Atlus Planning Crazy Surprise for Persona 5 Release Date?

Persona 5 skipped E3, leading some to wonder if it would be released within 2015 even in its native Japan, much less foreign territories. Atlus USA, however, remains firm on the notion that the game will be coming out — and in North America, no less — before the end of this year.

Atlus USA’s PR rep made a statement in an interview with GodIsAGeek, which has sparked squealing excitement in some, speculative disbelief in others.

I’m working on getting those incorrect listings (of Persona 5′s European version, supposedly shipping in 2016) removed. We are trying to get publishers locked in for our titles in EU and will announce things when they are locked in. We don’t want another Shin Megami Tensei IV or Devil Survivor Overclocked situation. We are very aware of what happens when we make premature announcements for Europe. At least I am. The only thing I can confirm for Persona 5 is 2015.”

-Jon Hardin of Atlus USA, responding to retailer listings of Persona 5’s European version allegedly shipping in 2016.

If he really can confirm that Persona 5 is a 2015 game, what I wonder is… could Atlus and its localization branch be planning some really unconventional game PR? At first, I wonder if they just don’t have a date and are afraid of delays, but if they truly “can confirm” 2015, that seems like a strange thing to not announce, when we’re two-thirds of the way through it.

Usually, we see screenshots and/or videos come at a trickle for a few months, followed by an increased pace and release date announcement — if not with a specific day, then with a window that keeps getting narrowed down. A company might say “2015” in November of 2014, then come February, they’ll say “summer,” then a month later specify to “August,” followed by declaring “August 11th” some time after that. Whew.

During that time, the flow of details and media tends to be steady (and when it isn’t we often see delays). It’ll stay that way until release date and perhaps just a bit after. Launch week is a critical time in the life of a game; some expect to sell two-thirds of its total lifetime sales within the first two months on the shelf, with of course your typical exceptions. In Japan, the case still continues that the majority of games sell about half their lifetime marks within the first week or two of availability. Were this not the case, timing of a release date wouldn’t matter as much as it does. (There’s a reason so many games come out in the last few months of the year.)

But Atlus seems to be going a different direction with Persona 5. Could they be trying a trick play, like that time where Keenan dressed up as Goldberg so that no one would cover him and he skated up to fire his patented knuckle puck to score a goal for Team USA when they played I forget was it the Hawks or was that the first movie I can’t remember but the point is Julie “The Cat” Gaffney should have gotten more ice time nothing against Goldberg tho.

The point is, Emilio Estevez and Charlie Conway had a great idea, which worked because of how unconventional it was. I get most of my marketing research and life advice from Emilio Estevez movies. What was the one where he was a hacker? Like he was on a bank heist or something? That one was good, if I recall correctly.

Atlus might be the new Emilio Estevez. The staff might know about a secret December 15 release date, but they’re keeping their mouths shut until December 1st, when they suddenly send out review copies, press releases, game shop posters, and launch trailers. They might be trying to capitalize on right-now excitement rather than create a long, drawn-out process that sees some fans gradually become disinterested.

I mean Emilio had figure skaters out there with guys nicknamed “The Bash Brothers.” And you know what? He won.

Was he in The Breakfast Club or am I imagining that?

Atlus is as unconventional as game companies get. They localize games just because fans want them, they make good products because they think good products are better than shitty ones, and they consider humans people and can see the value in their thoughts as well as their money. They’re the opposite of 99% of other game companies. It shouldn’t be too shocking for them to try something unconventional.

Now we just have to wait and see if Persona 5 really does come out before the end of 2015. Is this an against-the-grain marketing tactic or all part of a game being a bigger task than expected? What would Emilio do? Hmmm….