As A Reminder to People Following Operation Rainfall

This is going to be a short post utilizing mostly comments.

Do you remember this piece of news?

If you’re waiting for Atlus and Team Persona’s bizarre erotic horror-arcade puzzler Catherine to be localised, you may have to wait a little longer: Atlus’ US PR has told BeefJack, very apologetically, there are currently no plans for a North American release.

“Catherine is a Japan-only game and there are no plans for a NA release at this time. Sorry about that!” reads the statement.

That was on 2/24/2011 this year.

On 3/1/2011, Atlus had to backpedal and make their announcement. Now, I know a lot of people are likely to jump to conclusions and say ‘this is a result of fan backlash, though!’

…no. No, it wasn’t. The kind of legal wrangling to bring something over to NA can take weeks, or even months. Atlus was already in the process of bringing it here. I just think they were forced to play their hand early and announce it sooner than they intended because of that reaction.

Michael Cunningham, with RPGamer had a great editorial on the subject of the PR meaning behind the infamous ‘no plans for’ statement that you hear a lot from marketing and public relations teams all over the United States.

The first response most people are giving is that Atlus lied. I’m not going to say they didn’t, because that’s exactly what it is. It is also the same PR lie we hear in the industry daily. So why did they reply with the comment? Until a publisher is ready to announce a game on their own terms, they don’t confirm anything. So when asked about a game in this situation, most will reply like Atlus did and say they have “no plans at this time” or offer a “no comment.” PR replies that state a company has “no plans” are often taken to mean a game is not coming, while those “no comment” statements are even taken to mean a game is coming, but the publisher just cannot talk about it. Here’s a quick lesson to anyone who doesn’t know. Anytime a company states that it “has no plans at this time,” they are not really telling you anything. Whether they have plans or not, this allows them to swing either way and be safe. I’m not going to defend Atlus’s comment, but it is something we see all the time. I wouldn’t doubt the company taking a policy where the PR team will no longer reply to any questions like this ever again.

Now, why is this important? Because look at Nintendo’s official statement to Operation Rainfall:

Thank you for your enthusiasm. We promised an update, so here it is. We never say “never,” but we can confirm that there are no plans to bring these three games to the Americas at this time. Thanks so much for your passion, and for being such great fans!

From one person who works close to a corporate level marketing team to a bunch of fans… take this to heart. This is exactly what Michael was saying above on such a topic. I think someone close to Nintendo, or Nintendo themselves, will release one of these games sooner or later. Why?

Because of this.

Nintendo filed to trademark The Last Story on 1/13/2011. The Federal Trademark Registration changed this over to “Notice of Allowance Issued” today. 7/15/2011.

It took the US government seven months to grant Nintendo the rights to use the trademark they registered. And it’s very un-kosher to make an announcement before you have the rights to use the name. (EDIT: I mis-read the date when skimming the page and failed to notice it was 2010… but see my comment on such below.)

Like I said above:

The kind of legal wrangling to bring something over to NA can take weeks, or even months.

2 thoughts on “As A Reminder to People Following Operation Rainfall”

  1. You are incorrect regarding the trademark issue.

    First, follow this link: http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=77910766

    Second, the mark was filed in Jan, 2010. Nintendo actually let actually suspended their own filing for 6 months. Then they continued in April, but nothing has happened since then on Nintendo’s end.

    The USPTO sent a “notice for publication.” This is an automatic procedure. Others have 30 days to dispute Nintendo’s claim of the mark. Nintendo gets to sit back and do nothing.

    The 30 day period passed, and now we’re at the “Notice of Allowance.” All this means is that Nintendo is permitted to use the mark in commerce, BUT ALSO that it does not have a trademark until it actually uses the mark in commerce.

    Right now Nintendo does not have a registered trademark for The Last Story.

    If Nintendo does not use their mark in 6 months, they can file for another 6 month extension. They can file up to 5 extensions. We could be sitting and waiting for filings until the middle of 2014.

    Right now the mark is in limbo. Just like the Monado mark is for Xenoblade. Lots of people are jumping the gun reporting an automatic filing by the USPTO as confirmation that Nintendo has a trademark. They do not. The USPTO will finalize their registration and grant them one if they choose to use it. That is a HUGE difference, because Nintendo is never required to use it and can let it lapse.

    1. I do see that I misread the comment, and that much I agree on.

      However, the status of what I’m seeing is still the same. The US has authorized them use of the trademark since filing. This is a matter that can take awhile for a variety of reasons, but I can also say, with certainty, that the legal aspects of localization do not just take a few days like people seem to think happened with Atlus regarding Catherine. I do have contacts in the industry that have told me about the lengths of time it takes for this sort of work to be completed, and I have followed through with things on the back end before announcements were made.

      It’s still very bad form to make an announcement when you’re still in the legal limbo, because it’s still not in your possession. And especially in the case of The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower,- as these weren’t developed by Nintendo, there’s also a very strong chance that someone not Nintendo is sitting on it. There are a handful of publishers that specialize in localization of games that publish for the Wii. The two I think of off the top of my head are Atlus and XSEED Games, but there are definitely more that I’m not thinking about and don’t feel like researching into.

      I still believe that my point stands, concerning the issue as a whole. Operation Rainfall may have brought awareness of what’s going on, but there’s a very good chance that- if we see any of these games come to North America- that their releases were not caused by the operation in the first place.

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