Has Fire Emblem become one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises?

Last week Nintendo presented their latest Nintendo Direct, which featured their upcoming plans for the Fire Emblem series. A lot of people were expecting more information on the recently announced Fire Emblem Warriors, another Dynasty Warriors type spin-off following the success of Hyrule Warriors released on the Wii U and 3DS. People also expected to hear more about the very first Fire Emblem mobile game that had been announced last year. Nintendo showed off both games, but also had a couple more surprises for the fans.

They also announced another “new” Fire Emblem game coming out in May of this year; titled Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. The game is actually a full remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden. Gaiden was the second Fire Emblem game in the series only released in Japan back in 1992. The game deviates some from standard Fire Emblem games by including dungeons and a world map to explore.

Lastly, while not showing anything off at this time, Nintendo announced that a brand new traditional Fire Emblem game would be coming to Switch in 2018. There were rumors going around that an enhanced version of Fire Emblem Fates would be getting ported over to the Nintendo Switch. But it appears that Nintendo and Intelligent Systems are creating a brand new game in the franchise instead.

You can watch the full Nintendo Direct here:

After watching the Direct it got me thinking. Has Fire Emblem suddenly become one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises? It’s almost hard to believe considering Nintendo didn’t even release a Fire Emblem game outside of Japan until 2003. Even more so, because up until Fire Emblem Awakening was released on the 3DS in 2013 (USA), the series had been reserved to a very small niche audience.

When people think of Nintendo’s top franchises they think of Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon, and then to a lesser extent Donkey Kong, Metroid, Kirby, Star Fox, Animal Crossing, etc.

Looking at sales data*, Mario and all his variations (Kart, Party, Sports) is king at over 528 million copies sold. Pokémon is next at roughly 280 million. The Legend of Zelda is just under 80 million and Donkey Kong is just over 56 million. Other well-known franchises like Metroid and Star Fox are at the bottom of Nintendo’s Top 15 franchises. Fire Emblem is not on that list.

But looking at the amount of Fire Emblem games that have either been released or are in development since 2013, the series could go head-to-head with any of Nintendo’s biggest franchises.

  • 2013: Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS)
  • 2016: Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, Conquest, and Revelations (3 games on 3DS). Tokyo Mirage Sessions (Wii U)
  • 2017: Fire Emblem Heroes (Mobile), Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (3DS), and Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch)
  • 2018: Upcoming Fire Emblem Switch title

If you count all three variations of Fates which each have their own unique campaigns, there will be nine Fire Emblem titles released between 2013 and 2018.

Let’s compare that to some of Nintendo’s other big franchises;

Mario has 12 titles spanning all genres (platformer, Kart, RPG, Party, etc.). Pokémon has ten titles during that time. And yet Zelda has only four (seven if you count the enhanced ports). Donkey Kong has only had one major title in that time, 2014’s Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, and a few Mario versus Donkey Kong spin-off titles. Kirby has had three games in the same time frame. Sadly, Metroid hasn’t had a main series release since Other M in 2010 and only the one spin-off, 2016’s Federation Force.

So, Fire Emblem may not be a household Nintendo name to most. But no other franchise has been given more attention by Nintendo outside of Mario and Pokémon in the past five years. Even in Nintendo’s popular Smash Bros franchise, Fire Emblem is represented by six playable characters (tied with Pokémon) for the second most of any Nintendo franchise. The only Nintendo franchise that has more is Mario.

Nintendo hit it big with Fire Emblem Awakening. Awakening became the first Fire Emblem game to sell over one million copies worldwide. In fact, it has sold just over two million copies to date.

And it’s a good thing it did. In an interview with Nintendo producer Hitoshi Yamagami, he mentioned that Fire Emblem Awakening was going to be the final game of the series, not unlike Hironobu Sakaguchi’s story of releasing the very first (and presumed last) Final Fantasy on the NES.

“To be honest, when we made Awakening, we intended it to be the last in the series. Hatano-san, who was working as the head of the sales department, had told me ‘The Emblem series isn’t making the numbers, so this is going to be the last one.’ And the development team said, ‘This is going to be the last one, so let’s put in everything we want so we don’t have any regrets.’”

After Awakening’s sales exploded, Nintendo wanted Intelligent Systems to start working on the next game immediately. This allowed them to create their most ambitious game in the series yet, creating the three separate campaigns for Fire Emblem Fates.

Fates has gone on to sell nearly as many copies as Awakening, last reported to be hovering around 1.75 million copies. With the recent success of the Fire Emblem franchise, you can see why Nintendo is backing the series as much as they are.

A franchise that just a few years ago was about to be discontinued has now become one of Nintendo’s most invested franchises moving forward.

*Game Sales Data provided by:
http://www.vgchartz.com/gamedb/?name=Fire+Emblem
http://vgsales.wikia.com/wiki/Best_selling_Nintendo_games

Originally published at SmarksOn.