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Why is Dragon Quest X an MMO?

Dragon Quest IX was a single player game that, at last count, has sold well over 4 million copies in Japan. Dragon Quest X is an MMORPG that has only sold close to 600,000 copies so far. Understandably, some have questioned Square Enix’s decision to make the latest game an online-only multiplayer game.

The answer to why Square made Dragon Quest X an MMO is simple. Final Fantasy XI, Square Enix’s last successful MMO, has earned the company nearly 40 billion yen ($484.7 million) in its ten years of operation. That’s about 4 billion yen ($48.4 million) in revenue per year from a single game.

“People said a lot of things about FFXI when it came out in 2002,” Square Enix president, Yoichi Wada, recalls. “At a time when game consoles were still at their peak, we needed to exceed 2 million units to be considered a success in the [Final Fantasy] series.”

However, Square Enix’s initial shipment of Final Fantasy XI was a mere 120,000 copies. Ten years later, though, Final Fantasy XI is the most profitable game in the entire series, owing to its monthly subscription fee.

“While the early stages were used to recover costs, this title eventually contributed greatly to the overall revenue scheme in the latter half of its lifespan, and proved that MMORPG has a sustainable capacity over a long duration,” Wada said during a Square Enix financial results briefing.

The same, Wada added, will hold true for Dragon Quest X. The game’s initial development costs were recorded this year, so next year is when Square Enix expect to see a surge in revenue from Dragon Quest X subscriptions, as well as from Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

As previously reported, Dragon Quest X has over 400,000 paying subscribers as of October, a feat which it achieved in just two months. In comparison, it took Final Fantasy XI 18 months to reach 400,000 subscribers.

Dragon Quest X is currently only available for the Wii, but will also be available for the Wii U starting in Spring 2013. Meanwhile, Square Enix are continuing to publish single-player Dragon Quest games as well, as evidenced by the Nintendo 3DS remake of Dragon Quest VII.


Final Fantasy XIV's rebirth delayed development of other Square-Enix games

The failure of Final Fantasy XIV had a huge effect on Square Enix and the damage wasn’t limited to the company’s bottom line. "The unsuccessful launch of FFXIV caused a negative chain of events in other areas across the businesses. One notable example is the significant delay in the development of new HD games titles in Japan. As a result, our major releases of HD game titles use IPs previously developed by Eidos Interactive, and are sold mainly in Europe and North America," said Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada.

That explains why the Japanese side has been so quiet recently. We heard about other projects in Square Enix Japan’s lineup like Catacombs, which is probably canceled now, and that Unreal action RPG Square Enix was hiring for.