Capcom's Monster Hunter franchise is huge in Japan. Outside Japan? Not so huge. There must be reasons for that. There are, apparently.
One of the biggest reasons seems to be the game's ad hoc network play. For Monster Hunter, this type of play is so popular that friends often meet up just to play MH. Capcom's Keiji Inafune explains to Game Informer:
It's important to bear in mind that the game wasn't initially a success in Japan. When it first came out, it still had people playing together cooperatively, but it was based online in a much more limited way compared to PSP. When it moved to the PSP and you could have four people sitting around together to play on an ad hoc network, that's when it really took off in Japan. So you'd get friends playing together and get people of different skill levels and experience levels helping each other out and interacting that way. This plays a big part in why it was so successful in Japan-it's a game that takes a long time to find interesting. There's quite a long ramp to get to the point where you're actually into the game. If you're playing with four other people in that way, you're much more likely to hit that point than if you're by yourself. For the U.S., really, we need to convey how fun it is to play to people and to get to the point where you find the game interesting. Probably playing on infrastructure mode isn't really the way to do that, that's my feeling. It's about getting people together and having them go through this experience together.
Monster Hunter is obviously fun to play — however, we think the hard sell is going to be convincing Western gamers they need to play with a bunch of friends together in the same room to truly enjoy the experience. Though, it's possible. Anything is possible.
Well, not anything.
East Meets West—Capcom's Inafune Talks Dark Void, More [Game Informer via Go Nintendo]