Action, adventure, and fighting an 800-pound gorilla that has gone super sayian are only a bit of what Monster Hunter has to offer. Monster Hunter was originally released on the PlayStation 2 in the early 2000s, and was relatively unknown in the West for a long time. Nevertheless, Capcom saw a potential market in the Western Hemisphere, and continued to release games in the series sporadically. A large influx of gamers came to learn about the series during the Monster Hunter Tri era, which released on the Wii during 2010. This title would later see multiple iterations released in various consoles, including the PlayStation Portable as Monster Hunter Portable 3rd. During this time, the series’ popularity would continue increasing exponentially, eventually culminating with the release of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on the Nintendo 3DS. Afterwards, though, the series started taking a dive in popularity as Monster Hunter Generations failed to sell as expected in North America, and now Monster Hunter XX has failed to get half as many sales in its first week compared to previous titles.
Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was the series’ pinacle; a point where gamers who had never even touched a single title of these games joined up with veterans to become hunters themselves! New and old were fighting side by side, and the series finally had a breath of fresh air from which many legendary hunters emerged. It isn’t very surprising, though, as Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate has everything that older fans want, and newer ones liked from the Monster Hunter series. Yet, it seems somewhere along the lines, Capcom decided that fans didn’t know what they want. The next title in the series was not a numbered one, and came about as almost a bit of an experiment.
Monster Hunter X (with the ‘X’ pronounced as ‘cross’), or Generations as it was known in the west, was the next title in the series. Originally, it was unknown if Capcom had plans to release it in the Western shores, but after a massive campaign on twitter with the hashtag #MonsterHunterXforthewest, they finally released their plans of the launch for North America and Europe. This had a lot of fans rejoicing as they could finally play the newest games in one of their favorite franchises, however, this happiness wouldn’t last. After fans had already bought the game, they started noticing a distinct lack of content. Nobody truly knows what happened, but there was a lack of “G” mode, and monsters in the title that really irritated players. Another was the bothersome focus on the fighting styles, which could actually hinder other players, but one thing was certain: Capcom had messed up in the eyes of American and European fans.
It’s interesting to note that there is a very well established pattern for the release of titles in the Monster Hunter franchise. A lot of the times Capcom launches a new game, they’re sort of “experimental” versions which try out new weapons or formulas, but lack the full content of the final release in the particular number (see Monster Hunter Tri Ultimate and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate). Fans should have known that this would be no different in this case, but as the hype was so large it is easy to understand how this could be overlooked. But the fans in Japan were a lot more forgiving and Monster Hunter X continually topped the charts in its home country. This is also how the series has been from the beginning to them, thus they have grown accustomed to this behavior. Fans in the West are simply less forgiving of these traits as they’ve been “spoiled” for a bit by having free online multiplayer (in Japan it’s subscription based), and usually receiving the full version. Yet, now it seems that even the Japanese are catching on to Capcom and the sales of Monster Hunter XX aren’t half as expected.
Monster Hunter XX first week sales were finally released by anime news network and they are a bit alarming. During its first week in the market, Monster Hunter XX topped the charts, selling a respectable 800,000 copies in this time-frame. Normally this would be great news, except if you look at the sales of previous titles in the series for comparison. During its first week, Monster Hunter 4 sold over double that amount. Monster Hunter X and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate both sold a little less than double that amount during their respective first weeks as well. This does not bode well for a series which is starting to fall victim to Capcom’s infamous sequel stagnation. Capcom really needs to rethink their marketing strategy if they intend to continue with Monster Hunter as one of their flagship series. As a long-time fan of the series, it does pain me to see their sales falter, but, honestly, it’s starting to get tiresome at this point, and I am glad to have ended my experience with its highest point in MH4U.
P.S. This isn’t the first time we’ve paid attention to the series’ dwindling popularity as one of our previous articles has made a note of it: Monster Hunter on Life Support.