The Little Battlers Is The Latest Victim Of Waning Popularity In Japan

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The latest game in Level 5’s popular Little Battler franchise was released last week in Japan. The Little Battlers Wars was released on the Nintendo 3DS and sold 50,127 copies in its first week.


Additionally, Japanese sales tracker Media Create reports that The Little Battlers Wars sold through 60.31% of its initial shipment during launch week, which means that there were an abundance of copies available for people to buy, so the low sales weren’t due to shortages.


50,000 doesn’t seem like a very impressive figure for an established franchise, but this trend has been plaguing the Little Battlers series for a while now. The original Little Battlers game released for PSP in 2010 sold 166,000 copies in its first week. By the time Level 5 got around to releasing a full-fledged sequel, The Little Battlers W, sales had dropped to less than 100,000 copies sold in its first week.


In fact, this trend isn’t restricted just to The Little Battlers. Level 5’s other established franchises have steadily been dropping in early sales, too. Professor Layton is one example of this trend, while Inazuma Eleven is another. In both cases, launch sales of the newer games were nowhere near those of the franchises’ peak years.


That said, while their existing franchises are waning in popularity, Level 5 are in the process of establishing an entirely new set of franchises, and these are off to a promising start. We’ve already discussed the success of Fantasy Life, and last we checked, Youkai Watch has been doing well for itself, too, with sales having crossed 200,000 since launch. Both series have the potential to grow in the future, and one hopes that they will.


Meanwhile, another major new brand for the company is WonderFlick, a free-to-play RPG for PlayStation 3, Wii U, Xbox 360, smartphones and PlayStation Vita. Smartphone versions of the game will launch this month, with console versions scheduled for next year. Level 5 say you’ll be able to transfer save data between platforms, too. WonderFlick, too, looks like it has immense future potential to be a moneymaker.


At the same time, however, Level 5 aren’t planning on abandoning their core franchises any time soon. While the last Professor Layton game was described as being Professor Layton’s final adventure, the Layton brand itself will continue in a different form, with the next game being a “role-play puzzle” title for 3DS and smartphones. Just how this game will differ from past Layton titles in both scope and target audience should be interesting to see.

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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.