés and better voice acting, most JRPG's would get higher review ratings as reviewers would have 1 less thing to complain about (the thing they complain about most often when they want to pick on the genre), and reviews directly effect sales. [Better reviews=More sales=more fans]
1. Go back to your roots and think about what made JRPG's so great in the golden age (1990-2006) and try to revive those ideas, the loveable characters, the amazing unique stories, the side quests, mini games, exploration, customization, addicting gameplay that rewards you for: levelling up, collecting items, achieving certians things e.t.c am talking to people like you Square Enix.[If this happened we should be back to how the state of the genre was in the Goldenage (1990-2006)]