When a new Dragon Quest releases in Japan, many expect millions of immediate sales, and that the country will treat it as a public holiday -- but that was far from the case with Square Enix's new MMORPG for the franchise.
Dragon Quest X debuted for Wii last week and sold only 367,000 copies, according to Media Create figures (420,000 you if go by Famitsu's numbers). That's the lowest a mainline entry for the series has sold during its opening week in recent memory.
For comparison, Dragon Quest IX sold more than 2.3 million units for the DS in just two days when it hit Japanese stores a few years ago. Other recent numbered entries moved around or over 2 million copies there, too.
That doesn't necessarily mean Dragon Quest X will be the latest subscription-based MMORPG to face serious troubles and require drastic changes, nor does it absolutely signal waning demand for a franchise that's produced hit after hit in Japan since the mid-1980s.
Another console MMORPG from Square Enix, Final Fantasy XI also posted worryingly small numbers in its first week compared to traditional releases -- only 64,000 copies instead of millions -- but monthly subscription fees, several expansions, and a dedicated fanbase helped that game become the most profitable entry in the franchise's history.
While the market has changed since that game's release a decade ago (its MMORPG sequel Final Fantasy XIV has struggled for various reasons), there are other factors to consider, too, such as consumers potentially waiting for the planned release of Dragon Quest X on Wii U.
One thing that isn't uncertain is Dragon Quest X's affect on Wii hardware sales -- though the five-year-old system has suffered a slump and a lack of blockbuster titles lately, its sales quadrupled in Japan to more than 41,000 copies last week, while all other consoles sold considerably less week-to-week.
Square Enix has not yet announced any plans to release Dragon Quest X in North America and Europe, where the series is much less popular.