Dragon Quest fans are ecstatic about the chance to finally play Dragon Quest Builders in English. Now that Square Enix is throwing a little more weight behind the long-beloved franchise, localizing several other games in the franchise as well, many are wondering if it has the chance to make a longer lasting impact on the North American gaming industry.
Of course, it probably won’t. The series has been cursed to forever perform badly in North America after the NES originals came out too late and skipped the Super Nintendo generation entirely. My generation was denied that anchor that we can’t latch happy memories onto like the Japanese fans can, and those who found the series during its brief flickerings in North America have either been too old to see it with innocent eyes or not have it around long enough to take hold as a mainstay of their hobby.
Plus, the piled on frustrations of a Dragon Quest fan is not something everyone wants to deal with either.
Still, even if Dragon Quest VII or Dragon Quest Heroes fails to sell properly, could Dragon Quest Builders have a chance? Sure, it is riding on the coat tails of Minecraft, but Mojang’s phenomenal hit has somewhat implanted itself as “the game of a generation,” the future nostalgic hit that fans will look back on and smile. Super Mario Bros. or the 16/32-bit JRPGs all come to mind when thinking about Minecraft’s place in history.
You would think that at least a fraction of these Minecraft players will want to try out something that looks like their beloved game, right? Dragon Quest Builders offers more than the typical knock-off with a Dragon Quest story, Dragon Quest monsters, and a Dragon Quest world. At the expense of the freedoms that Minecraft players enjoy, it offers an original spin on the formula that might interest those who have already come to love Minecraft.
Even look at the numbers! 107 million players have downloaded Minecraft to date. A good many of those are from China and, of course, Japan, but it we’re looking at North American and Europe, a mere 2-5 percent of the Minecraft audience buying Dragon Quest Builders would make it the best-selling game in the franchise outside of Japan. Currently, that title belongs to Dragon Quest IX, the only one which managed to break 1 million copies in the non-Japanese speaking world.
With proper marketing and reaching out to the Minecraft fans, that number seems obtainable. From there, if this long-shot actually works, maybe some would like to check out Dragon Quest VII or Dragon Quest XI when it launches next year. Maybe Dragon Quest Builders will latch on as a nostalgic sub-favorite of the Minecraft-generation, forever giving the name Dragon Quest a special meaning the hearts of this new generation of gamers.
Of course, and this is a huge long-shot, but maybe Dragon Quest Builders could give Dragon Quest the kind of long-term success in North America and Europe that the actual games could not. It could happen…
For now, let’s just enjoy the similarities. Flip through the gallery above and see if you can spot the differences between Dragon Quest Builders and Minecraft. It’s not too hard, but the similarities are a little too uncanny for fans of both franchises.