In April 2006, Okami was released on the PlayStation 2 in Japan. The game was a critics' favorite and a commercial flop.
Selling a mere 66,000 copies the year it was first released in its native Japan, the Capcom game follows a Japanese sun goddess and uses game controls based on a brush calligraphy. The fallout from the game's failure resulted in the designers who created it leaving Capcom, founding their own studio and developing titles like Bayonetta.
But there has to be a reason why the 40-hour-plus game failed in Japan. According to Capcom's Motohide Eshiro, who is producing a Nintendo DS game based on it, there is a reason.
"I can't comment officially but, personally speaking, I think it had a lot to do with the announcements for new consoles," said Eshiro. "That was overshadowing any other game news at the time."
In 2006, the PlayStation 2 was fading from the limelight with the approaching PlayStation 3 and Wii releases that November. The Xbox 360 was released in December 2005, but this is Japan we're talking about, and we all know how that turned out.
But, Final Fantasy XII came out on the PlayStation 2 in 2006, and it sold boatloads, moving over 5 million copies. So you can see the holes in Eshiro's logic. The big giant, gaping holes.
While sales were slow in Japan, the game somewhat betterl in North America, selling 200,000 copies for the PS2 in 2006. A Wii version was released in 2008, and to date, the game has sold north of a half million copies, but how well can a game about a goddess in wolf-clothes do?
Okami was released on the wrong console at the wrong time [Official Nintendo Magazine]