Square Enix has finally spoken out on the Dragon Quest VII 3DS remake and the status of its localization in North America. The game has already been available in Japan for over a year and a half, and many fans are worried that the traditionally JRPG focused company will glance over the game given the series’ shaky performance in the West.
Siliconera managed a few words with the series’ mobile producer Noriyoshi Fujimoto at PAX Prime, and finally got some information regarding its feelings on the remake’s chances. Needless to say, despite shipping 1 million in Japan in the first week alone, he is worried about sales in relation to the heavy translation job such a huge game would require.
“In terms of DQVII, it has a lot of text to go through and translate, and we’ve received so many requests and so much positive feedback about the game, but unfortunately, we have to consider the cost and the manpower needed to handle the sheer load of text. In terms of scenario and script, the game is probably one of the largest in the DQ franchise. If a lot of people can buy it and support it… well, we can’t promise anything.”
“From Dragon Quest VIII and beyond, we’ve revamped the translation. For example, we’ve added regional twangs like those from Baltic regions sounding Russian and things like that. We’ve also updated the spells and monster names, so any classic titles we revisit, we want to say consistent. That being said, when we go back and update the classic titles, we make these changes. That’s another step in the process.”
“Going back to people who want DQVII to come out… we’ve gotten a lot of requests, we really want to do it, but right now, we need to hammer out what kind of resources we’d need to do it. We say this a lot, but, we can’t seem to get to the point where it’s justifiable.”
Fans of the original PlayStation version will remember that the game can take up to 120 hours to beat if you get caught up in all the nuances and other quests. Granted, the Nintendo 3DS streamlines all of its pacing issues into a much more edible package, but that doesn’t stop it from being one hefty translation job. Seriously, look at the script for this game!
Imagine Square Enix hiring translators to localize this beast in its own unique style and not having it pay off.
But all the while, this excuse ultimately doesn’t pay off for Square Enix because we lived through this experience not even a year ago. The company had this little RPG in Japan called Bravely Default, and its JRPG fanbase was very very vocal about bringing it stateside. However, Square Enix didn’t see the audience and ignored it for an entire year until Nintendo stepped in to aid in localizing, publishing and marketing.
Low and behold, this tiny, nameless, brand new IP became a monstrous hit. It sold 200,000 in the first month alone, breaking all kinds of records on the Nintendo 3DS for the genre and closed out the year with 1 million copies shipped worldwide, even beating out Square Enix’s heavily touted HD JRPG Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. The success forced Square Enix’s president to write an open letter, admitting the company lost focus, promising more JRPGs, and essentially owning up to Square Enix’s mistake of overlooking its audience.
It was a wonderful victory for the starving fans of the JRPG genre, who have found a comfortable home on the Nintendo 3DS…
And yet, here we are again. The crowd is once again calling and demanding for a wonderful JRPG, one that actually belongs to a franchise with an established fanbase, to be localized on the Nintendo 3DS in the West, and once again, Square Enix “can’t seem to get to the point where it’s justifiable,” forgetting that this Bravely Default episode ever happened. It’s nerve wracking and disheartening to be brushed off over and over and over, time and time again after we prove the audience does, in fact, exist.
This is a game that needs to be localized into English. I know Japanese games are not at the peak of their popularity anymore, but imagine if The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was only going to be developed in Polish and be playable on Polish PCs or if Assassin’s Creed games were only playable in French on French PCs. This is how fans of these kinds of Japanese games feel each and every time when they are overlooked, and its only exacerbated by the fact that Nintendo has region locked its hardware.
If you are a Dragon Quest fan and you want this game, get out there and make some noise! Keep it civil of course, but take to email, forums, social media, Facebook, and Twitter, and let it be known to Square Enix that Dragon Quest does have a fanbase in North America and Europe. I’d almost go so far as to say buy the new iOS ports of Dragon Quest IV and VIII to prove the point, but then again, we don’t want Square Enix to think that Dragon Quest‘s fanbase lies on smartphones.
If that were the case, the Nintendo 3DS audience would never see this game.
Not just Square Enix either. Be sure to let let Nintendo know how you feel. The last time these two collaborated to sell a Dragon Quest game in the West, Dragon Quest IX became the first in the series to break 1 million sold units outside of Japan. Granted, the Nintendo DS had a much larger user base than the 3DS does now, but still, Bravely Default proves the audience is there with the right marketing.
I’m pretty sure the units sold through that partnership would cover the cost of a team of solid translators. After all, once hackers learn how to get inside and emulate 3DS cartridges, you know there are going to be people who will do it for free.
We are at a crossroads for Japanese games’ standings in the world. Americans suffered through many instances like this during the Nintendo and Super Nintendo days, even more so for Europe, back when gaming was still young, but the popularity of the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and Nintendo DS opened the floodgates for countless Japanese games which would have never been considered “justifiable,” in years past. We can let all this progress go to waste as the Western market continues to march all over the industry like an evil giant tyrant, or we can buckle down and demand that the alarmingly shrinking number of quality games from Japan make their way stateside.
After all, how can the Japanese market regain traction when one of its biggest and most iconic companies so often overlooks the audience of the best games it makes?