Anime has taken the west by storm, and there are various franchises that are hugely popular in television and game formats now. Pokémon is the best-known offering, and it’s also in the top five best-selling game franchises of all time.
Massive hits like Final Fantasy also draw inspiration from anime, and gamers are always hungry for more content in that long-running series. There are some titles that are massive in Japan that have failed to break through in the west, though.
One Piece is a prime example of a franchise that’s overwhelmingly popular in the east, but it’s barely known in mainstream western markets. Is there a good reason why One Piece has failed to take off in Europe and North America?
One Piece Is A Sprawling Franchise In Japan
There’s no doubt that One Piece is one of the most popular game franchises in Japan, and players in the country simply can’t get enough of it.
Indeed, the various developers that make the games have often had to rush the release of them due to such high demand from players. There have been 56 titles in the series to date, and that doesn’t include crossovers where the characters have appeared in other games. The titles published by Bandai Namco Entertainment have appeared on various platforms from the WonderSwan to PlayStation VR, and there are three main series entitled Grand Battle!, Unlimited, and Pirate Warriors.
For those seeking the definitive answer to the question, when did One Piece start? The truth is that, though it seems like One Piece has been around forever, in reality, it has only been in existence for just over 20 years.
According to Win.gg, the game franchise began in 2000, but the television series came first. It debuted in 1999 on Fuji Television and viewers were first introduced to the popular character, Monkey D. Luffy.
It was an instant hit, and the rest is history. It’s perhaps no surprise that there are plenty more offerings in the pipeline.
Fewer Games Released In The West
The interesting thing about the One Piece game franchise is the fact that it hasn’t been marketed in the same way in the west. There may have been 56 releases in Japan.
But North American and European players have had nowhere near as much content to get through. Indeed, only 13 of the titles have been available in Europe.
The reason for this is that western players generally prefer quality over quantity, whereas the opposite may be true in Japan. A lot of the releases for the Japanese market received negative reviews because they’d been rushed to the shelves.
The fact that there are fewer games to choose from in the west could be part of the reason why these titles haven’t been as famous.
One Piece Odyssey is set for release in 2022 and for players all over the world. It will be marking the start of the 25th anniversary of the franchise and will be followed up by several other special edition games.
The offering from ILCA will be available for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S, along with Windows. It could mark the beginning of a greater interest in these games in the west.
With the anime craze gathering pace in the west and becoming more mainstream with anime-style spin-offs of popular shows like The Witcher, there could be a market there for other Japanese favorites to break out.
One Piece is certainly a game that is well poised to do so, as there is already plenty of content in the franchise. Now that the series has broken out onto Netflix, it could be the perfect time for the games to capitalize.