I totally understand that not only the lackluster gameplay that is such a turn off for western fandom, but also, the fact it's on mobile, and then it's also gacha, That even if SE fixed the gameplay and mobile issues, there is still the gacha. but again, devs may not care even if the game has smaller fanbase, as long it brings in money.
Handheld , and later mobile, strive in Japan because they are such a busy, active community that likes to play on the go,while waiting on the bus or even as you take bath or taking a shit, when the west likes a console/PC game they can play as they sit at home while drinking Mountain Dew and Doritos. But that busy lifestyle is also supported by the more consuming culture in Japan. As in, in Japan, people are more willing to buy for hobbies , and thus, to whale in gachas, when in the west people are still think and rethink to spend their money on hobbies. There are already loads of stories where people whale as much as thousands of dollars and make loan of it for their specific waifus and husbandos in japan....
Typically, for console games, larger playerbase and localization is proportional to increase of copy sales. But not so with gacha revenue. Typically, gacha revenue from japan ALONE can be 2-3 times more than revenue from the REST OF THE WORLD, like what happened with Fire Emblem Heroes. Fate: Grand Order's Japan-only revenue is even TEN times the rest of the world. The forementioned Twisted Wonderland? That game generates 5 million USD in ONE YEAR, despite is JAPAN ONLY ,when FFBE needs five years to generate the same amount despite that game is available for global.
I will admit that I do have toxic positivity mindset that KHUX and DR being like this isn't the worst, the worst is when they are Japan-only, and if many games stil feel like sparing some effort on localization doesn't worth it, what about bigger investment like gameplay and graphic? still I agree that they would be more recognized if they were on console and without gacha. Truthfully I do agree cutting corners and disrespect is what SE have been doing to KH , and not just SE but also Disney, despite KH did sell LOADS https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_Japanese_role-playing_game_franchises
(it was 5th place on this list) . This proves not that KH didn't sell, just SE and Disney is the one underestimating it.
However, it can also be argued back that the high sales is because KH games are continuous and all connected, players are forced to buy the other games to understand the whole franchise, and same person may buy the collection all over again. So while perhaps FF did have larger playerbase, KH's revenue come from the dedicated fans that keep buying the collections, and they are not that few. ... This, while FF7 is shaping up to be its own connected series, much like KH... so yeah can see why SE invest more FF7R, and to lesser context, Dragon Quest, and even more less on KH.
You mentioned FFXIV, a MMORPG. But even nowadays, big MMORPG like Warcraft or Ragnarok have moved to mobile. Companies are aware
I'll admit, I do underestimated the impact of mobile in Japan and considering the culture there, yeah, mobile titles being as popular as they are makes a lot of sense.
Japanese and American culture is widely different in a lot ways. You are right about that because Americans (including myself for a time) just do not have a bad view on mobile/handheld titles because of lower hardware capability and it just doesn't match with the current console culture and the way American operate throughout the day. Its sort of the same with Animation in American compared to Animation in Japan, its just a cultural difference.
However, now that I think about it, I do think the Switch is really is changing that though. I've seen so many people with their Switch all the time on buses and trains. Same with mobile now beyond stuff like Fruit Ninja or candy crush; now we have stuff like Raid: Shadow Legends and the lattee. Its starting to come around just a little bit, espeically younger audiences and the hardware catching up to rival modern consoles. So I don't blame Japan for pursuing the mobile market because it's huge potential internationally as well and, as you said before, they make butt loads of cash in a year and sometimes lower tier gameplay is irrelevant in some cases unless something FF7.
I don't know if gacha is ever going to disappear in the same in game purchases in modern games won't. I just hope both become less predatory in practice. It happened when I was playing Tales of Arise but not as severe as the Assassin's Creed franchise.
One thing I never think about though was KH revenue being not as big, which I guess is obvious and makes more sense why Sqaure doesn't invest as much KH as they should. KH has an insanely dedicated fanbase in the console market but not by much compared to many others, so I guess I see why Sqaure only priorities certain aspects of KH. I also think, yeah, the handheld aspect of KH for almost an entire decade turned people away from the franchise and that affected it revenue as well, since I'm pretty sure KH is one of those Japanese franchises that more popular in America then Japan but I could be wrong about that. It might generally be the same, maybe 60/40. Not sure.
But man, like, I understand it's a business and Sqaure is all about making sure money comes through and cater to their audience, especially in their home country. I think its just one of those classic cases of money over what would be extremely cool creatively. Its a lack of not wanting to try because why should they? But KH has more much potential in so many ways that I don't think Sqaure even realizes, even after they put in some effort for KH3, more then they have in a decade. Or maybe they do and are slowly starting to kick it off next year and see what happens.
Like a KHUx MMORPG with 3D KH gameplay would be fucking dope and it would make sense to make (at the right time anyway) and it would tie so many fans over between releases. Maybe the amount of money it would make just isn't worth it? As you said, KH doesn't make as much as their other heavy hitters, so maybe they feel like it wouldn't last in the long run and it wouldn't be able to make a return since, yeah, I guess there is just not a lot of fans out there but, again, I think Sqaure over estimates how much fans love this series and it could go the distance with so many improvements and gain new fans. 5th place on the charts is not a bad place to be honest and the collection did a good enough job to increase KH's popularity.
If the announcement of Sora being in Smash Bros as the final character thats been hyped up since Brawl that was meant with universal praise and no in tongue in cheek memes bad mouthing the series but celebrating how much they love Sora and Kingdom Hearts as a whole is not enough for Sqaure to realize they are missing out on a potential goldmine if they just improved things and get the franchise a litte more exposure in the market and give Nomura is little bit more resources to be on the same level as FF7R. Its a risk and companies generally don't like taking risk but this is a special case where I think the risk is worth of they make sure the product is good.
KHUx and Dark Road would lasted much longer if it was made with FF7: The First Solider style in mind. To be fair, that might not of been possible as the time so idk but like you said, companies are understanding the importance of mobile even in their MMO titles. Don't see why it can't. Make it multiplatform but honestly you don't have too. I would gladly play a mobile game if it was polished enough and meant the high standard. If GI can do it, KH definately can and should.
But to be fair, I don't even think Sqaure doesn't want to do it. They clearly haven't abandoned the series outright and understood the wide demand for KH3 but something clearly is being held back considering the amount of issues KH3 had. I do think the legal aspect of working with Disney is a big contributing factor. If Sqaure can't widely give the series more attention because the legal loopholes and bullshit Sqaure would have to jump through makes giving the franchise more money and resources not all that worth if they can't widely sell toys like other franchises or hell, even have a presence in Disneyland. But honestly why not? Why not hash it out with Disney? Disney is always going to get a certain percentage, that's just how it is. It doesn't mean they can't work out a deal. I know film is a widely different industry but If Sony and Marvel can do it with shared characters like Spider man, I don't see why Sqaure and Disney can't sit down and hash it out once and for all so both parties make money. Plus, despite some successes in the video game market, Disney promoting Kingdom Hearts as their premiere video game title would do them so much good.
I also think Disney needs to allow Nomura a little bit more creative freedom, which what sort held KH3 back in the Disney department as far some story stuff is concerned. What matter most is who they games are received and if Disney is holding them back too much, I think maybe they need to be less strict to allow for more dynamic storytelling that KH can excell at if done right. And I think Nomura is passionate for what he is going to make for KH if Yozora (as much as it worries me a bit) is anything to do by
I do have hope for the future despite my reservations. We still have the Disney+ show on the way and KH games are fully back in the console market. My hope for the saga is that it furher increases KH engagement but that depends on the game. KH2 is celebrated because its a stellar game and has remain the peak of this franchise. The next game needs to reach that level and if it does, I think Sqaure and Disney will invest into it. And its like they didn't with KH3 to some degree but clearly corner were cut. But honeslty, I find that more to do with troubled development and Nomura's possible bitter steering the ship of KH3 into a lackluster direction despite rhe money it made, which would've been more. We have a chance to turn it around. A fresh start.
All this mobile games stuff and KH exposure is all going to boil down with the reception of the next game and the TV show. If both can succeed widely, bigger things will come KH, including a well polished mobile game that's also multi platform that fans have been wanting for a while. I know the crazy plot is still memed to death on the internet but if KH4 or the next game is loved across the board, none of that is even gonna matter.
We'll gave to wait and see I guess. We got a month and half to go until next year.