Level Up: Dragon Quest X Learns PC Ability! Let’s Discuss the Future of its Release Stateside!

Last year, hardcore DQ veteran Jarrod Nichol and I had a long discussion on Dragon Quest X’s Japanese Wii launch in the replies of my article, which resulted in me talking about an imminent port. Can’t say I told you so, but it’s finally here! Another successful prediction by yours truly! Scroll down the comments of previously-linked article for proof. I can’t believe it’s launching so soon though; September 26th.

Let’s backtrack and analyze the history bit by bit as this series of events make a lot of sense. Console-exclusive MMOs are relatively unheard of, so last year’s Japanese launch of DQX on the Wii was a wild card. For a DQ title, it sales were lacking. As an MMO, however, it has done exceptionally well, looking at the fact that it was released for a single console that dried up in popularity by 2012. In that year alone, DQX sold 660000 copies and has gained over 400000 subscribers. That’s what I a call a money-maker in the long term.

There are a couple of downsides to the whole story, however. It’s late Wii release and complex requirements for it to run on the console (mandatory USB and two discs) spelled immediate doom for an international release. Western Wii owners will most likely not jump through these hoops in order to play a single game. The Wii U port was the only hope for a bigger draw due to hassle-free gaming and a potential international audience. Sadly, however, that port was released in Japan on March with very little fanfare; just over 33000 units sold on launch week. Not even the power of the Dragon Quest could help spike Wii U hardware sales in its native country, and that says a lot. Again, these sales definitely makes a console release internationally out of the question. It would be a hassle for Nintendo of America & Europe to publish the game, localize its text, and maintain its servers…especially if the return isn’t going to be satisfying enough.

Here we are in late 2013…and for the first time in the franchise’s history, a PC port is heading our way fast as the result of aging Wii hardware and a poor Wii U showing. Some would say that hell has frozen over, but looking over the past paragraphs makes this evolution completely logical. First and foremost, MMOs will never hit strides with console exclusivity, as our good old friend Tim always says. Square-Enix is already bleeding money as it is, and desperate times require logical business moves. The structure of this genre fits PC like a glove as it requires the following: constant updates/patches, solid hardware, flexible OS software, and a constant internet connection with special account management and frequent logins. Consoles are relatively close platforms at the end of the day so managing MMOs and accounts through them will always prove difficult, but that looks to change with next-gen. Nonetheless, I think that the PC provides a significant advantage to Dragon Quest X and its rabid fanbase as it is arguably the biggest platform this franchise has ever been in. Additionally, the potential for localization and an international release is huge. Mark my words; it is bound to be released in English — but we’ll have to wait awhile for that to happen because Square-Enix already has an MMO planned for the end of the year: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. It’s unfair for the international audience to have both competing franchises under the same company launch simultaneously, especially since Final Fantasy has always been a bigger name in the west.

As for the game’s future on console, it looks bleak to be blunt. I don’t think Square-Enix are stupid enough to suddenly pull the plug on Wii and Wii U owners because the current fanbase is already set and solid, especially on the Wii. Japanese gamers are safe for now, but international fans shouldn’t expect too much. It all depends on Wii U hardware sales. If Nintendo successfully jump-starts the system by 2013 and early 2014, we may see a simultaneous launch of DQX on the Wii U and PC in 2014. If not, then it will remain PC-only. A PS4 release is also possible, though I guess Square-Enix will monitor Final Fantasy XIV’s sales in that platform and act from there.

A penny for your thoughts? Sound off in the comments below.

9 thoughts on “Level Up: Dragon Quest X Learns PC Ability! Let’s Discuss the Future of its Release Stateside!”

  1. That was a very good conversation we had back then. We both brought up some very good points, and pretty much exactly what we were saying came true. The title didn’t perform as well as they had hoped in some aspects, and did gang-busters in others. I think part of the problem was they released it way too late into the Wii’s lifespan to hope to achieve the same success FF XI had. Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin, the last expansion for FF XI was released on March 27th, THIS YEAR in Japan for the PS2. I mean that’s pretty damn insane when you think of it. While it’s also been available on PC since launch, the title has slowed down tremendously over the past few years outside of Japan. FF XIV was a critical and commercial failure for the company, which led to many of the financial woes the company is currently going through. A Realm Reborn hits August 27th on PC and PS3, and next year for the PS4, and by everything I’ve seen, heard, and played, this is going to be a huge success for the company. Mark my words, they aren’t going to want to launch another large-scale MMO at the same time as this one in North America or Europe. That would be the poorest business move they’ve ever made.

    Dragon Quest X hits Japanese PCs on September 26th, and I’d say it will likely stay that way for at least a year, maybe even longer. It really depends on how they go about marketing this. In North America subscription-based MMOs are a thing of the past. Even FF is doing away with traditional subscriptions in favor of MUCH cheaper alternatives. FTP (free-to-play) has taken over, and as of right now only World of Warcraft has any sort of support for the traditional model. So if Square-Enix is able to get people on-board A Ream Reborn, they’ll have to play their cards right for DQ. I’m certain there’s a market for it outside of Japan, it’s just a matter of figuring out exactly how to go about it. Do they release it only on PC here, or alongside console versions, or do they focus on console over PC?

    In North America DQ VIII sold 650,000+ copies, and IX sold 560,000+ copies. That means to launch a full-scale MMORPG of DQ here is a gamble in and of itself. I believe they’ll figure out a way to release it worldwide to maximize their profits, but it won’t be easy. FF is a much stronger brand outside of Japan, and Square-Enix’s priority is on A Realm Reborn. Take it from someone who is in the beta, they’ve put TONS of money into this. There is no way in hell they’re going to want anything to compete with it from their own company. They’ve gone so far to try and please the fans, that it would be highly foolish to even mention bringing another MMO here until FF is given a fair chance at success.

    I’m extremely curious to see what they decide to do. As a longtime fan of the series I want the opportunity to at least try X. When I saw the sales of the Wii U version I knew they were going to do something, and soon. Releasing the game on PC in Japan makes a lot of sense, as they’ll still be able to use the enhanced version, while bringing in the MMO mainstay. Let’s not forget that over 85% of the series sales come from Japan. Outside of Japan though, I think they’re best bet will be to wait until 2015 or so. They could optimize the game for PS4/One and PC in order to capitalize on the graphics-hungry market here, or they could simply leave it as is and release it only on PC. From what I’ve read about the game though it is an extremely simplistic MMO, and I’m not sure how that would appeal to the masses here. There have been so many innovations made to the genre over the years that the title may need reworking before releasing it worldwide, or they could run into the exact same problems FF XIV had. People felt the game was way too archaic in deign compared to all the other MMOs, and the new version is an entirely new game that brings some really nice innovation along with it. If they have to restructure the game though, they may not feel the end justifies the means.

    1. Great reply. Absolutely agree. If DQX ever releases internationally, it’ll be in a different format than what Japan has. From what I’ve read as well, DQX is sort of a mishmash of classic JRPG and MMO elements, although for all intents and purposes everyone sees it as an MMO. The JRPG aspects can act as the game’s catch in making it unique, but you’re right when you say they need to buff up the MMO elements, which can easily be done via patches. It doesn’t have to be a complete revamp, but the interface needs overhauling…similar to what S-E did when they localized DQVIII. Another great point you bring up is Free to Play. DQX is an excellent candidate for that. I was thinking late 2014 for release, but you’re right when you suggest 2015 because this will give significant breathing room for FFXIV. The cool thing about DQX is that it doesn’t have the same high-budget as FFXIV, which may be another aspect that will divide players depending on the old-school/new-school mindset.

      As for A Realm Reborn, for some reason I’m super excited. I’ve never played an MMO before, but this revamp looks absolutely awesome and I might just get it on PC and give it a whirl. It has this FFXII vibe to it.

      1. MMOs are a very weird genre Ahmed. Sometimes its the simple ones that stay around much longer than the overly complex and budgeted ones. It’s odd. Thus far nothing has been able to compete against the juggernaut that is World of Warcraft. It’s currently eight times more popular than its closest competitor. While WoW constantly loses subscribers, it always makes up for them when a new patch hits. That’s the secret of WoW, it has become so streamlined and casual-friendly, that at this point in time I don’t see anything taking it down until Blizzard comes up with another MMO. It’s designed as the perfect “start here” MMO. Here’s an example. Imagine you’re out questing, enjoying the storyline, when suddenly the story tells you about some dark mysterious dungeon. You want to go and explore said dungeon, but the difficulty is out of this world, because it’s designed for five players. So what do you do? Do you spam the trade channel of your main city hoping there are enough players on your server who happen to be at the exact spot you’re at, and at the same level? It used to be like that. Today there’s something called the Dungeon Finder, which allows players from all servers to get together to queue for content like this. This way you can continue to quest, while the Dungeon Finder does the work of finding the team for you. Dragon Quest features no such Finder.

        Little things like that can make your enjoyment of the game falter because do you really want to spend hours waiting before you can jump into the content you’re interested in checking out? Another problem so many MMOs run into is the end game content. You’ll hear about that a lot when you discuss MMOs. What that means is, what happens when I’ve reached max level? Most MMOs start with a hard cap of level 60. Now odds are you will have only seen one section of the game by that time, but do you want to roll an alt (another character)? Some will, but others are more interested in seeing what else is out there for their top tier character. This is where some of the biggest MMOs have collapsed. The Old Republic was supposed to be the “next big thing,” bu thanks to the lack of strong end game content, it stumbled and eventually collapsed. It went from being a highly profitable subscription-based MMO, to a free-to-play one. That’s not to say it isn’t successful, just that EA had no choice but to make it FTP because it would have died otherwise. There is still a subscription model after a certain level cap, but you get the idea.

        This is where WoW once again shows its strength, and it’s what virtually all MMOs follow. Post-game patches are what keep players coming back for more, time and time again. Here’s the scenario for you. You’ve just hit max level, but aren’t sure what’s next. In WoW you can do a wide assortment of things. You can check out the Raid content, which is essentially large dungeons with extremely complex boss mechanics that require between 10 and 25 players to down. There are scenarios, which are story-driven set pieces that require three players to tackle. There’s also Looking-for-Raid (LFR) which is a significantly easier version of the 10/25-man Raid content. There’s the Legendary quest-line to take part in as well, which eventually rewards players with the best weapon in the expansion. There are also new quests added each patch. With Mists of Pandaria patches have been getting released every 8 to 10 weeks. Every second patch brings with it an entirely new Raid tier (meaning an entirely new omega dungeon, with up to 13 bosses in it).

        If there’s one downside to the way WoW is designed, it’s that the game boils down to a giant gear grind. Everything I mentioned above is locked content based on your current item/gear level (ilvl). If your ilvl is 460, you can’t take part in the latest raid content, because it requires an ilvl of 480. LFR content drops 502 ilvl gear, while regular raids drop 522 ilvl gear. See how it all comes together? It’s how they keep players coming back for more, time and time again.

        So all that to say that both Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest have a lot of things to keep in mind if they want to play with the big boys. FF has listened to the complaints and made some major changes to help flesh out the end game content, as well as to keep things light enough for the more casual players. Tim will tell you, you need the balance or you won’t have a successful MMO. It’s not just about the gameplay, you’ve got to have a reason to keep coming back, and that’s the hardest thing for more MMOs to figure out.

        I’ll let you read all that and comment, and we’ll continue the discussion :-P

        PS – If you’re going to buy an MMO, for the love of Pete buy it on PC. Consoles just aren’t the place for them. Sure they have the power, but you’re constantly being texted while in-game, and without a keyboard it’s almost impossible to answer these people quickly. On top of that there simply aren’t enough buttons for all your skills. Sure you can have skill wheels and whatnot, but on a raid boss, good luck with that. The only way to have a successful one on console is to design it on console, for consoles. That’s the one and only way it would work.

        1. Very interesting info. I didn’t know that end-game content can make or break MMOs, but when you put it that way it makes a lot of sense. I know that Dragon Quest usually has awesome post-game content, particularly DQ9, so I’m pretty sure that they can make things right with DQX.

          Yeah, I won’t opt for the PS3 version of FFXIV. Not just because the reasons you’ve mentioned, but the PC version looks absolutely beautiful. There are side-by-side trailers, and while the PS3 version is impressive in of itself that it’s actually running well with that scope, the PC version looks a lot better. I’m happy that all versions are cross-play enable and cross-compatible so you can play with everyone and migrate your character though.

          1. Yeah end-game content can make or break an MMO. The ultimate question you have to ask yourself is this, why am I paying $15 a month to play this game for? If there’s no end content that answer disappears relatively quickly. This is where Blizzard has absolutely nailed it. Every few months brand new, “free” content is released. I put quotations because technically that’s why you’re paying $15 a month for. Other MMOs simply don’t bother with post game content, and after you finish the main game you just sit there and twiddle your thumbs.

            You’ve inspired me to write a preview article on Dragon Quest X, which I hope will shine a little light on why the game would require a very drastic overhaul should it be released in the West. It was designed from the ground up to be a perfect way to introduce Japanese children to the wonderful world of MMOs, but it’s that very fact that would almost guarantee it would be a massive failure elsewhere. You’ll find out more shortly ;)

          2. Are you going to play the beta or the Japanese PC version, Jarrod? That would make for some very interesting articles and footage since there’s practically no western coverage of it.

          3. I would love to Ahmed, but it’s quite complex. First off the online mode is locked to your IP, meaning I’d have to VPN in order for the system to think I’m in Japan. The offline introductory chapter I could play, however I’ve been reading through all the info and it may take a little time to work out all the kinks. Remember this is old-school vintage DQ meaning everything in text-based and in Japanese. I haven’t worked with Japanese in quite a while so I’m extremely rusty…to say the least. Finally there’s the issue of publishing anything on the beta is strictly against the rules, and my fake Japanese Square-Enix account could be permanently banned, which I honestly don’t care about lol. That said, I’m going to give the offline chapter a go and see what happens. I’ll be updating the site with some pretty wild stuff soon enough ;) Time to break out the Japanese-English dictionary! lol

            The great thing is you don’t need a Square-Enix account to play the offline chapter, and it shows you how the core mechanics of the game work. That should be good enough for now.

          4. Ah. Very interesting. Too bad they IP locked it. It would’ve been nice if they kept it open to everyone. Is the final release IP locked too? It shouldn’t be as long as you’re buying legit.

          5. Sadly I think the IP lock will indeed stay on once the game officially launches. I’m going to go ahead and play through the offline mode first, and then see if I can mask my IP in order to try the rest of the game. We’ll see what happens. The beta servers are sort of messed up in that they’re not always open. There’s an in-game calendar which shows which days and times are available for testing. In almost all cases the testing begins at 1AM my time, which means I sure won’t be playing for long lol.

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