JRPG fans everywhere have been eagerly awaiting for new bits of information regarding the upcoming Dragon Quest XII: Flames of Fate.
Dragon Quest XII will be the latest installment in Square Enix’s longest running RPG series, and while Dragon Quest isn’t as popular on Western territories as other JRPG franchises, its fanbase has grown considerably over the last decade.
Dragon Quest XII: The Flames of Fate Coming Sooner Than Expected?
Reports flooded the internet yesterday claiming that Square Enix had trademarked the phrase “The Flames of Fate” this month. It is not unusual for companies to trademark names or phrases ahead of releasing a game, but this move could hint at DQXII being further along in development than we might have previously thought.
Square Enix has kept information about Dragon Quest XII: The Flames of Fate under-wraps since its announcement. Apart from Square Enix’s CEO,Yosuke Matsuda, stating that Dragon Quest XII will change the way that the series plays for the next two decades, we haven’t learned much about the game itself.
The publisher/developer is serious about making big changes to the Dragon Quest franchise in order to make it more attractive to global audiences. Square/Enix featured a poll a few months ago where fans could go to their site and express their opinions on Dragon Quest, including the direction they would like to see the franchise to go in the future.
Dragon Quest is Remains Popular in Japan, but Trails Other RPG Franchises on the West
Over the last decade, Square Enix has made efforts in modernizing the series visually, without ditching its turn-based combat system. As a result, Dragon Quest XI is about as good as the series has gotten under the same basic format of gameplay (though it has been improved and made more accessible) that has carried the day for the last 2-3 decades.
Given that Dragon Quest has largely thrived on sustaining and slowly growing its fan base over the last 35 years, I wouldn’t out right assume that the series is going “Action” based in terms of combat in its next entry. Final Fantasy made the change in Final Fantasy XV, and the franchise has stuck to it (FFXVI will be action-based), but Final Fantasy was always the daring, more commercial driven and forward thinking franchise out of the two.
It seems that Square Enix wants Dragon Quest to experience similar levels of success with its next entry. Dragon Quest XI sold 6.5 million units across its numerous versions on all platforms since 2017. These are good numbers, but it is likely that Final Fantasy VII Remake sold close to the same number within a year in just a single platform.
By contrast, Final Fantasy XV has sold about 9 million units since its release on 2016 without a Switch or 3DS version (DQXI had major console versions coupled with 3DS, and Nintendo Switch counterparts). Final Fantasy is bigger than Dragon Quest, as it has been since the 1990s, but given the rise in game development costs if Dragon Quest wants to remain a AAA franchise it needs to soar to new heights.
On a related note, a new IP in Sony’s Horizon Zero Dawn sold 10 million units while confined to single platform (PS4) from 2017-2019. Given FXVI’s bolder, darker and some what westernized take, it is safe to assume that Square Enix has noticed the industry trends, but they must thread the line between ‘new’ and ‘traditional’ carefully with DQXII.
Many RPG gamers bought DQXI because it remained one of the final bastions of ‘AAA’ turn-based JRPG gaming in a sea of action based RPGs. It will be interesting to see how Square Enix handles DQXII given Matsuda’s comments on the game and the future of the franchise:
Dragon Quest XII is being developed taking into account the next 10 to 20 years of the Dragon Quest series. There are parts that remain consistent with the traditional image of Dragon Quest, but new elements are also necessary. After all, as a brand we always need to innovate.” – Yosuke Matsuda
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