In 1990 Fire Emblem roared onto the gaming scene on the Famicon. From there the series rapidly developed a reputation for its difficulty and layered on top of that, the famous permadeath system. Which, means once any one of your soldiers dies, they're dead forever. The concept of permadeath isn't new to gaming and Fire Emblem didn't introduce it but the whole concept revolves around making every choice matter. One wrong step and the solider you've been grooming for half the game dies forever. Fire Emblem also puts effort into developing the personality of each unit. Each character has their own design, background, motivations and relationships. So where losing a generic thief wouldn't feel that bad, losing the thief who is fighting to protect his childhood best friend, who you've become attached to, sucks. But it creates a memorable level of tension which hardcore fans love.
This spirit served Fire Emblem well for a number of years. the Niche players that could deal with level of difficulty and stress kept the series afloat (and growing) until around 2010, when things started to take a turn for the worst. Sales were in the pits and Nintendo informed Intelligent Systems that if the next Fire Emblem didn't sell over a 250,000 units, the series would be canceled. The developers knew that the recipe they created 20 years ago, was not translating to the modern age of gaming. So they went back to the drawing board.
Ultimately this process led to Fire Emblem Awakening. The most divisive change culture shift in a video game fandom, ever. Awakening was the first game in the series to have an option to eliminate permadeath. This meant characters who were reduced to 0 health points in battles would return after the fight was over. This change along with an artistic overall, introduction of a cutomizable protagonist, and light dating simulator elements meant Fire Emblem could appeal to a larger audience.The option to maintain a high difficulty and permadeath was meant to keep old fans appeased. But, that didn't happen.
Spend anytime in any Fire Emblem fan community and you can find any number of hardcore fans laying into the Awakening and it's successor, Fire Emblem Fates fortheir more casual elements. Among the insults: waifu simulator, and anime trash are probably the most common. This is because the dating sim elements feel very fan service heavy, and hardcore fans find the new games too easy.
They resent the new fans lack of knowledge of the older games. Because Fire Emblem Awakening did so well, a whole myriad of new fans jumped onto the bandwagon without knowing what Fire Emblem used to be. Many of the new fans reject the old games for their difficulty or just flat out don't know anything about them. The hardcore fans of Fire Emblem look down on the new fans and the new fans look down on the hardcore fans. Whether they prefer the new games or the old games, neither side is willing to admit the importance of the other.
I have played every Fire Emblem Game ever released in the Sates and enjoy all of them. Fire Emblem Fates, one of the modern releases, got on my nerves because the level of fan service was gross to me and the last older Fire Emblem, Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn, was fun, but undeniably unforgiving for the larger gaming market. There are faults to be found in both eras of Fire Fire Emblem and because of this huge gap between fans, it's impossible to read anything about these games without noticing an internal bias and complete lack of ability to acknowledge this bias.
Most Recently Fire Emblem Echos: Shadows of Valentia released on the 3DS to mixed critic reception. Receiving as high as 9 from some sites and as low as 6 from others. So why this massive disparity? Because the critics are also falling prey to the division among fans. Because it is a remake of an old game, it represents the roots of Fire Emblem far more than Fates or Awakening and the new adopters are finding themselves lost in the intensity of the strategic elements, the lack of the dating sim elements, or customized protagonists. Fundamentally, they are put off by Echos and because of that, the quality of the game is pushed to the wayside. As they voice their frustrations hardcore fans yell them about not knowing anything about the series. And it makes no sense. Without what came before, Awakening and Fates wouldn't exist and without the series changing to embrace a larger audience, Fire Emblem would literally not exist today
Respect must find a way to flow between the fan groups. Or, fans will never be able to talk to each other. Fire Emblem is a series which demands a certain level of strategy. And it'd be nice to be able to talk about strategy. I would have never been able to play Fire Emblem Awakening on Lunatic without the help of the Fire Emblem Community with optimizing my team. Casual players aren't harming the integrity of the franchise, they saved it. And it doesn't take a dating sim elements to make a Fire Emblem game. It benefits us all to have a warmer community overall.