Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle released on western mobile app stores in 2015. Since the release, many Dragon Ball fans have put in hours of time playing through the game and creating their perfect party to take into battle.
DualShockers had the chance to sit down with Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle producer Toshitaka Tachibana (or “Toshi” for short) and talk about the mobile game market and the future of Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle.
Azario Lopez: Being a free-to-play mobile title, how did you approach that model with Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle?
Toshitaka Tachibana: Actually, we are still constantly trying to work that out and constantly think about. We feel that we still haven’t gotten the perfect balance, but I think we’ve narrowed it down to giving all players the same opportunities.
AL: Fans have said that the free-to-play model is “fair” in Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle: is that something you are trying to accomplish?
TT: Of course, we want to make sure that everyone feels that it’s fair and if other people have an advantage, then it’s not something that is specific to them paying money. “Fair” is definitely the key word.
AL: Launching the game in 2015, it’s been out for 2 years now: were there ever any doubts about how the western market would approach this title?
TT: In terms of reception, we were really hoping that we released the app at the right time, considering how Dragon Ball Super was coming along and the hype generated around an official Dragon Ball Z smartphone app. We were sort of worried about whether it would spread out because the genre is an entirely new one to the series, because you immediately think of an action-oriented game, or a fighting game. We were really trying to bring a game that nobody has ever tried before.
AL: There’s now a Japanese and a western version. However, the Japanese version usually receives updates first, with the western version taking a couple months to receive the update. Are there plans to perhaps close this time gap in the future?
TT: We are definitely trying to close the gap, but also take it on a different path. It will potentially be something that players outside of Japan will play Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle and not feel like they are at a disadvantage. We hope to provide a service that is different.
AL: Could you explain this approach a little more?n
TT: Not in too much detail right now, but I guess an example would be when we released Broly in May. We hope that will be a hint as to what’s to come first for the version outside of Japan.
AL: Coming into the second year of Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle in the west, what are the team’s goals for the future?
TT: Right now we want to make sure that everyone who is still playing Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle feels like they are appreciated, and anyone who comes in as a new player feels like they are in a position to comfortably still catch up.
AL: Now that the game has a western audience, how does Bandai Namco make sure that the content is what Japanese players want, but also what western players are asking for?
TT: We try to even it out and think about every region. We really try to take feedback for all regions and not just one.
AL: Are there any differences between eastern and western gamers that you see?
TT: One thing would be favorite characters — Japanese players love strong characters as opposed to western players, who prefer characters that are newly-released and in the anime series.
AL: What do you feel players find fun about the gameplay in Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle?
TT: I feel like it’s the experience where players feel they are getting better at a slow rate, such as when Goku was in training in the story and then finally defeating a seemingly impossible opponent, and then moving on to another so that they can prove they have the strongest party.
AL: With more and more mobile games being released, how does Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle stay relevant in the market?
TT: That is something we’d like to know too [laughs]. All we can do is what other apps did right and what we can do better and try to implement that in a natural way as much as possible.
AL: Being a mobile game with 180 million downloads, how do you keep these players coming back?
TT: We try to give players constant updates, something that fixes what they felt could be better. Also, we add characters at relevant timing, like when they are appearing in Dragon Ball Super. This is so players are heated up for the characters for the situations and stories.