May, 2004 I announced that the DQ Shrine had landed an interview
with SquareEnix. Since the American Enix fans had been upset with
the merger results, I wanted our visitors to have a better understanding
of the company. Four months later I'm very sorry to say that the
interview has fallen through. I wish to sincerely apologize to our
visitors. Many of you were anxiously awaiting answers to what was
happening to your favorite series. I've put countless hours into
the Shrine to make you, the fans, happy. I wanted the site to not
only have something for everyone but to present the most accurate
information since rumors run rampant. I am extremely upset with
how SquareEnix has treated me these past four months.
At E3 I spoke to Monica
Bouldin, the former Senior Vice President of Ruder Finn's LA office.
They are SquareEnix of America's Public Relations firm. The job
of a PR firm is to create a favorable and positive public image
for a company. In my work I have dealt with many PR people. They
have their own agendas, which is why I'm cautious of them. I'd heard
many good comments about Ms. Bouldin and was given great information
by her in the past. I'd like to thank Ms. Bouldin for all of her
help. She went above and beyond to try and get answers to the interview.
I had eight questions
about the Dragon Quest franchise. They weren't your typical interview
questions, but were what the fans had been asking since the merger.
In summary they were, how does SquareEnix of America choose their
titles? Why is SquareEnix passing on DQ titles? Why specifically
was DQ V denied? Why specifically was Slime Morimori denied? Does
SquareEnix of America share the goal of SquareEnix of Japan to for
DQ to have a stronger US presence? Why does SquareEnix not communicate
with its fans? Since many fans were upset with DQ IV, will the title
appear on another platform? And finally, what does an American DQ
fan have to do to see their favorite games in English? Understandably,
the questions were too corporate for someone from PR to handle.
So I was going to speak to SquareEnix's Kyoko Yamashita. Time became
a factor and instead of directly speaking to Ms. Yamashita I was
to e-mail the questions for her to answer later.
It was no problem since
I understand how busy employees are at E3. After I returned home
I got a call from Ms. Bouldin saying I hadn't been forgotten and
would expect a response after Memorial Day weekend. The date came
and went with no response. After several follow ups I wondered why
it was taking so long to answer eight questions. Many times I made
it clear that I was happy to resend anything or make up aspects
typical for a larger media outlet. I was assured that everything
was fine. I was never pushy. I understand how busy SquareEnix employees
are and certainly didn't want to be rude. I was told that I would
expect a response after the July 4th holiday. Still nothing.
Eventually I was told
that the reason for the delay was due to the company's restructure.
Again I was told to expect a response soon. Ms. Bouldin was great
in checking up and speedy replies. Since it was taking so long she
put my interview as a weekly task. In August I received an e-mail
saying that she'd taken another job and Ms. Yamashita had recently
left the company. She also informed me that SquareEnix had lost
the interview. At this point I was annoyed with the process. I was
given the indication that the questions had passed approval in Japan.
The details whether it was lost in the approval process or by the
American office was not clear. Regardless, I promptly resent the
Ms. Bouldin didn't want
to leave me hanging so she sent my questions to Felice Wu (now known
as Felice V. Wu) to answer. Ms. Wu was currently handling SquareEnix's
internal PR. She also gave me the names of the two Ruder Finn employees
taking her place. Unsure on how eager the two Ruder Finn employees
would be to help, I chose to contact Ms. Wu directly. After receiving
the questions Ms. Wu said she would look over them but would be
traveling. After weeks without a response I sent a follow up. After
all, it had now been four months since the interview was initially
sent. Her response was, "Ahh, crap, no one responded to you?!"
It struck me as odd since she was the one that was supposed to answer
She told me she would
check on it and I received a response from Doug Schneider from Ruder
Finn. Remember when I stated that I'm cautious of PR? The message
said, "we're unable to get any answers to your questions on
Dragon Quest in the US at this time. We'll keep you posted if we
get any info at all, and feel free to stay in touch on the subject."
It was insulting and unbelievable that I got this sort of response
from someone who never had any intention of contacting me. I doubt
that he even knew what my questions were. I can smell a PR Blow
Off and this reeked of it. I responded to Mr. Schneider and Ms.
Wu. I politely explained the situation, how the fans feel that SquareEnix
doesn't appreciate their business and how ridiculous it was to take
so long to respond to eight simple questions. I wasn't surprised
that I didn't even get a Read Receipt back. If the SquareEnix employees
didn't know or had no intention on answering I should have been
told back in May instead of wasting four months of my time. Most
importantly, it wasted the time of the fans that had anticipated
this interview and were given false hope that after nearly two years
they were finally going to get some answers.
Now it comes down to
the question, "Does SquareEnix care about the American Dragon
Quest audience?" Fans are angry and upset that there are still
no DQ titles in the lineup. SquareEnix president Youchi Wada has
expressed how much he wants DQ in the US but the American office
doesn't seem to share that goal. I was probably the last fan to
give the company the benefit of the doubt. I was even willing to
offer my services to help promote the DQ brand. Does SquareEnix
of America care about DQ? Given the results and speaking to many
SquareEnix employees in person, I would say no. Most know little
or nothing about the franchise. Their customer service branch ignores
every DQ e-mail received. In fact Ryan Riley, the Customer Service
Supervisor, told me himself that the e-mails do not warrant a reply.
It seems that DQ is only a contractually obligated mention at the
bottom of their press releases with Final Fantasy as their top titles.
Even the president of their new mobile division said that DQ I Mobile
was given to them for development but were unsure if it would see
an actual release. Nearly two years after a major corporate merger,
the American office still shows no sign of doing anything with their
If they feel that Dragon
Quest isn't worth localization, they should ask any of the former
Enix of America employees. Despite rumors, they'll tell you how
successful the titles were. The fans shouldn't be treated like they're
stupid. After all, it's you who are the first to purchase the games.
I know the fans want real answers and not empty PR. Many of you
have been loyal since 1989 and your business should matter to them.
You deserve to know what's going to happen to your favorite series.
My intention for this article is to only state the facts on my experience
with them. SquareEnix has many talented artists, designers, programmers
and localization staff that work hard to deliver fantastic products.
It's just a shame that the PR branch can be so rude and waste four
months of my time by not answering something that wouldn't have
taken fifteen minutes. From such an established and successful company,
I expected them to act more professional.
Since many of you have
asked, here is the full list of questions I proposed to SquareEnix.
1: How does SquareEnix
choose their titles for the upcoming year? What makes a title worthy
2: Dragon Quest
has a large fan base in America. Behind Final Fantasy and Kingdom
Hearts it's possibly SquareEnix's third most popular franchise.
In 2003 the fans were upset. Now they're downright angry. It was
assumed that after the merger SquareEnix was going to continue Enix
of America's plan. There have been five Dragon Quest titles released
since the merger. Why is SquareEnix passing Dragon Quest titles?
3: Dragon Quest
V for the PS2 hits a nerve with American fans since localization
on the Super Famicom original was canceled in 1992. Now it seems
that the US has been denied this title the second time around. Why
did SquareEnix pass on Dragon Quest V?
4: Slime Morimori
for the GBA seemed like a shoe in with its colorful cast and creative
game play. Why did SquareEnix pass on Slime Morimori?
5: In various
press events and in their company plan, SquareEnix of Japan has
expressed how much they want Dragon Quest to be a major franchise
along with Final Fantasy in America. Does SquareEnix of America
share this goal and if so will the franchise be rebuilt from Dragon
Quest VIII, Dragon Quest I Mobile or the two Dragon Quest titles
in development for the Nintendo DS?
6: Enix fans were
spoiled in a way where we had a company that listened to and communicated
with the fans. After the merger, why was there no moderator at the
Enix forums? Why does SquareEnix not communicate with the fans (forums,
Q&A, etc.) outside of general press releases?
7: Just to make
the die-hard fans happy, are there any plans (past, present or future)
to release Dragon Quest IV for the PSOne in any form (stand alone,
part of an anthology, PS2 port, etc.)?
8: Lastly, American
Dragon Quest fans are having a hard time right now. What does an
English speaking Dragon Quest fan have to do to see their favorite
titles in English?