Nier: Automata saved the Nier franchise from obscurity, introduced the greater gaming community to Yoko Taro, and bailed Platinum Games out of a tight spot. Some say this is due to Yoko Taro’s storytelling, which is on a different level than we’re used to in video games, while others say it was Platinum’s amazingly implemented gameplay and Teflon slick UI that turned an obscure niche title into a million plus seller. However, Taro’s stories never saved any of his previous games from obscurity, and Platinum’s masterful game design had yet to deliver them a mega-hit, so I must attribute this newfound success to Yoko Taro’s genius move to focus on creating a virally appealing character.
2B’s well crafted ass single-handedly set the gaming portion of the internet ablaze. Articles written about Taro’s love of women and sexy thighs resonated with the internet, home to all things sexual. When there was a miniature scandal caused by a photoshopped image, that placed a butthole beneath 2B’s leotard (NSFW), Taro pounced on the opportunity, winning favor by embracing the internet and telling fans to collect all the lewd images into zip files to make them easier to collect.
For months, the 2B fandom flooded my social media with lewd images and constant reminders that 2B and Nier: Automata were coming. All the attention paid to 2B’s ass gave Nier: Automata a level of visibility it never would have achieved without fans spreading those cheeks. As it turns out, that visibility was all Yoko Taro and Platinum Games needed to create a hit.
Igniting a fandom’s passions can go a long way towards creating a successful game, and it’s something large companies are realizing as well. That’s why we have the Sonic the Hedgehog twitter account, and custom characters in Sonic Forces, which I now believe will become the best selling 3D Sonic game, regardless of quality.
Did you think those butts were just coincidentally thicc? Nintendo’s learning too.
Putting aside all kidding about amazing butts, for now, Nintendo got the memo with Splatoon’s wild success. Highly active fandoms that produce copious amounts of fan art can proselytize a lot of people, through exposure and infectious hype. Splatoon, Undertale, Overwatch, and Nier: Automata all had highly active fan art communities, and all became successful beyond expectations. There’s a correlation between fan art activity and new IP success, and yes, I’m counting Nier: Automata as a functionally new IP. Now, the characters of ARMS have similarly captured the hearts of fans, as seen by how hard and fast the game’s fan art came.
The development team facilitated this by capturing the essence of characters through the simple, clean art style and beautiful animation in ARMS. Each fighter is instantly recognizable at a glance, there’s just enough detail to keep them from being bland, but not so much detail that they become Tetsuya Nomura-esque train wrecks. ARMS fighters have been designed to stand the test of time, like the Street Fighter II roster.
Like it or not though, a huge part of fan art today is sexual in nature. From a biological standpoint, “Rule 34” dominates fan art because life’s most basic goal is sex. That’s why fan art mostly revolves around female, effeminate, or anthropomorphic characters. If a developer really wants to hook fans, they need a sexy piece of bait, and if they want to keep fans, that bait has to lead to a good product. This is something core Nintendo has taken to heart.
Be it the androgynous Adonis that Link has become, Zelda’s and Twintelle’s unusually prominent asses, or even Minmin’s Chun-li-lite thighs, Nintendo has driven sex appeal to levels higher than usual, without pushing directly into overt sexualization, like we’ve seen with Intelligent Systems’ Fire Emblem Fates character, Camilla. Which is a good thing, because trying too hard with the sex appeal can have the opposite effect, as illustrated by the response to Randy Pitchford’s attempt at drumming up support for Battleborn through porn,