Now that the boring preface information is out of the way, we can actually dig into some of the more interesting identified trends. Since 2004, the RPG genre as a whole has grown quite a bit. If anything, this can probably be attributed to the fact that RPGamers now have more platform options than ever. The Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii continue to be viable console options, while next generation portables and mobile devices have joined the handheld gaming market.
Looking at the overall subgenre totals for the sample time period, there are far more tactical RPGs and fewer western RPGs than I initially would have expected. My inaccurate tunnel vision can likely be attributed to the high level of promotion western RPGs receive in North America and the niche approach tactical RPGs assume.
JRPGs have remained a dominant subgenre over the past ten years. Overtime, there has been a minor growth in western RPG releases and a decline in strategic and tactical RPG releases. Action RPGs are another dominant subgenre, but the number of releases isn't nearly as high as I would have initially assumed.
With regard to platforms, while console releases were once the premier venue for the RPG genre, since 2007 mobile and portable devices have taken over, with mobile releases quickly becoming the dominant platform for overall RPG releases. It would appear that 2009 was the best year for overall number of RPG releases, which is interesting as it was also one of the lowest years for home consoles. If anything, this can be probably be attributed to the iOS and Android platforms becoming more prominent while portable releases on the Nintendo DS and PSP also hit their peak.
Almost half of RPGs released during the sample time period have never reached North American shores. Sadly, this is a trend that will be echoed throughout this article. Based on overall region release patterns, one can assume that the genre is seen by publishers as being more popular among Japanese audiences. More outstanding RPGs than I can comfortably cite have yet to make it to Western audiences and may never in the future.
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