‘Minecraft’ Clone Announced By Square-Enix

No, that headline isn’t a joke. Famous game studio Square-Enix has announced the latest game in the Dragon Quest series – and it’s a clone of Minecraft, according to a new report from Wired.

Dragon Quest Builders was recently announced in Japan, along with a screenshot displaying what’s fairly obviously a Minecraft-style block-based world. A character stands with a hammer atop a blocky wall, looking down upon blocky brown dirt sporting blocky green grass, covered with trees, a few monsters, and not much else. Players will, supposedly, be charged with building a ruined and depopulated world. Is this sounding familiar to any Minecraft fans yet?

As Forbes notes, Square-Enix is describing the game as a “block-make RPG” and has indicated that Builders will be set in the same world as the original Dragon Quest (an RPG series with 10 main titles and numerous spin-offs) in a nod to the retro-gaming craze we’ve been seeing lately, since indie gamers with a taste for nostalgia – including Minecraft-developer Notch – taking center stage. It could also be seen as a crafty move on their part to recall the 8-bit visuals of the original within the Minecraft-style theme.

Dragon Quest is relatively well-known among western gamers, but it’s practically a religion in Japan, with theme restaurants and a considerable line of merchandise. It started long before Square and Enix were united as Enix’s answer to Square’s Final Fantasy, and for a long time, the fanbases were diametrically-opposed; think Star Wars and Star Trek in western culture. The rivalry has calmed significantly in recent years, in no small part thanks to the merger. Meanwhile, adding Minecraft fans to the list may open a whole new can of worms. Dedicated fans of Minecraft are quick to point out the glut of games mimicking the indie hit, and a major game company trying their hand at a blatant Minecraft clone will certainly draw some ridicule.

Still, Minecraft‘s wild popularity is a sign of how far the gaming industry has come. When Dragon Quest first came out, a couple of companies controlled the entire industry and game developers usually weren’t even credited; see the story of Warren Robinett, developer of Atari’s famous Adventure, and how he had to hide his own name within the game – a move he half-expected would get him fired.

Today, the shoe is on the other foot. Notch (Markus Persson) was a single programmer, designing a game for fun, who not only sold his company to Microsoft for $2.5 billion, but is now being copied by other major companies. As the Inquisitr has previously reported, Minecraft is big business now, with MineCon 2015 (the Minecraft convention, held in London, England) setting Guinness world records as the largest convention ever held for a single game.

It’s a bit silly to see a AAA development studio try to jump on the Minecraft bandwagon, but it’s also a very promising sign of things to come.

[Image courtesy of Square-Enix]