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On further inspection: I would have changed "only" to "primary" in the title.
The primary reason Persona 3 and 4 are popular in both Japan and USA is because both countries are extremely alienated, and the people, on average, lack meaningful social interaction in real life. Both cultures strongly encourage reppression of one's desires, putting on a public face, competition in bureaucratic school environments, and etc. Because people cannot connect to one another, they need an outlet to form healthy relationships, so a game with a ton of social interactions mixed with mythological demons is released. People, thus, have a good time by momentarily transposing their sense of self onto the game to experience the joy of truly being social.
I had one friend who did this. Also, I have seen anthropological studies talking about how Japan is a very alienated country (i.e., search "suicide forest"), and I feel like my experience growing up in USA has been very alienating (i.e., anecdotal evidence I know - but many people and "scholars" say the same thing). I also know Persona 3 and 4 are very popular among the Anime and Otaku/cosplay subcultures... subcultures that I have always viewed as being a little alienating and escapist.
As games or stories, neither Persona 3 or 4 are that great, especially compared to Persona 2: IS and EP. A lot of thought went into their "social links" which people construe as good character development, but to me, it is just there to fulfill the lack of social interactions people have in real life. They are more like random soap dramas thrown into a serious plot involving mythological demons. The contrast is bizarre, but the poor dialogue spread throughout the whole game makes the contrast less noticeable.
Interested in whether you think this claim is inaccurate or not.
They are popular because they are enjoyable games and people enjoyed them. It's just that simple.
They enjoyed them because they're lonely and do not have much real social contact in real life.
But here's the thing, you are saying the entire COUNTRIES of Japan and USA are "extremely alienated", and the cause of why P3 and P4 are popular... except they are not that popular at all in this context, they are still niche compared to stuff like Mario and Call of Duty, and even THEN it would be hard to make an argument about an entire society.
r u 'aving a gigle ther m8? (3DS: 2122 - 5984 - 7063) Animal Crossing and Pokemon XY in the future