Role-playing games are having a big year in terms of sales, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. A number of RPGs have launched in 2017 both from Japan as well as the West, and many of those have found success. Compared to same time in 2016, this year’s crop of RPGs have attracted a much larger audience.
“Role-playing games are experiencing a market resurgence,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “Driven by titles such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Nier: Automata, Nioh, and Persona 5, year-to-date dollar sales of RPGs has grown more than 50 percent when compared to the same period a year ago.”
At this point in 2016, publishers had launched Dark Souls III and not much else. Later in the year, Square Enix rolled out Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Final Fantasy XV, but 2017 has had far more important RPGs through its first seven months.
This rejuvenation of the RPG comes alongside a Japanese gaming industry that has found its stride in the modern era. While Horizon: Zero Dawn and Mass Effect: Andromeda come from Western studios, the rest of the list represents some of the biggest games out of Japanese publishers like Sega and Square Enix.
But this resurgence should not imply that RPGs were ever close to dying off. Instead, the industry is simply coming off of a trend of implementing RPG-like mechanics into every other genre. For example, shooters now have level progression systems and EA Sports games like Madden NFL and FIFA have story campaigns. Since around 2007, every game is an RPG.
In 2017, though, publishers are learning that people still want the real deal. And gamers are rewarding the companies that dish out those full-fledged RPG products.