Have you ever taken a look at something like a T-rex, a dragon, or even a creature the size of Godzilla and said to yourself, “I could take that thing on, no problem”? If you said no, you should take a look at one of Capcom’s more popular franchises known as Monster Hunter, which is currently seeing more and more fans growing by the day. Have you not heard of it? If not, that’s understandable. Only recently has the game been given attention to the Americas and Europe by Capcom. However, it is actually one of the top selling titles in Japan according to Destructoid. So why is Monster Hunter not as popular elsewhere? Well through fan recommendation and marketing, it is slowly getting the recognition it deserves.
Most of what becomes popular in the gaming culture nowadays gets there by the marketing from big name companies or in some cases, a recommendation by a friend. Fans outside of Japan were the main sellers of the title and it took awhile for the game to catch up to bigger named players. One instance of this I’ve had was when I would watch a gaming livestreamer, known as Professor Broman, play the title and every five minutes or so, someone in the chat of about one thousand viewers would wonder what the game was called so they could play it themselves. It is through this word-of-mouth passage that brought the title from a crawl to a walk in the past year or so amongst gamers. It has since gone from a dusty game on the shelves, to one of the most anticipated Nintendo titles in 2015.
Wikipedia’s article on the Two-Step or Multistep Flow Model reads,
…media effects are indirectly established through the personal influence of opinion leaders. The majority of people receive much of their information and are influenced by the media secondhand, through the personal influence of opinion leaders.
Fans of the franchise have been since making costumes to show off at conventions, comedic animation videos on YouTube, fanart paintings and drawings, and even reviews by some of the top internet figures in gaming and internet culture such as ProJared and Hot Pepper Gaming ft. Egoraptor. As more people see and share, it becomes viral and sets off a chain reaction of interest. Nintendo and Capcom recognized this influx of consumers and are finally bringing the next title in the series over here in North America and Europe. Monster Hunter 4 has been released in Japan since 2013 and after 2 quiet years, through social media and its recent explosion in the number of users, we finally get to continue the hype. All thanks to the figures who lead the way in gaming.
Monster Hunter has remained an exclusive and experimental title in North America and Europe by Capcom as they weren’t selling as many as they had hoped. Had it not been for popular YouTubers, Twitch streamers, and gamers alike, we probably wouldn’t be seeing the next title coming this month. Not only are we getting the game, but Capcom feels that it is doing well enough to receive a special edition version of the New Nintendo 3DSXL–the console it is being released on. This is pretty phenomenal because only the highest selling and popular titles in gaming get their own console version. To know it has gotten to this point makes a huge statement in the world of pop culture. In fact, I’d say it helps define it.
When it comes down to Monster Hunter in pop culture, it really shows how people affect the media and marketing. Social media and artistic outlets spurred the game up from almost fading out into bargain bins. But what makes the game so appealing in a playerbase where action and military shooters pull the reigns? Is it because it’s something different? Is it because people want to slay gigantic beasts? Perhaps it’s not all that intricate and it is only becoming popular because people are finally seeing the name. Whatever it may be, there’s no dispute that it is working and is slowly becoming a popular franchise in a culture where it otherwise wouldn’t. Maybe this will lead the way for more innovative and fantastic Japanese titles to come here in North America and Europe. Because I mean, would you rather shoot the same soldiers for twenty minutes in modern military shooters? Or would you team up with friends to strategically take down leviathans each with their own behaviors? I think the choice would be pretty obvious.