Square Enix's trend for the Dragon Quest series is to go with the flow of whatever console is popular. Dragon Quest started as a Famicom series with four games before evolving into the Super Famicom for a further three. When it became obvious the PlayStation brand was going to overtake Nintendo, Dragon Quest VII and VIII were released on Sony consoles.
Following that, Dragon Quest IX launched to great success on the Nintendo DS, and this trend collapsed magnificently when Dragon Quest X was released for the Wii and Wii U and sold pitifully compared to other games in the series. PC and smartphone builds of Dragon Quest X have given it new life, showing what Japan thinks of consoles these days. This has lead many to wonder where Dragon Quest XI might be heading if indeed smartphones are the future of gaming in Japan.
Square Enix mobile developer Takehiro Andou spoke with the series' legendary creator Yuji Horii recently in Famitsu, translated by Siliconera, about the possibilities of a proper sequel heading to smartphone. Horii did not respond positively.
"I don't think that it's as easy as it sounds," says Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii. "At the current stage, there are no talks about making Dragon Quest XI for smartphones. I believe that there's still plenty left to overcome before we release a proper sequel for smartphones."
"That's quite the bold statement," responds Andou. "On the other hand, my main battlefield lies within making games for smartphones, so a part of me tells myself 'smartphones are game consoles, too' while I work. However, going back to what you just said, I clearly understand what you mean."
"Smartphones are smartphones, and they're not game consoles," states Horii in response to Andou. "I don't think they'll be replacing game consoles, but rather, I believe it's a matter of offering something to those who only have smartphones."
Yuji Horii is the senior in this situation, and his stature at Square Enix knows no bounds. What he wants, he gets, and he does not think smartphones are a viable console for his series' future. End of story.
The Nintendo 3DS is where we will most likely be seeing Dragon Quest XI, especially since the mega-popular platform does not yet have an original game to call its own. The Dragon Quest VII remake cracked the ten best selling games of 2013 in Japan, so Square will obviously want to continue that line of success. Yuji Horii will want to take advantage of 3D in an original game.
On the other hand, older games in the series as far along as Dragon Quest VIII are being published on smartphones, building an audience Square won't be able to ignore forever. It could only be a matter of time before we see a main entry hit mobile devices. In the meantime, expect spin-offs and ports only.