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Your Voice Matters: How Fans Revived Final Fantasy Type-0 for the West (and Maybe Dragon Quest VII as Well)

Fan feedback has had a major impact on Square Enix's desire to release their games in the west. Here's what happened.

Interview by Kat Bailey, .

Hajime Tabata positively glowed when Jeremy and I walked in for our Final Fantasy Type-0 HD interview on the first day of PAX Prime. Wearing casual clothing and smiling broadly, Final Fantasy Type-0's director stood and warmly thanked us for a piece Jeremy had written about the game at last year's Tokyo Game Show.

"After you guys posted that article, we started to receive a lot of inquiries at Square Enix, and I started to directly hear our fans' voices," Tabata explained. "Without that, and without the influx of demands and requests that we received, this probably would have never happened. And it's because of the fans being vocal about wanting this overseas that it was easier to convince [Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda]. The entire Type-0 development team was also fully onboard to deliver this, and that's how we were able to bring it over to next-gen devices. I'm very appreciative of that."

Tabata's words represent the culmination of a longstanding push to get Final Fantasy Type-0 published here in the U.S. Fans have been pining for a localized release of Type-0 HD ever since it was released to strong reviews back in late 2011; and though the chances of a western release dimmed as the months passed, it remained on the top of many fans' wishlist. The reaction to the piece was indicative of the pent-up demand that had persisted for more than two years at that point.

Before Square Enix made it official, rumors of a localized release popped up seemingly every other day. One of my favorites was was that Square Enix had a slightly modified version ready to go for the Vita, but that it had been nixed due to not having enough new content. Such rumors persisted for a year or two, then faded until E3 2014, when Square Enix announced Final Fantasy Type-0 HD seemingly out of the blue.

The main takeaway regarding Square Enix's change of heart is that fan feedback can sometimes be what tips the scales toward a game getting made. As Tabata explained back in his interview with USgamer in 2013, "[Type-0's localization] is in the final stages of consideration. It's definitely the direction that we want to go in. Nothing is absolutely concrete right now with release dates or anything like that. But it's definitely something that we want to do. Really, the primary motivation behind wanting to release the whole experience would be all the support and passion and enthusiasm of the North American and European gaming community that has reached out to us and asked for it. I feel very thankful, very grateful for that enthusiasm."

Ultimately, Tabata got the support that he needed from fans, giving him proof that demand for the game existed in the U.S. and elsewhere. It proved just enough for Square Enix, desperate for its core franchises to remain relevant abroad, to restart the project.

"Without that [article], and without the influx of demands and requests that we received, [Final Fantasy Type-0 HD] probably would have never happened" - Hajime Tabata, Final Fantasy Type-0 Director

Elsewhere within Square Enix, such feedback also has the potential to revive another much-requested release. North American fans have been asking for the Dragon Quest VII on the Nintendo 3DS to be localized ever since it was first announced back in October 2012, but both Square Enix and Nintendo have remained troublingly silent on the matter up until this point. The desire is there, says mobile producer Noriyoshi Fujimoto, but "unfortunately everything is still under consideration and to be determined."

Square Enix has heard the fans, though. In discussing the demand for Dragon Quest VII, executive producer Yuu Miyake goes so far as to hold up a printout of one letter: "This petition came from France, written in Japanese, asking, 'Is there any way you would consider it?' We hear the fans, and we're paying attention. We had actually given up on the idea of localization altogether, but because there's such a great response we're trying to rethink this, to see if there's any way to make this more feasible. We're recalculating, and figuring out the costs necessary. Trying to work out the details."

Unfortunately, the equation is complicated by the fact that Dragon Quest has long struggled to gain traction in western markets, with even the most popular releases being relatively niche successes in comparison to Final Fantasy. Fujimoto acknowledges as much when he says, "If there was any secret to bridging that hurdle between the Japanese and U.S. market, we would love to know what it is. What I'm expecting with these releases on mobile platforms is... if this were a console game, we'd be taking a lot of risk on a single title. But with these being mobile games, we're releasing them in succession, with multiple titles in a short span of time. We're hoping that'll create momentum and get people interested in, make more people aware of the brand."

Miyake adds: "It is a reality that the Dragon Quest series is created with Japan and Japanese consumers in mind, and because it's recognized over there we have a flow of creating titles. We have the main-numbered titles and then we have the various spin-offs. We can create them, and each iteration will be received fairly well. We can do it at a fairly nice pace. But when we think about localization, when we think about having to translate all the text—unfortunately, it doesn't go as smoothly. We have to think about costs and manpower. So again, we hope with the mobile versions and the multiple titles, it'll create a flow and keep more titles going. Being in the digital space makes it more possible for us to adopt our current release strategy. Also, we already have a basis here—there's an original console version we're working off of for these games."

Where have you gone, Dragon Quest VII? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

The time and effort it takes to localize a game as expansive as Dragon Quest makes it a tougher sell than even a spinoff like Final Fantasy Type-0, which is apt to have a larger core of diehard Final Fantasy fans to draw from. Add in the fact that creator Yuji Horii also has to be involved, further complicating timing and scheduling, and the cost-benefit analysis starts to skew heavily against localizing Dragon Quest.

Such difficulties are a reminder of how much more difficult it is for Japanese games to get localized in the wake of the bottom falling out of development there, which has prompted many studios to turn their gaze inward. For every Operation Rainfall, there has been a Valkyria Chronicles 3 or 7th Dragon that has fallen between the cracks, seemingly destined to never see the light of day in the west. If Nintendo hadn't picked up the slack with Dragon Quest IX and the Nintendo DS remakes of Dragon Quests IV, V, and VI, they would have likely been lost as well, depriving English speakers of an opportunity to finally play Dragon Quest V in their native language.

In light of such difficulties, it's easy for western fans to feel helpless in trying to secure a domestic release for their favorite game. But as we've just seen with Final Fantasy Type-0, and perhaps Dragon Quest as well, your voice matters. Writing in, tweeting, and generally making yourself heard as much as possible is what gives creators like Tabata the ammunition they need to convince executives to greenlight a western release. Even if the project has been long dead, as in the case of Final Fantasy Type-0 and seemingly Dragon Quest VII as well, feedback can occasionally be enough to revive a project. Even large publishers like Square Enix often have a hard time ignoring the steady thrum of consumer demand. After all, they are a business. If the market demands it, they will find a way to supply it. Well, usually.

So go ahead and pat yourselves on the back. Thanks to your efforts, Final Fantasy Type-0 will finally be getting a much-deserved western release, and Dragon Quest VII might not be far behind. As dark as things might seem at times, you still have the power to turn things around if you're willing to make yourself heard. No matter what, that should never be forgotten.

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Comments 24

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  • Avatar for Spooky-Toast #1 Spooky-Toast 4 years ago
    Love to hear the impact of fan reactions. Now I'm pulling that the recent Castlevania retrospective lights a similar fire under Konami to revive our 2D adventuring!
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  • Avatar for himuradrew #2 himuradrew 4 years ago
    While I'm kind of happy that Final Fantasy Type-0 is getting a Western release, I'm kind of surprised that Squenix didn't just translate the PSP version and make it available for the PS Vita. I mean, if they really wanted to, they could've just asked the fan translation community for help - it's no secret that there already exists an English translation for the game anyways. Besides, Type-0 was after all built for portable play anyways...Edited September 2014 by himuradrew
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  • Avatar for himuradrew #3 himuradrew 4 years ago
    Oh and Square really needs to bring 3DS version of DQ7 to the US. That game is a classic.

    And as an addendum, I wonder if Sega would listen to the fans and bring over Valkyria Chronicles 3 in English. ;)
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  • Avatar for hal9k #4 hal9k 4 years ago
    Despite the problems with DQ sales in the US, I've always been surprised that DQ10 wasn't localized for WiiU. I think the biggest problem with that system was how sparse releases were for it in its first year on the market, and bringing DQ10 over really could've made a difference - it would've been pretty unique and gotten a lot of attention.
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #5 cldmstrsn 4 years ago
    Oh man don't even mention Dragon Quest VII. I have been wanting that game for so long. I've been trying not to think about it in case it ever makes it here.
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  • Avatar for SargeSmash #6 SargeSmash 4 years ago
    I dare not get my hopes up on Dragon Quest VII. I'd really love to play a remade version of it.

    I still remember buying the game back in the day, after the long, long hiatus the series took here in the States. I was stoked. Of course, after that intro, I thought I'd been ripped off, but as the game got going, it became an instant classic in my mind. There's something addicting about the smaller, contained quests that lead to reviving the world one piece at a time. It worked for Soul Blazer and Terranigma, and it works here, too.
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  • Avatar for SargeSmash #7 SargeSmash 4 years ago
    @andrewjameschua87 : That would be good. Of course, if you're willing, there is a fan translation out there for it now.
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  • Avatar for Stealth20k #8 Stealth20k 4 years ago
    I email Square every week.
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  • Avatar for sdhero #9 sdhero 4 years ago
    I bought the original PSX version of "Dragon Warrior VII" when it was released here in 2001, and I have a lot of fond memories of the game. It has some truly great gameplay, and it's probably the best version of the DQ class system. It has this Shepherd class with numerous useful abilities, including a "Call Sheep" command that either results in massive damage to the enemies from stampeding sheep, or nothing at all if they don't decide to come. It's that sort of goofy brilliance that I've always thought is in some ways the cornerstone of DQ's aesthetic. Obviously I would love to see the 3DS version of DQ VII released here, hope SE finds a way to make it happen.
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  • Avatar for Stealth20k #10 Stealth20k 4 years ago
    The mobile ports are absolute crap. That is not a way to build a fanbase.
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  • Avatar for Lord-Bob-Bree #11 Lord-Bob-Bree 4 years ago
    @SargeSmash I really like that aspect of DQVII as well. While it somewhat segments up the game into separate containers, it also built the world up I feel.

    Really hope the remake does get here (though I'm not sure I have the time for it now...)
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  • Avatar for EnderTZero #12 EnderTZero 4 years ago
    So is it time to talk about the FFV and FFVI ports or no? Because seriously, if that mess took away Matrix Software releases on the DS/3DS for good, I will probably pout for a long time, I guess.

    Also, has Matrix spun itself off to full-mobile development? That might be part of the problem, SE having a sort of Wormtongue pulling them into cash-grab iOS ports...
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  • Avatar for SigurdVolsung #13 SigurdVolsung 4 years ago
    I still own and love my PS1 version of Dragon Quest VII. But after those masterful remakes of IV, V, and VI on DS. I am clamoring for a similar release of DQ VII. I can't wait to own and play Type-0. But DQ VII might even be the larger release for me. That game is so massive and fun to just grind all the different classes. My save file for DQ IX is 375 hours, and for VII it would be similar.
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #14 touchofkiel 4 years ago
    If we don't get the DQVII remake, the least they could do is release it on PSN via PS1 Classics. I won't even mind if they charge that "Square Enix tax."

    But hey, if fan voices matter, I'm just gonna say it now: FFXII HD remake for Vita. My desire for that pretty much overrides any other game.
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  • Avatar for Wolf-Beoulve #15 Wolf-Beoulve 4 years ago
    http://m.neogaf.com/showthread.php?t=887459

    People are starting a Twitter campaign and I think we can all help.
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  • Avatar for hal9k #16 hal9k 4 years ago
    @touchofkiel I'll second that FF12 remake - as long as we're wishing, I'd love to see the International Zodiac Job System version. It sounds like it directly addressed every issue I had with the game.
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  • Avatar for SargeSmash #17 SargeSmash 4 years ago
    @SigurdVolsung : Wowza. I didn't put nearly that time into DQIX. But it's also a game that, if you get lost in the little sidequests, one could very much put all that time in.

    I'm not sure, structurally, if DQVII lends itself well to that, though. It took me a little over 93 hours to finish back in the day. I didn't do everything, but pretty close. But the PSX version definitely didn't have all the little side quests and grottoes and such to keep it going, so I'd probably guess my playtime would max out at 100, potentially less if they've rebalanced the game a little bit.
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  • Avatar for SigurdVolsung #18 SigurdVolsung 4 years ago
    @SargeSmash Actually DQ IX very much lends itself to that kind of time investment due to all the different Grotto diving maps, all the legendary maps, and then the massive amount of crafting that you do post game. I don't think any of that would be added to DQ VII. However, to actually master every class for every character, that was about my estimate. I've never actually accomplished that in the old DQ VII, but I did in DQ IX and that's how long it took.
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  • Avatar for Tristessa #19 Tristessa 4 years ago
    Oh, the wonderful dream of the US someday getting the 3DS release of Dragon Quest VII...

    I did recently buy the PS version but haven't started it in hopes of news that the remake was coming to the west.
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  • Avatar for Blitzmann #20 Blitzmann 4 years ago
    @jeremy.parish have you heard any whispers about a Dragon Quest Slime Mori Mori 3 localization? Also, thanks for this great news!Edited 2 times. Last edited September 2014 by Blitzmann
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  • Avatar for bernardoelmoullek37 #21 bernardoelmoullek37 4 years ago
    As we’re speaking, an online petition requesting the localization of Dragon Quest VII for 3DS and Dragon Quest X for Wii U, called “Operation Hero”, has already gathered more than 3000 signatures.
    • http://chn.ge/1q5yhdJ
    • http://operationrainfall.com/2014/07/09/campaign-hub-operation-hero-dragon-quest/
    • https://www.facebook.com/pages/Operation-Hero/324420011042007
    If all gamers unite, we can convince SquareEnix to bring Dragon Quest VII to the West!
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  • Avatar for SpoonyBardOL #22 SpoonyBardOL 3 years ago
    The one enduring memory from Dragon Warrior VII on PSX that I have is the fact that in one of the bonus dungeons you got to beat up God, and then invite Him to go live in your town whereupon you can spar with Him whenever you want.

    The second most enduring memory I have from that game is the 120 HOURS I sunk into it to get to that point. I think it's the most I've ever spent on a JRPG, with Persona 4 and Xenoblade coming in second at around 90 hours each. The time spent on that game was bonkers.
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #23 touchofkiel 3 years ago
    What else can I say? Dragon Quest VII 3D would be a rare day-1 purchase for me. As would Type 0 on the Vita, but I guess that's never happening.

    And FFXII HD (on Vita!) while we're at it.
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  • Avatar for AlltheNeSWorldCups #24 AlltheNeSWorldCups 3 years ago
    @touchofkiel I almost beat that game twice. Im Captain Bosche!!!
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