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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Nintendo “News” Outlets Proclaim Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a 3-Million Seller Because Random ResetEra Guy Said So

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Sad display of “journalism” on their part.

While KoopaTV was going off official information straight from Nintendo in our September 30, 2020 Nintendo Quarterly Financial Update article at the start of this month, other media outlets were choosing other, unofficial sources of information.

For background, you need to know that Fire Emblem: Three Houses for Nintendo Switch officially has sold 2.87 million copies as of March 31, 2020. Nintendo hasn't updated that number for half a year, and they tend not to update game sales numbers unless a game has sold another million copies in a given quarter/two quarters, or if they're a top ten system seller, in which case those sales numbers get updated every quarter. That basically means we'll know how much a given first-party game will sell in its debut (if it's over a million copies sold), but we probably won't get information for many quarters afterwards unless many, many consumers decide to buy it over Christmas or something.

Anyway, in the absence of official sources but still wanting to write some kind of story, other media outlets were citing this random guy (named DarkDetective Nathan) on gaming forum ResetEra who has no sources or anything backing up his post. His Twitter account doesn't provide any credentials—he just really likes posting about videogame industry sales data. Note to journalists: Just because a guy's dedicated gimmick is talking about gaming sales, still doesn't mean that, by basic journalism standards, you take that guy's word as the truth without verifying it for yourself. However, without verifying it, this guy on this forum just dumped numbers and the gaming media went with it.

I should note that it's incredibly likely, just on a mathematical basis, that Fire Emblem: Three Houses has sold over three million copies by now. I'm not disputing that. (It would be incredible for the game NOT to have cleared that milestone, though I guess it's possible.) I'm just upset with the bad journalism used to reach that conclusion. Here's an incomplete list of outlets that took it as their only source and wrote a whole article about it, with me deconstructing their articles afterwards:

Some “interesting” practices here. Some of the sources acknowledge that the numbers aren't coming from Nintendo's financial disclosures, but then uncritically accept whatever the ResetEra guy says as fact anyway. Then you have outlets like The Outerhaven that claim this is OFFICIAL, despite that website supposedly having an ethics policy that not only describes themselves as news journalists, but claims that they will do their best to verify factual content before publishing it. That is not apparent from their article.

NintendoSoup amusingly claims that it's Nintendo that released new data, and then as sources they link to the ResetEra thread twice and the GoNintendo article (the GoNintendo article itself is just the ResetEra post) as their third source, to make it seem like they really did their research for the article. The GoNintendo article, for its part, erroneously states that Fire Emblem Awakening has sold 2.94 million copies. (That's APPARENTLY for Fire Emblem Fates when you combine all of the numbers together, BUT the source for that is the very same ResetEra thread, so you shouldn't trust that, either, like this Reddit guy didn't.)

That should also tell you how the “journalism” from these news sites actually happens. Do you think all of them were reading that same source ResetEra thread and they independently all decided to make a story of that? No, they go and read other Nintendo news sites, and then just slightly rewrite what the other site said and publish it on their own site. Slap some ads on it, and there you go, a laziness-driven business model. Unless a site is big enough or brave enough to do some real investigative journalism and get some exclusive stories (and nothing is exclusive when one of the other hundreds of competing sites takes your story and regurgitates it)—and that may require being big enough to get special (or any) attention from gaming publishers—they aren't going to have any original or interesting stuff. They may decide, hey, GoNintendo is a big site, and if they published this story, that must mean it's newsworthy and I should post the same story. (And they may THINK that if lots of other outlets publish the story, then it must be true and someone along the line put in the effort and verified it. ...You know, unless everyone in the chain of story-copying is shameless and lazy, which was the case for the story this article is about.)

As for Serenes Forest, special shout-down to the fact that KoopaTV turncoat YoshiRider123 / Chrom / The Prince of Iris is the author of that. I know from personal experience that he doesn't have an ounce of work ethic, intelligence, or creativity in him. He's the only one who actually name-drops DarkDetective in an article, referring to him as a “games industry member”, which doesn't mean anything and is hardly a credential that makes him a reliable and verifiable source. I'm a games industry member. YOU may even be a games industry member. You can't have a games industry without customers, after all. It's a very vital part, so I'd say that gives you a membership pass. Still, I wouldn't consider you to be a good source of information, though you may be a good source of humour and common sense in KoopaTV's comments section. We value those, by the way, and reward you for that in the KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program. It's better you're there than starting your own crappy news outlet.

By the way, writing about game sales is pretty uninteresting news, so here's an opinion for you: The success of Fire Emblem: Three Houses demonstrates that Fire Emblem's success is not tied to the Awakening/Fates formula. While Three Houses has a lot of problems of its own, I think it rebuffs the idea that, say, the Tellius games (Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn) and their more hardcore (and better) game design are things that the series should stay away from to prevent death. They just needed actual... marketing.

Here's a quick reminder that KoopaTV is not supposed to be a news site but an editorial opinion-maker that has to rely on (reliable) news sites (with journalism standards) to know what's going on in order to know what's out there to make opinions about. Ludwig's very low and negative opinion of ResetEra didn't impact his talking points in this article. KoopaTV has a list of good and bad news sources on this page, and the list of bad ones line up pretty well with the outlets mentioned in this article. He's still updating that with some stragglers, though. If any of these outlets want to interview with KoopaTV, this site would welcome that.

This is somewhat reminiscent of when Ludwig bashed the games media + Chrom (because Chrom was stupid then, too, but stupid games industry members tend to face no consequences) for taking Bill Trinen's #TrinTroll seriously where Bill Trinen made a vague statement that they interpreted as him leaving Nintendo of America.
This Fire Emblem article is nothing compared to how problematic the media can be when it comes to much bigger “news” like Nintendo Switch hardware revisions...
According to CESA White Book 2021, as of December 31, 2020, Fire Emblem: Three Houses sold 3.40 million copies.


  1. Replies
    1. Weeeeeeelllll there happens to be bad journalism all around.

      But hey, it's true that the two Republican and Democrat presidential candidates in 2020 are the BEST-SELLING presidential candidates in American history!

  2. My anonymous sources have told me that Phoenix Wright is going to be the next Super Smash Bros. DLC character with Miles Edgeworth as his alt. According to these trustworthy informants, this message was hidden in between the lines of a Capcom insider report that was recently leaked by the cyber attack. They also tell me that the announcement will take place at The Game Awards on December 10th. You heard it here first.

    1. I was fully intending NOT to watch The Game Awards this year, though...! Must I...?!

  3. I have heard how ResetEra would ban people for talking about games on a forum about games regardless. Don't expect them to be competent.

    1. My issue is less about ResetEra's competence (though they're incompetent in that everyone on the forum seems to believe this one dude posting sales figures without questioning it), and more about the gaming press's competence for using them as a sole source of new information.

      Hey, MKDH. I thought if I'd see you comment on any article in 2020, it'd be the one time I write about Advance Wars game design.


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