Following a recent series of events, the hashtag #BreakFreePersona is trending on Twitter, with fans asking for Atlus to port the Persona games over to the Nintendo Switch. The movement has over 23,000 tweets so far.
While the series has largely been PlayStation-exclusive since its inception, there’s long been a demand for Persona games on Nintendo platforms. This goes all the way back to the days following Persona 3 and Persona 4, which were originally released for PlayStation 2 and then updated for the PSP and PlayStation Vita. After the release of Persona 4: Golden on the Vita, Atlus began hearing from Nintendo 3DS owners that they wanted a Persona game on the device. This resulted in the development of Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth—a Persona game that played like Etrian Odyssey and was developed in collaboration by their respective development teams.
At the time, series director Katsura Hashino stated: “While we were making Etrian Odyssey games and many other Atlus games for the 3DS, [we were reminded about] all the voices from fans who’ve been wanting to see a new game from the Persona series for the 3DS, and we felt the need to respond to that, and that’s how the plans of a collaboration within Atlus came to be.”
Persona Q sold well enough that it was followed up by a sequel in 2018, Persona Q2, this time focusing on characters from Persona 5. By this point, the Nintendo Switch had been on the market for over a year, and there was no sign of Persona 5 itself—released in 2016 for the PS3 and PS4—being ported to the device. To JRPG enthusiasts, it made very little sense. Role-playing games have always had a sizeable audience on portable platforms, and the Switch had already proven itself a JRPG-seller, with even niche games like Disgaea performing well. There was no reason Persona shouldn’t be able to do the same, especially considering that Shin Megami Tensei V—another RPG by Atlus—was a Nintendo Switch game.
Things got even more heated when Nintendo revealed Persona 5’s protagonist, Joker, as the first paid DLC character for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and the news was followed by another spin-off game, Persona 5 Scramble, being announced for the Switch—but not Persona 5 Royal, an updated version of Persona 5 reserved for the PS4.
One theory that’s existed for a while is that Persona has some sort of exclusivity arrangement with PlayStation through Aniplex, an animation studio owned by Sony. Aniplex is behind the production and promotion of a number of Persona-related anime shows and movies, and given the merchandising monster the brand now is, it makes sense for Sony to want to keep Persona close and for Atlus to play ball with a partner that has clearly been working out well. However, Atlus has also been asking its fans in annual surveys for the past couple of years if they would like to play Persona games on the Switch, and given that Persona 5 Scramble is coming to the platform, there’s clearly some wiggle room there, exclusivity arrangement or not.
All of this buildup and confused messaging culminated in fans becoming much more vocal when Atlus began its 2019 survey. This year, the company included a question that specifically asked if fans would like to see more of its games playable on the Nintendo Switch, and allowed one to select multiple options, including nearly every recent Persona and Shin Megami Tensei game. The survey saw a record number of responses and ended two days sooner that it was meant to. Then, when Atlus West’s communications manager Ari Advincula told IGN that that it was important for the audience to “keep telling Atlus what they want,” fans did just that and got the #BreakFreePersona movement trending on Twitter.
Persona on Nintendo switch huh? I would welcome that with open arms! Why stop at Persona 5? Bring more of the Persona games over. More people need to experience these games (Persona 4 Golden especially).#BreakFreePersona pic.twitter.com/xoUsOwHCXZ
— 📺 Yu X Smash DLC 📺 Persona 4: Smashing All Night (@YuXSmash) February 17, 2020
While #BreakFreePersona largely began with a desire to see Persona 5 Royal released on the Switch, the movement has quickly grown into fans asking Atlus to port Persona 3 and Persona 4 to the platform as well, with some even asking for Switch versions of Persona 1 and Persona 2. Meanwhile, others are requesting Persona ports for the PC and Xbox.
Interestingly, Catherine: Full Body was recently rated for the Nintendo Switch, so it appears Atlus is already in the process of bringing some of its games over to the platform. Whether that includes any more Persona games remains to be seen, but it would make sense given that Persona 5 Royal was listed by Sega as possibly having underperformed in its domestic market of Japan. It would probably be smart for Atlus to have that game in particular made available on a different platform to a wider audience that hasn’t already played Persona 5.