Faith Not Want: Mirror’s Edge Marketing Failure?

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EA action adventure game Mirror’s Edge ignited much controversy when initially published due to the “Hollywood Oriental” character design, seen by many Japanese as being hard on the eyes. When 2channers redesigned her, they hurt the feelings of the sensitive Swedes who preferred the fanciful amazon look.

Here we see the end result: the game sits in one of Sofmap’s dreaded wagons (actually not a wagon in this case, but you get the point), a general sign of poor sales, for a rock bottom price of ¥2,000, and is still stacked high:

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Relying on one retailer is a little unwise; the game’s performance (PS3) on Amazon.co.jp is similarly lacklustre, barely piercing the top 1,000 games a few months after release. It does quite a bit better on Amazon.com, though not hugely so.

The roles are reversed on the Xbox 360, with a much better ranking on the Japanese version, but this version may be a little hard to compare as the platform still has hardly any traction in Japan.

Even in less deeply discounted retailers than the obviously overstocked Sofmap, you can pick up the game for quite a reduction.

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Since the game was actually well received gameplay wise, we have to wonder whether the scary amazon on the cover has anything to do with this somewhat disappointing performance, whether in Japan or elsewhere (it could hardly be called a complete failure though); perhaps they should have gone with the 2ch version after all…

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94 Comments

  • I’m extremely disgusted at the article’s author for his interpretation of Faith’s looks. One stereotype is not better than the other, and to suggest that 2chan’s version is better is a misrepresentation. The Swede’s had some good points, and boiling it down to “hurt feeling” marginalizes their anger. The moefied Faith honestly does look like a “12-year-old with a boob job”, and I realize that is the taste of the people here, but defending the transformation of a strong heroine into a sex symbol is very disappointing.

    I expected better from this site, but this article has really turned me away from visiting here.

    • Expected better? This is a lot better than the alternative you’ve posited, Anon. Artefact has been frank and unapologetic with his opinions since day one. It’s his “voice,” that which differentiates him from kinder, fuzzier, less interesting bloggers.

      Trying to shame anyone by pretending that this isn’t what you’ve come to expect from him is just poor form.

      “…defending the transformation of a strong heroine into a sex symbol is very disappointing.”

      Nice try. But I bet the only reason you’re even here is because someone sent you a link to scantily clad ladies from the Sankaku Channel.

      • It’s his game, he’ll do what he wants with it. He isn’t required to cater to the customers’ whims, and I’ve found that doing so generally turns the end product into bland, mediocre horseshit. I work in market research and I’m the son of a focus group moderator, I have pretty extensive experience in this.

        “Trying to shame anyone by pretending that this isn’t what you’ve come to expect from him is just poor form.”

        I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here. Are you trying to say that because Artefact doesn’t listen to every last idiot, that Anonymous can’t criticize the people who criticize him for that because his behavior is par for the course? That’s ignoring 2ch’s involvement completely, and by ignoring it you’re implying that the backlash is both universal and inevitable. Maybe the folks at 2chan (and the author) should just cry less.

        “Nice try. But I bet the only reason you’re even here is because someone sent you a link to scantily clad ladies from the Sankaku Channel.”

        This is all kinds of unrelated and retarded. First, he could be here for the articles like I am. I don’t like the porn here, it’s either bland, way too moe, or airbrushed beyond belief. Second, the first and second halves of that sentence aren’t even related. I like the occasional Samus porn, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t get pissed off and dismissive if a whole chunk of the playerbase decided they liked Jiggly’s rendition more.
        Either that sentence was a troll or you meant it and the concepts of sex and sexualizing someone are evidently tied together in your head, since you obviously can’t differentiate them.

        And trust me, Faith’s look played just fine with the NA/EUR markets, while the final one in this (http://www.sankakucomplex.com/2008/12/03/mirrors-edge-moefication/) article would have had those markets disgusted with how she looked. Can’t please everyone, and if you’re going to please someone might as well not make it the small and historically picky one where your type of game has never really performed well anyway.

  • game is shit regardless of how faith looks. extremely frustrating and little reward for beating it.

    the concept behind the game was good but so poorly executed that anything good it had to offer was forgotten in an instant.

    I mean shit man, they really dropped the ball when it came to character design, all the characters concept art unlocked in the game is better than what they decided to go with.

  • The publisher I work for routinely redesigns characters to fit the Japanese market. And it works.

    However I thought the gameplay in Mirror’s Edge was rubbish, based on trying to play the demo and getting stuck halfway. Which was a shame, because I like that kind of running jumping exploring game.

  • I have the game since launch and i like it, though it feels kinda short and time trials are just too damn hard…

    Hopefully they’ll do better in a second game.

    On the Faith thing… While i do like the character design, her mug could certainly be improved and she nees bigger boobs… So, in a rare occasion, i agree with 2chan’s vision…

  • >2chan
    >vippers

    Riiiiiiiiight… and how many of them are there? Their opinions may matter a lot in Japan but what about the rest of the world?

    The rest of the world may not like the swimsuit and large moe eyes effect they’ve given her.

  • Im really disappointed in alot of the fans, especially those at 2ch

    i liked faith how she was, shes not a supermodel but do you expect a supermodel to do what she is doing in game

    i guess if it was just a big breasted bikini wearer running around it would sell well so thats what we have to do now?

  • Well, some FPS games seem to garner some support in Japan. Considering Call of Duty 4 has been subject to a number of remixes of the U.N. Owen styled variety on Niconico Douga. And TF2 seems to be fairly popular too amongst geeks there if you look at the large quantity of comments on the nico posting of machinima Ignis Solus. (Feel free to count the number of times they call the Pyro “kawaii”)

    As to Mirror’s Edge, the very idea of first person platforming seems a bit awkward, you kind of need the whole third person thing going on to ideally judge distance. For further comments on the game, just go over to Zero Punctuation.

    And then Faith’s design. For me she dips straight into the uncanny valley where the few parts of her strangely compressed facial structure that aren’t realistic stand out far more than the parts they did get right. So I’ll take a more stylised to the character over the “realistic” one which to me looks even less human than the overtly stylised “moe” one. (Does that design count as moe these days?)

    But that’s just my two percent of a unit of the currency of your choice.

  • Japs hate themselves because they know what kind of sick bastards they are. They hate themselves so much that don’t want a protagonist to look Asian .
    It isn’t hard to understand that they want to evade from anything reminiscent of the reality they have constructed.

      • Idols perhaps, but what exactly is the likelihood of an idol being as athletic as Faith is, bounding across skyscrapers and chancing death every leap, adept in hand to hand and marksmanship skills fighting military personnel with automatic weapons?

        Oh right, we don’t care about any semblance of realism, just give me my asskicking moeblob despite being totally out of place.

        • I guess the difference here between our beliefs going into this discussion lie with your assumption that, just because their ideal is similar to our own, they must hate themselves.

          My thoughts going into the matter are that, since the world’s communications and standards are so mixed in this generation, that we’re not necessarily shaped to hate our differences, but rather, we’re molded to like the same general things, in this case, a particular idealized Human appearance, like increasingly younger faces, etc.

          That molding is probably concentrated around the demographic group this game happened to be popularized with…

          Now the end result is probably the same, more, “Common” appearances end up being shunned, but not out of hatred, but a striving towards something better. You don’t necessarily have to outright hate something to be pulled into desiring something else.

        • If I lived in a bunch of volcanic islands were earthquakes are constant, and I couldn’t take a goddamned shower because I have to share the same water with the rest of the family and then use the same water for the laundry, and my society was a hierarchic caste structure based on conformity to superiors… yeah, I’d hate vidceogames reminding me of that.

        • Just taking your premises as they come… First it’s, “Not Asian”, now it’s, “Likelihood of a character with such an appearance in these circumstance.”

          Put in terms of, “Realism”, there really isn’t any place one would find anyone of any appearance doing these things…

  • Umm. “Seen by many Japanese as being hard on the eyes?” By that do you mean, some 2channers didn’t like her because she was insufficiently moé and sexualized, or are you actually talking about a broad audience? I mean, the game didn’t sell in Japan because it’s not the kind of game most Japanese gamers are interested in. Not too shocking, that.

    • Well, Faith does look like a pretty blatant stereotype of Asians. It’s possible to have a strong and athletic Asian female hero without making her look like a “Dragon Lady.” It would’ve been nice if the concept artist had bothered looking for pictures of real Asian people on Google (safesearch on or off depending on artist’s preference).

    • It’s more than 2ch. To most asians (like me) her tiny slanted eyes (of which in general most asians do not have, except for Lucy Liu, who is really a model for ugliness in Asian culture) are more of a stereotype. It’s like that Japanese kids book using stereotypical African features for a character they call ‘Blackie.’

      I wouldn’t buy this game in the same way I wouldn’t put money down on something that portrays stereotypes as normal.

  • It’s a marketing failure plain and simple. How difficult would it have been to just localize her looks so she appeals to the Japanese market? They localized Star Ocean for North America. Doing the reverse in this situation makes good business sense despite controversies about racial aesthetics.

      • As far as I know, that’s something Tokyopop had decided to do because things look wrong when they mirrored the manga pages to “localize” it to Western reading styles. I certainly don’t find it troublesome to read it as such. However since I’m not familiar with any manga published in the USA that is not Tokyopop…

        • Manga is being published in Japanese sense of reading in Europe by publishers that have no relation with American ones.
          Guys like Masamune Shirow, doing ex profeso editions for NA audience are total exceptions. Again, it’s westerners who are being localized to fit Japanese production, not the opposite.

        • Tokyopop is a newcomer. DJ Milky AKA Stew Levy hopped the animu bandwagon in 1997 and started Tokyopop as “Mixx Entertainment” 5-8 years AFTER Viz had been successfully publishing old Rumiko Takahashi classics etc.

          Del Ray, Dark Horse, CMX (owned by DC), Broccoli, and Madmen have all stepped into the ring to thankfully challenge Viz and Tokyopop.

          Dark Horse is actually probably the best of them all — they don’t appear to have cendored anything or Americanized the translation; cultural notes, translation notes, and sound effects glossaries are included with most of their manga. Quite a step up compared to Viz and TP.

  • I myself come from Sweden and also played Mirrors Edge which were made by DICE (Same as Battlefield series) The game overall was really fun (abit short) but I liked it. Too bad Japanese are more drawn to their RPG’s, but hey! That’s the diffrence between countrys.

  • Ugh in the US it’s still around 45. I would love to pick this up if it’s 20 bucks but I’ll just wait for it to go lower. It’s a decent game so I have no clue why it’s not selling? No moe?

    • I’m assuming you’re talking about the 2chan version? If so you have to give credit to the japs, cuz you’ll undoubtedly know that animes chicks always get humongous boobs flailing around, and they love it.

  • Too bad for them, it’s actually a fairly decent game. Far too short to spend the $60 it was, but $20 is a steal. If someone can’t get over the face that you almost never even see in the game, then you’re missing out on a fun experience for something exceedingly asinine and childish.

    • It’s called user feedback and usability studies. When you design a product you keep the customers in mind. “We wanted her to be attractive, but we didn’t want her to be a supermodel,” that’s obviously the selfish desires of the designers making the character what they want, and not what the customers want. Any good software designer knows this, obviously they didn’t, hence the low sales. They should’ve taken note of all the people changing her image..hell even here the moe version is preferred, small margin, but it’s also debatable on how many of those who voted the other side would complain about the moe version.

      • For a software yes, this is an userbility issue. However if you happen to be invovled in the game designing process, you will find the product you are making is a mixture of artistic value and interactive entertainment. That gives it the quality of any artwork of any type of media, effectively establishing its own intention and purpose, hence differentiating it from softwares that made with a mere purpose of serving the users’ need. From the interview of maker of the game we know that they ovbiously knew the sport called Parkour, they knew it very well and wanted to convey the seriousness and distinct quality of it.
        They triumphed by inputting all the artistic and decency they can pull off from themselves into the project, considered all the factors that will get across the idea of sincerity, completing a game that brings players into its world of compelling uniqueness and making the people who practice this sport very pleased. Now, if an audience with no artistic ability to look into and appreciate a well build artwork or lack of the necessary mental sophistication to understand and enjoy it, it makes perfect sense that he/she will choose to judge it from the most superficial elements, at a point of view that makes sense to them.
        So, very good choice indeed, some of the japaness people. What we chose define who we are.

        • There are two artists in this world (IMO). One, a commercial artist. Which what he/she needs to do is basically feed what the masses want. Two, an artist itself. Which hopes to do better in what he/she wants (self discovery and so and so) but not feeding the masses.

          Now considering this is a game, without mass appeal, a game isn’t anywhere a game anymore. It’d be an artistic game with deep thinking concepts (Never played the game before, but I doubt there’s any deep thought concepts it), or it’s just making a software that appeals only to the creators itself. That’s basically it. Not too bright if I may say if one wants to market it out to the masses.

          And she scares me…She looks like all the Asian females who went to the states. (Not my type in any way) Doesn’t look a wee bit Asian to me at all :X

        • Forlourned says:

          Damn! I just got it. Remember a PS2 game called Ratchet and Clank?

          Do you remember what that company did with the characters in EVER ad shown in JAPAN as well as inside the fliping Game?

          Youtube it buddies. Look at what a company did before they sold the game they lovingly created for the International scene!

        • Forlourned says:

          Pardon there Joe, do you know of the writer named Charles Dickens? Here’s a small passage out of wiki~ stating:

          “Another important impact of Dickens’s episodic writing style resulted from his exposure to the opinions of his readers. Since Dickens did not write the chapters very far ahead of their publication, he was allowed to witness the public reaction and alter the story depending on those public reactions.”

          As much as he wished to please himself when writing any story. He always keep an eye on the public who read his work. As timeless as many of his works where, when they where made he wanted money above all else. When you have TEN kids to care for, it’s pretty damn obvious.

          How about a guy name William Shakespeare? This is a bit shorter, but it comes about the same and is taken from the latter years of his life:

          “Some commentators have seen this change in mood as evidence of a more serene view of life on Shakespeare’s part, but it may merely reflect the theatrical fashion of the day.”

          Again, you play to the Audience. NOT to yourself!

        • a 3D game released to the whole world gaming market does not have to please some weirdos like jap otakus who knows nothing in this world but 2D moe and being unable to find the beauty or coolness in what is called wild and action game.

          tho i agree this game is less than satisfactory but it’s never because of its protagnist’s facial factor.

        • This isn’t art. It is a form of entertainment which is fueled by consumers. If the consumers don’t like it, then you failed at it. Simple as that. You have to design for the masses not force your design on them. It’s a basic interaction design principle.