While the Final Fantasy series has enjoyed success in North America and Europe, the Dragon Quest series hasn’t gained the same traction in the West, with this year’s Dragon Quest Builders selling the majority of its 1.1 million copies in Japan.
Speaking with Edge (via Nintendo Everything), Dragon Quest Executive Producer Yu Miyake said Square Enix has been thinking about the comparison between the two franchises in the West. One reason why they think Final Fantasy is so much more popular is because of historical timing:
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 localizing 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.
Using the addition of more regional voice acting as an example, Miyake says Square Enix put a lot of effort into making Dragon Quest VIII appeal to gamers outside of Japan. Although it did have some “modest sales overseas,” he adds that “it wasn’t anywhere close to the level of Final Fantasy sales.”
Miyake also highlighted the fact that the target audience for Dragon Quest in Japan ranges from kids to adults in their 50s, and the cartoonish art style doesn’t alienate anyone in Japan. “But outside of Japan, I think there’s often a stigma attached to that kind of aesthetic,” he added.
Things are looking up for the Dragon Quest franchise is the West though, as Square Enix is noticing that the age of players is rising, and so is interest. “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,” he concluded.
Why do you think Final Fantasy is more popular than Dragon Quest in the West?