Resident Evil 6: Is mass-market appeal really necessary?

Capcom’s direction questioned.

Posted By | On 03rd, Oct. 2012 Under Editorials | Follow This Author @KartikMdgl


This is a sort of a mini-editorial, based on the recent comments by Capcom on how they wanted Resident Evil to be an action-oriented franchise. Recently, Resident Evil 6 director Hiroyuki Kobayashi had said that the reason  they made Resident Evil action-oriented was because they needed to have that mass-market appeal. The casual audience who are easily swayed by flashy visuals and Michael Bay-type direction had to be exposed to Resident Evil as well.

“We’re making games and we need to have mass-market appeal in order to survive. How far do we go into horror before we lose the support of the average player? How far are we going to lessen the horror elements at the risk of losing core fans, including Resident Evil fans,” Kobayashi said to 1UP.

But why? See, this is the thing I don’t understand. You absolutely don’t need to do this, Capcom. You don’t need to appeal to different groups. We are talking about the Resident Evil brand here; a brand so powerful that even terrible games like Operation Racoon City manage to outperform sales expectation. Capcom can ride on Resident Evil 4’s success for a decade by just making games where the focus is on fantastic pacing, great variety, and true horror elements.

They absolutely don’t need to make it action-oriented because fans will buy a survival horror Resident Evil game. Yes, the 3DS version bombed, but considering the install base and the type of audience that bought the system, it wasn’t surprising to me. But why do they need to take such risks on the PS3 and Xbox 360 where the install base is well over 100 million? And considering the fact that Resident Evil 5 sold 5 million, shouldn’t 7 million – Capcom’s projected sales – easily achievable?

You talk about mass market, Capcom, what about all the Resident Evil movies that Sony has been releasing? Isn’t that enough for increasing the brand’s appeal? The recent Resident Evil movie sold very well (in spite of being horrible), which shows that people really like the brand. There are enough core gamers out there that will help make Resident Evil 6 sell 7 million–which is your projected figure, so why go after the casual market? Instead of spending millions on Michael Bay style set-pieces, make a game that Resident Evil 4 fans will be proud of, while spending the rest on marketing, and trust me, you don’t have to worry about anything.

What you’re doing right now is just damaging the brand a lot more. The reviews have spoken, the current direction the franchise is heading in is undesirable–both to fans and to critics. Resident Evil is your crown jewel–a franchise that you cannot experiment with, unless you want to lose the core fans that have supported it for all these years.

Kobayashi had more to say, though.

The challenge is trying to push it as close to the edge either way, so that we can satisfy both groups of people. I think we can do it, I really do like horror. I’m fine with pushing it up to 11 in terms of horror. But maybe that’s not what we can do and still be saleable.

For instance, if you have multiple scary stages, just one right after another, and you give that to a Resident Evil fan, they’ll be happy with it at first. But they’ll get inured to it after a while. It won’t be scary for them anymore. I think they would lose interest at that point.

It’s the same with casual players. They play this and it’s just too scary and they don’t want to keep going. It’s too much. It overwhelms them. In order to make and experience something that these two groups find enjoyable, you have to take a step back from that.

You can’t just bombard them with these horror elements. You have to mix in some stages that are more entertaining and fun than pure horror.

This is wrong in so many ways. I… I wonder how they came at this conclusion. Adding co-op mechanics is a step in the right direction, sure, but there are many so called ‘entertaining’ explosive action games out there; so whatever you put in Resident Evil will just look cheap and out of place. Stay true to the franchise’s roots, that’s all you need to do.

Capcom won’t listen to this, obviously. Can’t wait to see Resident Evil 7 selling 2.5 million copies–50% less than what Resident Evil 5 did. That will show them, eh? But I suppose like Square Enix’s mishandling of the Final Fantasy brand, it’s Capcom’s turn to see how fun it is to mess up.


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