Over at NeoGaf, we had confusion on the Persona 4 joysticks that were shown at CES(?) recently.
Thing is, both VF5 and Persona 4 have much smaller fan bases outside of Asia so that’s why I believe the licenses weren’t pursued.
I think it was brave of Hori to release its VF5 HRAP V3 variant in the US but I can’t help but wonder how well the stick will sell and whether collectors/players are pursuing it for the sake of the game OR the Astro-type button layout as previous HRAP V3/VX’s were based on the more typical (for the present) Viewlix button layout. (I know I’m not getting that joystick one way or the other… Currently broke and I really had no interest to begin with in a VF variant stick…)
The Virtua Fighter series has never had a huge impact in the West other than driving Sega’s competitors to create flashier-looking, easier to master (and my IMHO, control better) fighting games that are also polygonal. That said, even Tekken has (probably) seen its popularity slide a bit in recent years in the West. Soul Calibur seems to have dipped quite a bit in popularity since the second game in that series. The impression I get is that Namco doesn’t seem to have as good a handle on the non-Tekken fighters and is finding it more difficult to establish a tract/game style/direction that’s popular with more people… the character revamps and storyline changes and additions/deletions of alternate gameplay/quest games in SC just don’t seem to take that well after SCII…
The other 2-D fighting game series (Persona, Guilty Gear, BlazBlu) just aren’t near as popular as the Capcom series and even the Capcom games peaked popularity-wise in the mid-1990s. SNK made a mild impression outside of Asia with the early Fatal Fury and Samurai Shodown games but let’s face it, KOF was their big bread-and-butter series and that particular series has had limited success outside of Asia. Recent KOF games just haven’t sold very well outside Asia from what I gather (and see for my own eyes). Difference today is that I think the tournament circuit is better-organized for fighting games internationally and probably better-sponsored than it ever was before… especially in the US which had very few tourneys outside of the Western American coast prior to the mid-2000’s. At least that’s the impression I get (haven’t been to a tourney, but I do follow this stuff at a distance). I think the tourneys will go on and continue to survive the intervals between crests and dips in the popularity of the fighting games with the much better corporate and web support today… web support, in particular, being driven by the hardcore fan elements of fighting games and stick customizers in general… Hopefully, it WON’T be another 10 years before we see sequels to any or all of the major fighting game brands that will, of course, ultimately depend on console game port sales. It would be nice to see more player support for the non-Sega/non-Capcom/non-Namco fighting brands, however, and more support for 2-D traditional art and retro fighters in general… I honestly believe the evolution of fighters and game styles will be more dependent on indie games and only helped by the Skullgirls and Arc System-type games. Indie game could also help for the inevitable burnout that will happen periodically with the major fighting game brands and keep more player interest.
Back to the main point…
I always kind of wonder whether the more generic or character art-based joysticks sell better… For my part, I rarely keep the original art on even half these joysticks and frankly prefer to decorate the faceplates with characters known outside of fighting games, too… In at least Japan, the HRAP anime-variants must do well enough for Hori to keep pursuing licenses to the fighting games based on the likes of FATE/Stay Night, the moe-inspired (“innocent girl/girls in peril”) games, and occasional indie game (popular for the moment). I can definitely understand why some collectors are reluctant to change the artwork on some of the more esoteric/obscure (outside of Japan) character-inspired joysticks, for sure.
(Begs the question of WHY there hasn’t been a Dragonball-based joystick, too… That’s by far the biggest fighting-type/adventure anime worldwide.)