Dragon Quest Producer On Series’ Popularity in the West

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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Dragon Quest

In an interview with EDGE the executive producer of the series, Yu Miyake spoke about how the series compares to Final Fantasy in the West. He mentions a few things that he thinks hindered the series outside of Japan. Here’s what he said regarding the subject:

“We’re still trying! [Laughs] It’s a topic we have been thinking about a lot internally: the question of why Final Fantasy is so much more popular than Dragon Quest in the west. One conclusion that we’ve reached is that it’s a question of historical timing. When the Famicom came out, Dragon Quest was the key game everyone was playing. But when the PlayStation came out, Final Fantasy VII was the game that everyone was playing. So the source of nostalgia is different for both groups: in Japan it’s Dragon Quest while overseas it’s Final Fantasy. The truth is that if we’d put a lot of effort into localising Dragon Quest at the time, we probably wouldn’t be facing this issue today. I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but we kind of messed up in that regard.

We put a lot of effort into Dragon Quest VIII. We put a lot of thought on how we could appeal outside of Japan. We used a lot more regional voice acting, for example. We put a lot of thought into the menu design. But we didn’t want to give up the core element that made the game Dragon Quest. The game did have some modest sales overseas, but it wasn’t anywhere close to the level of Final Fantasy sales.

One thing that does stand out: in Japan the target audience for Dragon Quest is vast. It ranges from primary school students to people in their 50s. Now, Akira Toriyama’s art style is cartoonish, and in Japan that doesn’t alienate anyone; it’s not seen as childish. But outside of Japan, I think there’s often a stigma attached to that kind of aesthetic. Now, when an adult tries the game, they will discover that the subject matter is actually quite mature. Nevertheless, players are still left with this disconnect between how the game looks and how it plays. That’s a tension that just doesn’t exist in Japan. What we’re seeing now is that the age of people who are playing is rising. Interest is also increasing. We’re trying to put a lot more effort into promoting overseas the spinoff titles we’ve been working on – Dragon Quest Builders and Dragon Quest Heroes – in order to soften up the ground for Dragon Quest XI.”

Miyake also spoke about the series balances change and tradition:

“Instead of changing the game itself, we focus on changing the way it’s played in the world. For example, with Dragon Quest IX we made a handheld game, because that’s how people were playing games predominantly at that time. Dragon Quest X we made into an online game. So that’s how we try to keep the series fresh. In fact, we run the risk of alienating the fans when we moved from pixel-art to 3D with the move to Dragon Quest VIII. And when we made the tenth game, a lot of players complained, saying that Dragon Quest should never be an online game. But it turns out that, in each of these cases, when you start playing the game, you find that it still has the same feel. It’s still quintessentially Dragon Quest.”

So what do you all think about it?


About Walter P

Plays too much, but still has too many games to finish. Will play any type of game and will watch anything, so is of course not good at being productive. Loves anything crazy.

  • Mr0303

    It’s great to hear Japanese creators talk about the Western market in such a manner. It sounds that they know it has potential and an audience to adopt their games. If they really want to make it in the West they really need to start localising the games in a more timely manner. An year wait for a big franchise like that is detrimental to the games.

    • Kelechuckuw K.c.W

      completely agree the best way to have be big in the west again is to allow gamers to have access to their game on all the platforms and those of us in the fan base/ audience seeking them will come after them like hot cakes

  • Vanadise

    I feel like the explanation for DQ’s relative lack of success compared to FF in the USA is pretty obvious; it started when Enix completely pulled out of the US a short ways into the SNES era, so we never got DQ5 and 6, while Square’s success with FF4 and 6 made them the king of JRPGs over here.

    Then FF7 came out, which had a huge advertising campaign and set the standard for fancy graphics on the Playstation, and a new generation of gamers were weaned on Final Fantasy. When DQ7 finally came out, it was a good game, but all of the DQ fans from the NES days had moved on, and the comparatively weak graphics and oldschool gameplay didn’t earn the series any new fans.

    By the time DQ8 came out, Square (well, now Square-Enix) had already released FF 8, 9, 10, and 11, all of which were big successes. DQ8 is a fantastic game, but it was basically starting fresh and had to build a fan base from the ground up. FF 12 and 13 then both came out before DQ9 did, which was, again, and great game, but on a handheld system, and they’ve never been as popular as the home consoles here in the USA. So SE decided not to release DQ10 here at all, but since then we’ve gotten FF 14 and 15.

    Just releasing DQ games here in a timely fashion would be a great start, but at this point I doubt the series can ever catch up to the popularity of FF over here.

    • Panpopo

      Yep, I couldn’t agree more. I sometimes wonder if DQ5 was released on the SNES in the west, what it could have for the series here. Easily one of the best games I ever played, and I’m sure if other players at the time tried it, they would think the same. Comparable to what FF4, FF6 and FF7 did for final fantasy.

      Oh well, I am just glad we are getting more DQ.

    • Kelechuckuw K.c.W

      as said at the top I completely agree the best way to have be big in the west again is to allow gamers to have access to their game on all the platforms and those of us in the fan base/ audience seeking them will come after them like hot cakes

  • Audie Bakerson
    • No_Good_Names_Ever

      Step 2: Use the money saved off retranslating a translation to advertise the game and the saved time to get it out earlier.

  • No_Good_Names_Ever

    Holy shit, someone at SE still has some form of actual sense! Are we finally leaving the bizarroverse with 2017?!

  • First off don’t censor your games when you bring it to the west. Secondly put it on more than one platform. DQXI for example should be on the PS4, Switch, PC, and XB1 in the west.

    • No_Good_Names_Ever

      For turn based Japanese RPGs?

      Never ever.

    • Why not? PS4 is just a weaker and restricted PC. So is the Xbox One. Games needs to be on as much platforms as possible that is why this is on the switch. No matter how much you Sony fanboys fight adgainst progress the fact is that this game is made with Unreal Engine 4 so it will come to PC eventually.

    • No_Good_Names_Ever

      Because RPGs from what I’ve heard never sell well on it, it’s pretty much the dudebro console, and I don’t think its sells in Japan ever got anywhere beyond crud. It’s on Switch because Nintendo is still a big name and like I just said; sells better than XB in Japan. I’d love it to come to PC but look at SEs track record with DQ ports; not a one on PC except Heroes.

    • NIER was not on PC before but things are changing. And their is no need to worry about the port as Unreal Engine 4 is made with PC in mind. I want this game as much platforms as possible in the west to help DQ get more popular over here. We need more good jrpgs.

    • No_Good_Names_Ever

      That’s a Square; not an Enix game. If things were changing, PC would have ended up with the cellphone ports like it did with Final Fantasy but SE doesn’t seem to want DQ on PC.

    • We are getting FF and Chrono Trigger cell phone ports so Square really see PC gaming as a real money maker. I know when DQXI is annouced for the west a steam logo will appear in the video. Trust me.

    • PanurgeJr

      The group of people who believe that localization is censorship is small and insular enough, compared to the game buying market as a whole, that adopting the localization practices those misguided zealots advocate would result in worse games suffering worse sales, so they absolutely should start by what you misapply the label “censorship” to.

      Odd how the people who most claim to desire Japanese games make getting them more difficult by creating a riskier and more hostile market for publishers to operate in.

    • As long as they censor their games like they did for that crappy DQ8 3ds game I will be happy. You would think by now Japanese devs would understand that majority of people that buy weeb games hate censorship. Aw well they will learn eventually.

    • Miqubi

      DQ8 wasn’t “censored” for the reasons people think, there was a video from the developers talking about another DQ game where they said that due to more stringent CERO ratings they cannot include some of the older outfit designs in the game, this likely applies to DQ8 as well, the blame for DQ8 is on CERO this time, not on SE or Nintendo.

    • Rating boards are all evil. They should still have it uncensored in the west.

    • Miqubi

      The group of people who say “localisation = censorship” and cannot go two posts on an announcement article wondering how a title will get censored or claiming they’ll “surely censor it” are lunatic paranoid crazies, but the people who would bend over backwards to defend some localisation choices without criticizing are just as pathetic. As far as I am concerned both extremist sides suck.

      Now in regards to your statement, first you claim that people who don’t like edits are small compared to the buying market for those games, then you claim that due to said people the localisation process of games is “riskier”? They are either irrelevant, and in which case they cannot make the process riskier, or they are not make up your mind, and anyway both statements are wrong.

      It’s a case by case basis, it depends on the game and the audience, and the changes, some games can and will get away with changes (minor/big/irrelevant/relevant etc), for others their audience will be less likely to accept the edits, also if it makes the market “riskier” is likely because that’s not the product people wanted, the fault lies with the company in that case, not with people unwilling to part with their cash for something they don’t like.