Square Enix on why Dragon Quest hasn’t been as popular as Final Fantasy in the west

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BladeRunner

SOLDIER, First Class
Jun 7, 2014
939
632
Poland
#1
Square Enix on why Dragon Quest hasn’t been as popular as Final Fantasy in the west, keeping the series fresh

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.
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.
 

Bunansa

Stiltzkin's Apprentice
Jan 3, 2017
11
9
27
#3
I think what really hurts DQ in the west is how slow and "grindy" it is. I played the 3DS version of DQ7 for 10 hours IIRC and still didn't get access to the job system. It doesn't have many "epic" moments or set pieces like FF either.
 

SonOfEtro

Keyblade Master
May 2, 2016
784
619
#4
I'm afraid I'm in the camp that I just can't feel a connection with Dragon Quest: its systems are archaic and their character design (along with Dragon Ball obviously) just makes me wrinkle my nose. I'm no Nomura maniac or anything, but I prefer the variety and styling of FF or series such as Drakengard and Fire Emblem.
 

Lulcielid

Warrior of Light
#5
I'm afraid I'm in the camp that I just can't feel a connection with Dragon Quest: its systems are archaic and their character design (along with Dragon Ball obviously) just makes me wrinkle my nose. I'm no Nomura maniac or anything, but I prefer the variety and styling of FF or series such as Drakengard and Fire Emblem.
I don´t think I´m the more adecuate person to say this (I only played DQVII and watched a few gameplay videos from the other games) but I think the conservative and traditional nature of the franchise might have been detrimental to achiving mass appeal, it might not be problem for its "niche" (in the west) crowd but I might have been for a wider crowd.
 

AnGer-dono

SOLDIER Second Class
Dec 27, 2014
335
132
Germany
#6
I personally find the 'archaic' gameplay of Dragon Quest rather enjoyable and also somewhat fancy Akira Toriyama's/Armor Project's artistic sensibilities over the over-polished art direction of the most recent FFs. I get why it's not for everyone, but in my world view, nothing is ever truly 'for everyone'.

Think of design sensibilities as artistic media - just because something else is in high demand right now doesn't mean everyone wants it and making smaller, more 'tested' fare sometimes can be as correct a choice as doing the big thing everybody wants. It's the same with movies and music, simply because superhero movies and simplistic bass-line-driven electronica are the things a lot of people like (at least that's what I get from looking at both box office and radio charts) doesn't mean dramas or rock music shouldn't be made anymore.

Yes, I am aware that in the end DQ is a product. But it's a product I find worth having around and for people like myself to be able to pick up and enjoy as-is.
 

GALER

Stiltzkin's Apprentice
Jan 30, 2017
13
8
38
#7
I second bunansa's post, DQ really didn't put much effort into epic or pivotal plot moments. And yes, the battles were much too 'grindy.'