Current logo for Operation Rainfall
|Motto||no game left behind|
|Formation||June 23, 2011|
|Purpose||To convince Nintendo of America to release three Wii titles—Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower—in North America|
Operation Rainfall (shortened as oprainfall) was originally a fan campaign initially formed to persuade Nintendo of America (NOA) to localize three role-playing video games for the Wii console: Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and Pandora's Tower. The campaign launched on June 23, 2011; and in January 2013, Xseed Games announced Pandora's Tower, the final game released in North America on April 16, 2013.
As the campaign evolved over time, Operation Rainfall transformed into a community and the name of a video game news blog specialized in Japanese video games that are rendered niche in the Western market, as well as a hub for localization campaigns for other Japanese games.
Operation Rainfall formed from the focus on three Wii-exclusive titles: Xenoblade Chronicles developed by Monolith Soft (makers of Xenogears and the Xenosaga series), The Last Story developed by Mistwalker and AQ Interactive, and Pandora's Tower developed by Ganbarion. All three titles were published by Nintendo in Japan, Europe, and Australia between late 2010 and early 2012.
On June 23, 2011, Mathieu Minel, the marketing manager of Nintendo France, stated that Nintendo of Europe wanted to show Xenoblade Chronicles at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo, but that "Nintendo of America wouldn't let them because they didn't want to show products they aren't planning to sell." Minel's departure from Nintendo was announced 11 days later. In response, fans of role-playing video games on the IGN message boards started a campaign the next day, dubbed "Operation Rainfall", in the hopes of persuading Nintendo of America to localize Xenoblade Chronicles, along with The Last Story and Pandora's Tower, as none of these three games had appeared at the Expo or possessed any sort of North American release. The main organizers of the campaign did not exclude supporting other titles for North American localizations, but focused on the three games.
The campaign was subdivided into three distinct campaigns, one for each game, all with their own periods. This part included sending as many physical letters and e-mails as well as giving as many phone calls to Nintendo of America's headquarters as possible, in addition to posting messages on the branch's Facebook and Twitter accounts, requesting for a North American release of the games. It also involved pre-ordering Xenoblade Chronicles on the retail website Amazon.com, which had a placeholder entry for the game under its development name Monado: Beginning of the World, in order to show Nintendo the commercial appeal of the game's release. On June 25, 2011, the game reached #1 in Amazon.com's Top 100 game sales, #1 in all Wii game sales and #1 in Wii action game sales.
|“||As this all stands now, Operation Rainfall is already one of the most interesting and unique fan-fueled release campaigns ever put together. There have been groups of diehard supporters for particular Nintendo titles or series sequels in the past who have organized similar efforts, hoping to catch NOA's attention. They've rarely met with success. This one, though, has that one key thing that none of the rest of them ever did – cold hard cash.||”|
—Lucas M. Thomas, IGN
Operation Rainfall has been covered by Kotaku, IGN, Eurogamer, Joystiq, Game Informer, Destructoid, and the Japanese gaming site Inside. In addition, video game designer Soraya Saga, who is married to Xenoblade Chronicles creator Tetsuya Takahashi, and Mistwalker responded favorably to the campaign. In March 2015, Watchmojo listed the campaign as #5 on their "Top 10 Fan Campaigns That Worked".
Nintendo of America themselves took notice of the project, stating, "Hey fans, we appreciate your enthusiasm. Look for more updates to come soon." On June 29, 2011, Nintendo of America stated on their Facebook page that "there are no plans to bring these three games to the Americas at this time." Despite this, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime commented on the European launch of Xenoblade, "We will be watching very closely what happens in Europe...Certainly if there are business opportunities and positive consumer uptake from some of those titles, that will be great data for us to consider as we look at what to do with these titles."
While Operation Rainfall has been credited to bring games to North America, journalists still question Nintendo's original intent to not release the games. Game journalist Patrick Holloway wrote, "This is why people are so reluctant to work with Nintendo. It’s not a demographic issue or the fact Nintendo is the biggest competitor on a Nintendo system, it’s because you don’t know what you’re getting with your game." Holloway later went on to state: "[Nintendo] Don’t feel proud for “Finally bringing it” or “Making it work.” You basically did what you should have done, way later than you should have," and called Xenoblade Chronicles' release in particular, the "Easiest. Decision. Ever."
North American releases
On December 2, 2011, Nintendo revealed on its Facebook page that it would be publishing Xenoblade Chronicles in North America on April 6, 2012. The game was only sold on Nintendo's online store and at retailer GameStop. Officially-licensed Nintendo distributor Active Boeki dubiously imported a limited number of copies of the North American version of Xenoblade Chronicles for retailers in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. On February 22, 2012, The Last Story was confirmed to be scheduled for release in North America on August 14, 2012 by third party publisher Xseed Games. Finally, on January 16, 2013 Pandora's Tower's North American release was announced by Xseed.
While their North American localizations were packaged and supported for NTSC Wii consoles, all three games were released identically to their European localizations without any noticeable in-game changes whatsoever.
The concept of Operation Rainfall has led to also successful Operation Moonfall, which supported The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask being re-made on the Nintendo 3DS. Several other spinoff organizations have followed the same concept, some of which have joined the umbrella of Operation Rainfall's campaign hub.
Speaking on Operation Rainfall and Operation Moonfall, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said "We certainly look at it, and we're certainly aware of it, but it doesn't necessarily affect what we do", and that Nintendo was already in the process of deciding Xenoblade 's localization "while Operation Rainfall was happening". He also added that "100,000 signatures doesn't mean 100,000 sales". The game was remade for the 3DS and released on February 14, 2015
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