A Take on Platform Exclusivity: The Case of Persona 5 and Atlus

Even if you aren’t a fan of the JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) genre of video games, it is highly likely that you have heard of the now increasingly popular PS4 game, Persona 5. One of the most wonderful 200-hour time sinks I could ever indulge in, the game focuses on our central protagonist (Joker) and his team of mask-wearing friends (…cat burglars?) in their quest to rid rotten adults of their evil ways. In true JRPG fashion there are many twists and turns on the way…just play it, alright!

Initially releasing in Europe and Northern America on April 4th 2017, Persona 5 had already surpassed 2.2 million units sold worldwide just over a year after its release. While this is smaller than the 5 million units sold of Kingdom Hearts 3, (one of the most popular JRPG series on the Western market), it is important to remember that Persona wasn’t a very well established series in Western countries before the release of Persona 5.

Persona 4 Golden, released originally on the PS Vita and the remaster of the PS2 classic Persona 4, only managed to sell 990,000 units worldwide – less than half the number Persona 5 achieved in a year. The series is certainly gaining traction, as evidenced by the release of Persona 5 Royal (my self-confessed favourite game of all time) on March 31st 2020, and the super exciting announcement of Persona 5 Scramble coming to the West!

However, it is notable that each of the mainstream Atlus games (the company behind Persona) was released on a PlayStation console. This has caused quite a lot of tension in the fan community. In particular, we can see this on the Atlus Twitter page, where almost every Tweet they make is now plagued with “port beggars” (my definition: people who want a game to be released on a different console because they do not have the console it was released on).

Honestly, I have mixed opinions about port begging. Part of me thinks that it’s selfish of the fans to demand a company caters to their console preferences just because they don’t own the correct console. But, games such as Persona 5 Royal are so fantastic that I don’t really blame them. Plus, I feel like it would be a strange kind of JRPG gate-keeping for the PS4 owners in the Persona community to insult and belittle people who want to play the games, but may not own or cannot afford a PS4, or feel more comfortable on a Switch. This point is particularly valid as we approach the end of the PS4’s time in the limelight, with the looming release of the PS5 making purchasing a PS4 now a less attractive option.

Well, it does look like after all this time Persona fans are getting the cross-platform access that they’ve been asking for. The recent release of Persona 4 Golden onto Steam was the first time ever PC players have had access to the Persona series which garnered a lot of excitement within the community, and Persona 5 Scramble seems to be getting a PS4 and Switch release in the West at some point in the future, exactly what fans have been wishing for. Catherine: Full Body, another game from Atlus, was recently released onto the Switch, alongside the newly announced Shin Megami Tensei 3 Remaster and SMT 5 Switch releases. This, coupled with Persona 5’s Joker featuring in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, suggests that Atlus have finally left the realm of platform exclusivity for their mainstream games after 34 years.

Switch releases of these games are likely to be good for Atlus games such as Persona. It will broaden the audience who can access the series and allow the fanbase to expand further. While PS4 owners may find it irritating that others are upset with being unable to access series like Persona, I feel that if game producers are able to release their games onto more consoles, they probably should. After all, the more love and attention a series gets, the more instalments of it we get, right?

Here’s to another 6 year wait for Persona 6 and an end to port begging. We should all be a little kinder to our fellow cross-platform gamers; after all, we just want to enjoy the show! Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping an eye on the release date for Scramble… Stay tuned Persona fans, we’ll never see it coming.