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Bravely Default’s 1M copies sold reveals why it has Square Enix reconsidering its Final Fantasy strategy

Above: The characters from Bravely Default.

Image Credit: Square Enix

Square Enix’s return to its role-playing roots has paid off.

The publisher has sold 1 million copies of the 3DS RPG Bravely Default worldwide since its 2012 debut in Japan, and that is a big reason Square Enix is looking at it as the answer to what ails its huge Final Fantasy franchise. In its home country, Bravely Default reached 400,000 copies sold, Square Enix revealed to Japanese gaming site Dengeki Online (via NeoGAF). In the rest of the world, Bravely Default, which plays a lot like a classic 16-bit Final Fantasy, surpassed 600,000 copies sold. In recent months, Square Enix confessed that it got away from what made Final Fantasy popular in the first place. With Bravely Default performing nearly as well as some “real” Final Fantasy releases, the company is looking to its new RPG as a model for the future.

Bravely Default is a turn-based fantasy RPG that borrows a lot of elements from early Super Nintendo-era Square Enix games. Developer Silicon Studio, the company responsible for the Zelda-like PlayStation 3 release 3D Dot Game Heroes, set out from the beginning to make a spiritual successor to games like Final Fantasy V that first debuted in 1992. While Square Enix was confident that the game would do well in Japan, it was surprised that it went on to find an audience in the West as well. Its success is especially impressive considering it is a new property with no previous brand recognition.

All this has Square Enix examining and reconsidering its modern strategy for Final Fantasy.

“In the past, when we developed console games with a worldwide premise, and we lost our focus,” Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda said in an interview with Japanese newspaper Nikkei. ” And not only did [those releases] end up being games that weren’t for the Japanese, but they ended up being incomplete titles that weren’t even fit for a global audience.”

Matsuda didn’t give specific examples, but the main Final Fantasy games are on a downward trend in terms of sales.

While Bravely Default sold 400,000 copies in Japan without attaching itself to a popular brand, the console release Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII did about the same, according to Japanese sales-tracking site Geimin, with a bigger budget and huge name recognition. That was a revelation to Matsuda and the team at Square Enix.

“On the other hand, there are games like the JRPG [Bravely Default that] we made for the Japanese audience with the proper [and familiar] elements,” he said. “[That] ended up selling well around the world.”

In the past, it was unthinkable that an unknown game RPG could come along and sell as well as something with the Final Fantasy name. But fewer people are showing up for games in that franchise recently. While the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 release Final Fantasy XIII sold one million units on its first day in Japan, its sequel, Final Fantasy XIII-2, didn’t even reach 700,000 copies sold in its home country.

We’ve reached out to the company for worldwide sales figures, and we’ll update this story with any information.

For Square Enix, the answer to Final Fantasy’s woes is Bravely Default. The publisher is already working on Bravely Second, a sequel to Default, and it’s likely that the 3DS game which borrowed so heavily from the Final Fantasy franchise will go on to inspire future games in that series.

More information:

Square Enix squares off pretty well in the fight to be the top gamer in Japan. The company is a leading developer of video games for consoles from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, as well as for PC and mobile. Popular titles include King... read more »

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12 comments
Chris Thrasher
Chris Thrasher

The main final fantasy games are on a downtrend because you had extremely over the top story plots along with characters. The battle system itself was problematic because you keep trying to do EVERYTHING in real time. That isn't necessarily was people want when they think jrpg. Bravely Default hooked me because of it's more simplistic battle system and what I assume is good story. I don't know too much about it since I'm only a couple of hours in so far.

The thing is Square Enix...we've told you this in the past. Stop trying to grab that Call of Duty and WoW dollar.

Edoardo Fusco
Edoardo Fusco

"While Square Enix was confident that the game would do well in Japan, it was surprised that it went on to find an audience in the West as well." This is really a sign that Japanese developers can't (and won't) see what happens abroad. We're not in the '90s anymore, when JRPGs were a niche product.


"Its success is especially impressive considering it is a new property with no previous brand recognition."

I'd say this is untrue. It was largely known (in Europe at least) that this would have been a more-FFish game than FFXIII, especially since it was out in Japan many months before of course.


Thus said, Square-Enix should keep track of this: can't they see how well a "true" new Final Fantasy game could do? FFXV already looks as another modern-day stylish action game more than a classic fantasy RPG tale.

blagerthorp nonersense
blagerthorp nonersense

I have not played a Final Fantasy since FFX. I personally am not considering buying any FF titles in the long term but if they decide to make FF games like the old ones i would definitely consider buying one again. JRPGs have been bad for a while but Bravely Default is a breath of fresh air IMO.

Athan R
Athan R

I love Akahiko Yoshida's art ever since Tactics and Vagrant Story. The dude is a master with pencils/shading, design, and concept and color.

Darryl Igaya
Darryl Igaya

Good lord just give me a remastered FF:XI >:(

nobah dee
nobah dee

No brainer there, they are going back to what made them famous to begin with. More freedom of exploration, and less asiany bs (e.g. asian music, charactes, etc) will equals success.

Charles Hompesch
Charles Hompesch

I love the bias that FF is the only other series by SE. I must ask if the writer felt to ask about the Dragon Quest JRPG series? Or did DQ 9's 4 million sold even factor into getting more FF crap driven down our throats?

OC Guy
OC Guy

Beautiful game. One million sold in such a short time...on a handheld no less. I would re-consider my strategy too if I was them.

Sixty Hertz
Sixty Hertz

Yeah this is great news, i really don't get the logic behind dumping JRPGs and chasing the western market. Square got to where it was through JRPGs, why dump what got you where you are? Also FF13 was so bad it scared away most of their base, they felt betrayed, so of course the FF brand was not only tainted but it became taboo. I always thought it was an overrated brand in the first place with Dragonquest being the more consistent of the big JRPG series and the Persona series probably being the most innovative. I'm betting that FF's inconsistency over it's 20+ year lifetime didn't help it much when the big slap in the face of a "game" FF13 hit the shelves... In this business it seems you are allowed a couple of slip ups, but they can't be major smacks in the face, or else you risk losing your base...

Koitenshi Hamagashi
Koitenshi Hamagashi

@nobah dee calling it "asiany bs" doesn't make any sense....All the FF's are made by japan with Japanese chara's, Japanese produced music, ect....The only part of you comment that makes any sense is the freedom of exploration because,really, that and combat are the only two things that have seen major change since they became famous JRPG makers:p


Sampsonite Sampsonite
Sampsonite Sampsonite

@Sixty Hertz Final fantasy 12 was the first slap.  They changed the whole battle system, the very thing that carried them through all the iterations of the series.  I was a HUGE FF fanboy, all the way up to X, when the voice acting made everything kind of silly.  After that they just kept moving further and further away from me.  I didn't make it through half of 12, and refuse to play any others.  The series is ruined for me.

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