Monster Hunter Frontier stalking Japanese 360s

Capcom's online action role-playing franchise will attempt to boost the Xbox's flagging Japanese fortunes this summer with a PC MMORPG port; new trailer inside.

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When Capcom changed Monster Hunter Tri from a PlayStation 3 exclusive to a Wii exclusive, the stated reason for the change was the "high development cost of titles for PS3." Development for the Xbox 360 is apparently not quite as expensive, as Capcom today announced that it would be bringing the Monster Hunter series to Microsoft's console.

Monster Hunter Frontier was released for the PC in Japan in 2007.
Monster Hunter Frontier was released for the PC in Japan in 2007.

That said, Monster Hunter's debut on the 360 won't be an all-new game. Instead, Capcom is porting over a preexisting PC massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Monster Hunter Frontier. Released in 2007 in Japan for Windows, the title will launch on Xbox Live this summer in the island nation. According to gaming blog Kotaku, the game will have a ¥1,400 ($15) monthly fee on top of an Xbox Live Gold subscription and will enter closed beta testing in May.

Unfortunately, Capcom did not reveal any further information on the game other than its Japanese launch plans. Whether Monster Hunter Frontier will ever arrive on Western 360s is still unclear. Despite repeated entreaties, Capcom never exported the PC MMORPG outside of Asia.

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After debuting on the PlayStation 2 in 2004, the Monster Hunter franchise has become a particularly profitable franchise for Capcom in Japan. After the series spawned a sequel on the PS2 and debuted on the PSP, the company said it was "growing into the flagship products of Capcom."

Newer installments have been similarly successful in Japan, where Monster Hunter Freedom Unite for the PSP racked up 3.5 million sales. Most recently, Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii topped the Japanese sales charts and managed to sell a million copies in its first month and change on shelves.

The series' debut on the Xbox 360 represents the latest in a long line of attempts from Microsoft to build the console's business in Japan. The system launched there in December of 2005 but started slowly. Microsoft targeted sales of 1 million Xbox 360s well within the system's first year on shelves, but managed to make that milestone only last April. The 360's start was so sluggish that Microsoft saw fit to "relaunch" the system, heavily promoting Japanese-developed role-playing games like Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon.

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