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.