Both the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy franchises are owned by Square Enix. However, Final Fantasy has always seemed to have much more successful titles in the west when compared to the Dragon Quest series, despite Dragon Quest’s massive popularity in Japan. To elaborate on this difference, Dragon Quest executive producer Yu Miyake recently spoke in last month’s issue of gaming magazine EDGE, in which he explained the reasons for why the series has yet to reach the same level of popularity as Final Fantasy in the west, noting that “it’s a topic we have been thinking about a lot internally.” [Thanks, NintendoEverything.]
Miyake also attributed the difference to “historical timing,” saying that Dragon Quest became popular in Japan with the release of the Famicom, while Final Fantasy VII became a success in the west with the release of PlayStation.
Additionally, Miyake mentioned that, while the art design for Dragon Quest is not seen as “childish” in Japan, he believes that there is a stigma attached to that sort of cartoonish aesthetic in the west, severely limiting the potential audience for the games.
However, Miyake says that they have been seeing the age of people playing Dragon Quest increasing, along with interest in the games. He went on to say that Square Enix has been putting a lot of effort into promoting spin-offs like Dragon Quest Builders and Dragon Quest Heroes overseas in hopes that it will “soften the ground” for the upcoming Dragon Quest XI.
Lastly, when EDGE noted that, while Final Fantasy often changes its design at the risk of alienating fans, Dragon Quest has the task of maintaining the balance between providing a traditional experience while simultaneously making sure that the formula is fresh and not overly familiar. To this, Miyake had the following to say:
“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.”
To read the full commentary from Miyake, you can go here.