This article on ‘The FGO-ification of Melty Blood: How To Promote a Niche Series’ was available earlier through the Gamerbraves Newsletter. Sign up for free to gain access to more articles about news and trends in the gaming industry and community.
Original Article: It often feels like Fate/Grand Order (FGO) is everywhere nowadays and fans of the Tsukihime fighting game Melty Blood: Type Lumina are certainly feeling that as well this week. The game recently got two new DLC characters: The Count of Monte Cristo and Ushiwakamaru from FGO. This means that 3/4 of the second season of DLC for Melty Blood consists of Chaldea servants with the other character being Neco Arc.
Needless to say, a lot of players were upset. There were Twitter threads, review bombing on Steam and general disappointment from Melty’s small but loyal fanbase. This, however, is a problem with a lot of companies/franchises when one title, in particular, becomes such a cash cow, inevitably it starts taking away attention from other series. Even other Fate/products seem to take a backseat to Grand Order nowadays.
There are fairly good arguments from both sides though so let’s take a look at why FGO being crammed into all of Type Moon’s other works is such a double-edged sword.
Melty Blood at its core is a Tsukihime game. It has the Visual novel’s characters and expands on its story and lore. A big part of the divisiveness is that Tsukihime as a whole has been on hiatus for around the past ten years in part due to Fate/Grand Order. Type-Moon head Kinoko Nasu outright said the Tsukihime Remake which was announced in 2008 was delayed even further because of Grand Order’s success before eventually launching in 2021.
This latest Melty Blood game also launched the same year, making it seem like the husk of the series was finally being thrown some new blood and while it’s still gotten some time to shine, seeing them resort back to not only Fate characters but FGO specific servants, can be pretty disappointing.
This is especially the case as several Melty Blood staples like Sion, Nrvnqsr Chaos, Wallachia, and Nanaya still aren’t playable. Yes, they’re probably being withheld for the upcoming second half of the Tsukihime Remake, and I know the devs said Sion wouldn’t be present but I feel that this self-imposed ban was not a good decision for a fighting game.
We don’t know when the upcoming VN will launch and if Type Lumina will be able to last until it does. The game doesn’t exactly have high player numbers in the first place. Not to mention, it’s a fighting game, when has canon ever truly mattered in a fighting game (if it did the FGO servants wouldn’t be here in the first place)? Ultimately though, people just want to see more of the Tsukihime/Melty cast, especially with how little content there’s been in the last few years.
Fate/Grand Order’s Success
Of course, the counterargument to this is that it makes sense to add FGO characters to Melty Blood since FGO is so successful. It is one of the most successful gacha games of all time and continues to bring in revenue in the millions.
Many of the servants of FGO in turn have large followings, many of whom may be willing to try the game just because they’re in it. That in turn may introduce more fans to Melty Blood and therefore Tsukihime.
You see similar arguments with series like Persona and Shin Megami Tensei, and older Fire Emblem compared to New Fire Emblem. Get people who are fans of the popular thing to try out the less popular things. It’s not a flawless strategy however as there’s no guarantee that a significant number of FGO would be willing to buy the game and it can alienate that older audience that just wants to see their favorite series get a bit more support.
It isn’t just Tsukihime/Melty Blood either. A lot of Type Moon’s work in the last decade or so has revolved heavily around Fate and particularly FGO with constant light novels, merchandise, and anime. Nasu had plans for two sequels to Witch on The Holy Night and a new IP called Girls’ Work but both have remained absent for ten years or more.
I think the most notable of FGO’s conquests have been the Carnival Phantasm (still the best Type-Moon anime) follow-up Fate/Grand Carnival. What was once a crossover between Fate and Tsukihime, now revolves entirely around FGO. The image of Neco Arc turned into Mysterious Neco X, cosplaying as one of the many FGO alternates of Saber, is kind of the perfect metaphor for how much of Type-Moon seems to revolve around FGO.
In 2021 however, this began to change. The full moon once again shone and finally revealed the Tsukhime remake. This was soon followed by Melty Blood and the Witch on The Holy Night HD Remaster. These were and still are great announcements that show that Type-Moon is still willing to put love and care into their non-Fate series.
I think that’s part of why Dantes and Ushi in Melty Blood is so divisive. There’s more than enough room for all these series to coexist and it seems the non-Fate IPs are finally coming out of FGO’s shadow but now people are afraid they might be pulled right back in.
For all we know maybe the New Years’ Eve Type-Moon stream will reveal Tsukihime: Other Side of Red Garden coming out next year and alongside it, a 3rd season of Melty Blood DLC filled with returning characters. The new Boss Rush for the game has been hilariously meta and seems to hint at more returning veterans. I hope that’s the case but it’s yet to be seen. They’ve stated that Dantes and Ushi will be “the last summon” so it’s possible we’ll get less FGO (if you’re willing to believe Neco Arc at least).
I can see the arguments on both sides. FGO makes money, that’s a simple truth. Companies will give more attention to the IP that brings in the cash, and having a couple of guest characters in your fighting is always a fun way to keep things fresh. That being said, I do think another important part of running a media company is variety. Atlus doesn’t release SMT as often as Persona but when they do, they’re not trying to cram social links into the game.
Having different series for different niches is a good thing and pushing FGO into all of their IPs not only disappoints the existing fans but also makes FGO feel too oversaturated. People play Melty Blood for the Melty Blood characters and the fact that fans are questioning if that’s still going to be the case, is not a good look for the IP.