You may not have noticed, but Dragon Quest 10, the MMORPG installment in the most beloved role-playing series in Japan, is approaching its first birthday. The game first came out on the Wii in August 2, 2012, with a Wii U port hitting Japanese stores in late March. An English-language release still isn't anywhere in sight, but Square Enix surprised more than a few people a week or two when it announced that a PC port is in the works.
Why put DQ10 out on PC? "I'm sure a lot of people were surprised," producer Yosuke Saito told Famitsu magazine, "but the drive to release a PC version was there from the start of DQ10 development. The biggest reason was that, when thinking about which platform was most likely to be connected to a network, the PC was the first that popped into our minds. We also live in an era where there's nearly one PC for every household, and for people who grew up with Dragon Quest, PCs have been a natural part of their entire lives. We figured it wouldn't seem unnatural."
Executive producer Yuu Miyake also brought up the more practical, financial side of running a successful MMO. "One thing I can say," he said, "looking across the series from DQ8 onward, is that the business model of creating a retail package and releasing it exclusively on a single platform has become difficult to execute. Gamers' play styles and tastes are getting segmented, and we can't settle on a single platform. We're also in an era where trying to make back development costs on a title good enough to be part of the main story is getting more difficult with the traditional business model. We have to build a new business model, one that doesn't end with a retail package being purchased. So, when we decided to have DQX be an MMORPG, it was decided it'd be available for a monthly rate. Our direction was to center the game on a console that anyone can pick up and play, then gradually expand out to other platforms."
The big question behind the PC port for us non-Japanese folk, however: Does this mean an overseas release is in the works? "Of course," Miyake said. "However, as for whether it'll be run in the Dragon Quest style in the overseas market, every nation has its own play style and sensibilities, so I don't think it'll be a single game worldwide like with Final Fantasy 11."
"This is just my personal viewpoint," added Saito, "but different countries consume their games at different speeds and the way the communities are run also differ. Even the way people enjoy seasonal events is different, so I think we need to divide the running of it by country or region. So we're thinking about having separate servers for each country."
What is Saito's ultimate aim for DQ10, whose PC port comes out in Japan this September? "In the end, I think it'd be great if we made it a place where Dragon Quest fans could come together," he replied. "We'll naturally need to continue adding new stories to tell and new bosses to defeat, but it can't just be that. We need to continue having it be a place where people who like Dragon Quest can be comfortable. I'm sure we'll have DQ11 and DQ12 going into the future, but in parallel with that, I'd like to have a world within DQ10 where we can tell stories from DQ11 and DQ12. I think it'd be great if we could keep DQ10 going for even ten or twenty years."