Fire Emblem Awakening saved the series and reshaped it — for better or worse

Fire Emblem Awakening celebrates 10 years today, February 4, 2023. Below, we take a look at how a strict sales mandate from Nintendo nearly spelled doom for the series, until it didn’t.

Even among Nintendo’s top-tier collection of IPs, Fire Emblem is one of the strongest. Announcements of new Fire Emblem titles often headline Nintendo’s beloved Direct presentations, where they are greeted with a flurry of excitement and anticipation. But things haven’t always been so good for the Fire Emblem series. In fact, about a decade ago, Nintendo was ready to throw Fire Emblem into its vault of forgotten franchises. But in a stunning turnaround, the game that developers feared might be the last Fire Emblem, Fire Emblem Awakening, has turned into a savior for the series – although the influence it’s had on the series over the past decade is not without controversy.

According to a 2013 interview with Spanish publication Hobby Consolas, The Fire Emblem series had declined in popularity during the Wii and DS era, and Nintendo leaders told the team and co-developer Intelligent Systems that the series would stop if the new game didn’t sell at least 250,000 copies. Knowing that this might be the last Fire Emblem game in mind, the developers came up with some really wild ideas, including the possibility of setting the game in the modern world, even on Mars. Ultimately, however, the team stuck with a traditional fantasy setting. They then decided to look at story and gameplay elements that had been well received in previous FE games for ideas on what to implement and build upon.