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Japan Only: The Latest Chapter In Square Enix’s Saga of Betrayal
I honestly don’t know what I expected. I do it to myself every time. I’m scrolling through my Twitter feed, looking through a seemingly endless flurry of basketball tweets, and I stumble across a tweet from Wario64: “Dragon Quest VIII announced for 3DS.” My hands froze up and my heart started pounding. One of my favorite games ever coming to a handheld? This is awesome! I clicked on the link provided to be brought to a site that didn’t have one shred of English. My heart sank. I backed out of the aforementioned web site and started scrolling Twitter again to be met by the tweet that, by now, I knew was coming. “Dragon Quest VIII for 3DS is Japan Only.”
I’m a realist. I understand that money is and forever shall be the deciding factor in terms of what does and doesn’t make its way over here. For as much of a realist as I may be, I am, first and foremost, a fan. As a fan, this sucks. I wrote months ago about Square Enix’s uphill battle to win fans back. Rabid fan loyalty has kept their brand strong for so long. Trailers for Final Fantasy XV look to be bringing new and exciting ideas to a stagnant franchise. The release of Type-0, although not a juggernaut in terms of its reception, was a game that never would have made its way to the west years ago, but Square Enix had been seeming to change their tune.
It would appear the publisher has been shaking off its fear off commitment little by little. This Dragon Quest VIII announcement is a brutal reminder that nothing has really changed. It was a reminder of the shameful trolling at Playstation Experience, showing the Final Fantasy VII logo, only to tell us that the Steam version is making its way to PlayStation 4. It was a reminder that Dragon Quest X will never make its way to the US. It was a reminder that we haven’t seen a proper installment in the Valkyrie Profile franchise since the masterpiece that was Valkyrie Profile 2. It was a reminder that we’ve been fed countless mediocre Kingdom Hearts titles in hopes that we forget that we’ve been waiting for Kingdom Hearts III for ten years now. It was a reminder that Square Enix just isn’t what it used to be.
Looking at a company like Atlus excites me as a video game fan, but bums me out as a Square Enix fan. Their constant dedication to fan service and undying commitment to franchise growth is the template for what Square Enix could be doing with their most celebrated franchises. Square Enix’s role as a big-time publisher has taken them away from what made them truly great. They were once at the forefront of ambition and creativity in video games. Now, with franchises such as Deus Ex and Tomb Raider—to be fair, both franchises I adore—the JRPG space just isn’t that important anymore. They are, for better or worse, trying to create an empire greater than that of their past. The only problem is the past is suffering because of it.
The biggest issue wasn’t so much that I can’t play Dragon Quest VIII again. A few cables in and out of my TV and I can have my PlayStation 2 copy booted up in no time. The issue is that countless numbers of gamers from generations old and new are being robbed of playing one of the very best the genre has to offer. Square Enix’s business strategies are far beyond anyone of my educational background or expertise. You have to make money. In order to make money, sacrifices have be made. Since their merger in 2003, and most notably since their recent rise up the ranks as a publisher for other third party developers, Square Enix has been a force in the industry not to be taken lightly.
My criticism comes from a place of love. Love for nostalgia. Love for the franchises that seemed doomed to be forgotten. All I want is for Square Enix to commit to the preservation of the franchises that made them great. I made my commitment to them years ago and haven’t wavered since. All I’m asking is for them to do the same.