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Square Enix Explains Why Final Fantasy Is More Popular Than Dragon Quest

January 3, 2017 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

Square Enix has addressed a common question among fans of the company’s games: why Final Fantasy remains an enduring franchise while Dragon Quest has failed to ride the same wave of popularity. Yu Miyake, an executive producer on Dragon Quest, was asked the question by EDGE (via Techno Buffalo) and laughed, saying, “It’s a topic we have been thinking about a lot internally.”

Miyake said that a big part of it is “that it’s a question of historical timing.” He explained, “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.”

While pointing out that the game franchise continues to be popular in Japan, he also said that he believes Dragon Quest’s more cartoon-style graphics may be holding it back in the US. “Now, Akira Toriyama’s art style is cartoonish, and in Japan that doesn’t alienate anyone; it’s not seen as childish,” he said. “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.”

Dragon Quest XI is set to be released for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Nintendo 3DS in 2017 in Japan. There’s no confirmation on an English localization yet.