Square Enix is a massive company. It’s not just the fact that they are comprised of Japan’s two biggest RPG companies, but this property also includes Eidos and Taito properties. They swallowed them up at a later date, making the company even bigger. This is all to say there are a lot of franchises underneath Square Enix’s watch.
What has made them the most money? It’s hard to tell exact numbers but these are as close as possible to determine that answer. Some fan favorite series that didn’t make the cut are Bravely Default, Deus Ex, Parasite Eve, and Vagrant Story.
10 Space Invaders
Space Invaders started its franchise in 1978 in arcades and has sold about 2M units. This is one of those series that never truly goes away. Even though it doesn’t sell that well it makes enough to justify ports or new but smaller games. The last game released was Space Invaders Forever in 2020.
9 Legacy Of Kain
Legacy of Kain started its franchise in 1996 for PC and PS1 and has sold about 3M units. The last game officially to come out was Legacy of Kain: Defiance in 2003 which was during the PS2 generation. There have been many canceled projects since then like the multiplayer only PC game, Nosgoth, which was canceled after a short beta. The world will be ready for vampire games again someday.
Drakengard started its franchise in 2003 for the PS2 and has sold about 5M units. The last game, Drakengard 3, released in 2013 on PS3. It has been trapped on that console ever since. It should be mentioned that these sales include Nier, which is a spinoff of Drakengard. Technically this series has a new game coming out this year via Nier: Replicant even though it’s just a remaster.
7 Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger started its franchise in 1995 for the SNES and has sold about 5M units. Two games hardly makes a franchise but there was actually a second game most don’t know about in this Chrono series. Radical Dreamers was a digital only release on the Japanese Super Nintendo’s, or Super Famicom, Satellaview plug and play service.
It released in 1996 as a visual novel and serves as the basis for what would become Chrono Cross in 1999 for Japan and year later for North America. There was also a copyright from Square Enix for Chrono Break but whatever that project was it was canceled or it seemingly never got off the ground floor.
SaGA started its franchise in 1989 for the Game Boy and has sold about 10M units. This actually began as a Final Fantasy spinoff in the West called The Final Fantasy Legend in 1990. All three Game Boy games would be labeled like this and the first true SaGa game released here that stayed true to the name was SaGa Frontier on PS1. Coincidentally that will also be the most recent release as a remaster is coming sometime this year.
Mana started its franchise in 1991 for the Game Boy and has sold about 12M units. This also started as a Final Fantasy spinoff, Final Fantasy Adventure, but unlike the SaGa franchise, this game was also referred to under the Final Fantasy banner. The next game, Secret of Mana on SNES, is where the Mana series really began. The latest game was actually a remake of the third entry, Trials of Mana, which launched last year.
4 Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts started its franchise in 2002 for the PS2 and has sold about 32M units. That’s a big leap in terms of franchise sales but it just goes to show how powerful a brand Disney is. The latest game was Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory which released last year. The overall release schedule has been all over the place with remasters and spinoffs galore but Kingdom Hearts still hasn’t lost its fans yet almost two decades later.
3 Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider started its franchise in 1996 for the PS1 and has sold about 81M units. The last game was Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 2018.
The team may be on a break for awhile seeing as how Square Enix was not happy with most sales of the recent trilogy. They were considered good by most companies but not enough for Square Enix for whatever reason. Lara Croft always comes back though so no need to worry. It’s just a question of when and not if.
2 Dragon Quest
Dragon Quest started its franchise in 1986 for the NES and has sold about 82M units. The latest game will be Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai Infinity Strash which is releasing sometime this year on an unknown number of platforms. It’s based on a manga that started in 1989 and ran for thirty-seven volumes, which consists of over three hundred chapters. There was also an anime adaptation which ran considerably shorter. Dragon Quest overall is the king of Japanese RPGs plain and simple.
1 Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy started its franchise in 1987 for the NES and has sold about 159M units. Dragon Quest may be the king in Japan, but Final Fantasy has, and probably always will be, the poster child for Japanese RPGs globally. The latest game, Final Fantasy XVI, is set to debut this year. With the delays that have happened already it’s hard to believe it will make it out in 2021 but fans are crossing their fingers on this one.