Nier: Automata sells 8 million as Tencent cancels mobile game and Yoko Taro says you’ve already had the third one anyway

Nier: Automata is one of those games where the legend keeps growing, and deservedly so. The series began with a flawed 2010 RPG that seemed destined for obscurity, before publisher Square Enix made the wise decision to co-develop sequel Nier: Automata with action specialists PlatinumGames. What resulted remains unique in its looping structure, top-tier customisable combat, unforgettable vistas, and the immaculate vibes at the world’s end.

Nier: Automata recently celebrated the seventh anniversary of its Japanese release, and Platinum used the occasion to announce a new sales milestone, and share a bunch of new art from the studio’s staff:

“Released in Japan on 23 February 2017, NieR:Automata celebrates its 7th anniversary with the amazing news that it has sold a whopping 8 million copies across the globe!”

Platinum adds that Nier: Automata “shows no sign of slowing down”, mentioning the orchestral tour, anime adaptation, and of course nothing at all about a sequel. Which is all that anyone wants to know about, really. 

Don’t take my word for it: people love these games and pine for a new Nier to this day, to the extent that everyone got obsessed with an in-game church in 2022. something of which series creator Yoko Taro is all-too-aware. The creator made an appearance at the recent London orchestral shows, told the crowd to cheer the Square Enix president (who was there) so he knew there was an appetite for an Automata sequel, and then the big tease (as reported by one attendee on resetera): the word “repent” was flashed up repeatedly, with the final appearance altering the spelling to “r3pent”. 

Obviously, people reacted with restraint. Following a rash of reports that suggested he’d been teasing a third game, Taro subsequently took to social media and had this to say: “r3incarnationan” [sic]. The ‘3’ will instantly have Nier fans haring off like they’re long-term followers of Valve, but Taro’s point seems to be that talking about a third entry in the series ignores the 2021 mobile title Nier: Reincarnation (on which he served as creative director).

And Taro may be in even more of a funk than usual, because one future path for the series was recently shut off. At the start of February Reuters reported on the cancellation of a Nier mobile game that had been in development at Tencent. The game had apparently been in the works for almost two years, with a playable demo shared internally, before Tencent got concerned about the monetisation and licensing fees (Nier is owned by Square Enix). The project was cancelled in December 2023.

Wait… there’s a “3” in there. Rejoice! I jest of course, but what a grab-bag of Nier news this is: an outstanding 8 million copies sold of a game many might file under cult classic, some teases about possible futures, and one project cancelled for sure. “R3pent” may seem like a smoking gun, but looking for straight answers here is a fool’s errand, and that may well be Taro’s point when invoking Reincarnation. People say they want Nier: Automata 2, in other words, but when has this series ever delivered what people wanted?

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