Now, if a game can generate frenzy like this, years after release, there's something to be said for the foreign market. And the game companies are taking note of what is imported. Ikaruga (descended from Treasure's Silhouette Mirage and Radiant Silvergun), Guilty Gear X, and Project Justice, just to name few, were some of my prized imports on Dreamcast. And look at how the industry responded. Guilty Gear X was localized on PS2 with several follow-ups and port versions; Ikaruga was re-released on the U.S. Gamecube; and several Dreamcast and Saturn fighters have made their way to mainstream consoles in the United States.
Sometimes though, it seemed companies were afraid to go the extra mile in an unknown market. Some games, like Project Justice and Dead or Alive II, were both released here in the U.S. with features cut out. Project Justice, and even previous U.S. incarnations of the Rival Schools series from which it hails, lack the custom character creation feature popular with the original versions. If you had a choice between the U.S. version and the import version for the same price, wouldn't the choice be obvious? Perhaps this timidity on the part of publishers is the result of skepticism about the openness of the U.S. market to non-traditional game elements and styles. However, the popularity of importing makes it clear that hardcore gamers know a good game, no matter what language it's in.
As the big guys in the suits start to realize that the market for these sorts of games does exist outside of their normal release zones, I feel that companies will continue to take chances with less mainstream games and genres. With sequels of popular imports produced for the U.S., we're on the right track now to see a larger variety of games hit our shores than ever before. Importing spurs game companies to develop innovative games with new ideas and, further, encourages them to take more chances with new markets. For this evolution of the video game market, I think we should thank anyone who has ever bought an imported game.
Hugh Duffel is a student studying for a career in medicine at the University of Georgia with a minor in foreign language. When he isn't studying he enjoys playing MMORPGs, shooters, and assorted console games.