While all we have so far by way of information is a single screenshot, it’s looking fairly clear that Builders takes the seminal Japanese role-playing game series and applies its distinctive veneer of teardrop-shaped Slimes and adorable dragons to Minecraft‘s magical $2 billion build-stuff-out-of-pixelated-blocks formula.
Dragon Quest practically invented the console role-playing game, and is one of Japan’s biggest game franchises (you can eat at a Dragon Quest cafe and outfit yourself entirely in Slime-themed clothing should you desire), but the tail’s been wagging the dog for some time now—Dragon Quest‘s trappings have been applied to action games, music games, and now a Minecraft-like, but not so much with the actual RPGs, which are much more costly and time-intensive to make these days.
So if you’re going to chase other popular genres, why not chase Minecraft? It’s all the rage with the kids these days and it’s likely that this take on the block-building genre will do fairly well for Square Enix worldwide, which will probably cause other third-party publishers to ask themselves why they don’t have similar games in their catalogs. Sort of like how the early success of Call of Duty made every publisher believe it had to have a World War II period shooter out there somewhere.
The difference (and the reason this should give you some sort of hope for the future) is that while game publishers are always going to chase the leader, the leader now no longer has to emerge from one of their studios in the first place. Minecraft‘s ascension from indie game obscurity into the world’s most popular videogame may be a one-in-a-million shot, but you’ve got to figure the next big breakout hit from an unknown developer isn’t too far away. And years down the line it’ll be Minecraft that’s the sort of catch-all nostalgia brand, being applied to anything that seems like it might work.