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Dead Space 4 cancelled as series sales decline - report

Dead Space 4 cancelled as series sales decline - report

Tue 05 Mar 2013 11:58am GMT / 6:58am EST / 3:58am PST
Publishing

UPDATE: EA denies rumours of Dead Space's demise, remains tight-lipped on sales

EA

Visceral Games

EA Redwood Shores Studio has been renamed and rebranded Visceral Games to better reflect the studio's...

visceralgames.com

UPDATE: EA has denied that work on a fourth Dead Space game has been shelved, telling Joystiq that the rumour is "patently false". However, EA would not comment on whether Dead Space 3 has met the company's sales expectations.

"While we have not announced sales for Dead Space 3, we are proud of the game and the franchise remains an important IP to EA," a spokesman for the publisher said.

ORIGINAL STORY: Development on a fourth Dead Space game has been put on hold after Dead Space 3 failed to meet EA's sales expectations.

According to a report on Videogamer, which cites an anonymous source familiar with the project, Dead Space 4 was in pre-production at Visceral Games, supplemented by a smaller team at Visceral Montreal.

Dead Space 3's open ending certainly pointed to another sequel, but the game has failed to make the sort of impact that EA Games boss Frank Gibeau had expected. In June last year, Gibeau told CVG that around 5 million sales were necessary to justify further investment in the IP.

"Anything less than that and it becomes quite difficult financially given how expensive it is to make games and market them," he said at the time. "We feel good about that growth but we have to be very paranoid about making sure we don't change the experience so much that we lose the fanbase."

Dead Space 3 started strongly in the UK, taking the number one spot from FIFA 13 in its first week on sale. However, since then the release of AAA games like Crysis 3 and Aliens: Colonial Marines has sent it tumbling down the charts. Last week, it charted in 8th place, behind games that launched in 2012 like Far Cry 3 and Need For Speed: Most Wanted.

According to Videogamer, the decision to cancel development of Dead Space 4 was taken last month, around the same time that Visceral Montreal and several other EA studios were hit with layoffs.

So far, EA has declined to comment on the situation.

32 Comments

Daniel Hughes
Studying PhD Literary Modernism

436 496 1.1
Popular Comment
Perhaps some proof that console gamers want more than generic action games with microtransactions, who knows? It hasn't worked for Resident Evil, either. I know I won't be buying any more Mass Effect content after the direction the series has taken and I didn't bother with Dead Space 3 despite loving the first two. I don't want my science fiction opera or horror to become science fiction action; if this report is true, it's clear that many other gamers are developing the same qualms. How is it healthy for your product portfolio to repurpose everything into one broad action genre, one microtransaction focused business model? It's not. Console market stagnation will continue so long as gigantic publishers like EA use their vast resources to attempt to force a monolithic version of games onto the market. Games can be so much more than generic action blockbusters, and this, if true, I stress, could be the first example that gamers want much more than generic action blockbusters.

EDIT: I'd also like to add that in the event there are lay-offs, best of luck to those affected.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Daniel Hughes on 5th March 2013 12:29pm

Posted:A year ago

#1

Rolf Moren
Freelance Marketing Consultant

36 22 0.6
Popular Comment
Perhaps if they would actually have made a Dead Space 3 instead of that shooter thing they released, more people would have been interested. Dead Space is a smaller title with a niche audience. Dead Space 3 tried to transcend into mainstream gamers and failed. That move is always dangerous. Loosing the core audience at the same time as not picking any new players up is what happens when you overreach.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,165 948 0.8
I know quite a few people who will cry if this is true...

Posted:A year ago

#3

Pier Castonguay
Programmer

189 106 0.6
"Micro-transactions were an huge success in Dead Space 3!" Yeah right.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Jade Law
Senior concept artist

72 291 4.0
I never bought 3 because 2 was so massively confusing and disappointing, i guess i didnt expect 3 to be any better.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Craig Burkey
Software Engineer

177 274 1.5
This is sad, Dead Space 3 was a great addition to the franchise, I hoped the microtransactions would cover the shortfall in sales for this kind of naratively driven niche game.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Thomas Dolby
Project Manager / Lead Programmer

334 283 0.8
Popular Comment
This was so inevitable I can't see why they actually stuck with this plan. It was always a niche series, with a dedicated following of fans that loved the survival horror and story.

EA take this niche, take out everything that's unique about it to make it "universal", and then slap on a completely unrealistic sales target. How was this ever going to work? I feel so sorry for the guys at Visceral for ever being put in this situation, anyone with a basic knowledge of games could tell this was doomed from the start. It's just a shame this yet again clearly shows the guys at the top don't, and the people that suffer as a result are the customers and the developers.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Craig Burkey
Software Engineer

177 274 1.5
Problem is the game is a great "Dead Space" game but the marketing was focused on expanding the fanbase and that was at the detriment of the existing fans, who felt the game was moving away from them. Personally I felt it was much more like the original Dead Space, its a shame that fans were scared away by misjudged marketing

Posted:A year ago

#8

David Radd
Senior Editor

359 78 0.2
Oh man, that picture is of "that" scene from Dead Space 2 - one of the parts where I squirmed a little bit. Anyway, It'd be too bad if the series is ended like this - I know some big fans of Dead Space. Besides, games like Aliens: Colonial Marines better qualify what "bad" means in something that's supposed to be sci-fi horror. :)

Posted:A year ago

#9

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
EA only have them selves to blame for the series' decline, I personally didn't think dead space 1 was all that good but I saw a lot of potential, then EA wanted the "cod audience" and ruined it. Giving the game a messy assassins creed conspiracy story, turned it into a 3rd person shooter and Isaac goes from being an engineer to a soldier.

Posted:A year ago

#10

Steven Hodgson
Programmer

83 122 1.5
save the universe one microtransaction at a time, after a small lump fee. sounds almost like a pyramid scheme of gameplay

Posted:A year ago

#11

Patrick Williams
Medicine and Research

93 61 0.7
I felt DS2 was a better balanced game than DS3 overall, but DS3 was still an impressive piece of work. That they needed that high a threshold for sales however almost doomed it to failure from the start.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,173 1,121 0.5
*sigh*. Single player and STORY driven is how a modern horror should be since it seems that NO one can do a decent co-op experience that's not all about running around and shooting monsters 9or other players) in the grille all day. Look at the Penumbra games, Amnesia (same developer and they're awesome), less action-oriented creepers such as Dear Esther or if you have to, the Half-Life series (which at least made shooting stuff necessary for plot and survival purposes). I liked the first two DS games and the parts of 3 that were freaky, but I think if there were to be a DS4, it would need to go back to the isolation and sheer "WTF was that!" moments that made it great.

Posted:A year ago

#13

Richard Gardner
Artist

123 32 0.3
A horror franchise should remain a horror franchise, this whole concept of making it more accessible or attracting a wider audience makes me want to smash my head against a wall. Deadspace and Resident Evil have become prime examples of exactly what not to do. If your game sells 2 million copy's why do you suddenly believe changing it will allow it to sell 5 million? Why not simply scale your budget and scope based on the fact 2 million people really like your game?

Is an investment not a good investment if you double your money? Why does everything always have to be bigger, why do games budgets have to constantly grow and why do games always try to be more accessible to counter the fact they are now spending more money?

Posted:A year ago

#14

Ian Brown
IT Developer / IT Infrastructure

107 26 0.2
Thank goodness for that, now don't get me wrong I enjoyed all of the Dead Space series but its just not the same game.

The third one might as of been called Gears of Space with co op and pretty much inexhaustible ammo/health kits. The first one, while not overly scary really did manage to get across the scare factor of being alone in a dark broken ship knowing that you have little ammo only a single medkit and probably wouldn't survive a fight with more than one foe. Why get rid of that formula? Why turn it into a very nice looking (and it really is a very beautiful game) but overly boring/generic shooter? I'm playing like I play Gears where I'm running into masses of monsters dealing death. The game used to be about me trying to survive not turning Isaac Clarke into Serious Sam or Marcus Phoenix.

I used to love it when games continued series and made franchises but in the last generation or two they seem to just either lose the good parts they had and become a generic shooter/hack/slash etc. or simply don't do enough and become stale because you release one every year with probably a patches worth of multiplayer changes and a 2 hour single player story (Activision I'm looking at you).

*Spelling*

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ian Brown on 5th March 2013 6:11pm

Posted:A year ago

#15

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
What a way to drive a series into the ground. Cant people get their heads straight on the fact that not every game has to be like call of duty. The tried "call of dutying" Resident evil 4 and look at what happened there. I bet they wanted to make it a yearly franchise. Some IP benefit from taking a break. I wouldnt have minded waiting a bit longer for Dead space 3 if it meant a better game. I for one will take a good story, engaging characters and gameplay over huge graphics and set pieces.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Eric Pallavicini
Game Master

284 182 0.6
If your game sells 2 million copy's why do you suddenly believe changing it will allow it to sell 5 million? Why not simply scale your budget and scope based on the fact 2 million people really like your game?
Because... Greed is good ?
Is an investment not a good investment if you double your money? Why does everything always have to be bigger, why do games budgets have to constantly grow and why do games always try to be more accessible to counter the fact they are now spending more money?
Greed is not reasonable or wise, it is only good.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Eric Pallavicini on 5th March 2013 7:31pm

Posted:A year ago

#17

Christopher Bowen
Editor in Chief

418 580 1.4
Let's assume this is true.

The irony is twofold:

1) DS3 "failed" when they made strides to make it more mainstream.
2) 5 million sales isn't enough!? Seriously!?

Posted:A year ago

#18

Eric Pallavicini
Game Master

284 182 0.6
2) 5 million sales isn't enough!? Seriously!?
And don't forget the Microtransactions may still bring more.

Anyway, the IP's not dead yet, just spaced.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Eric Pallavicini on 5th March 2013 7:36pm

Posted:A year ago

#19

Andreia Quinta
Creative & People Photographer

215 548 2.5
It's a shame to see IP's like these trying to be everything instead of improving on what they're actually good at. You don't see Guillermo Del Toro turning his horror flicks into action to appeal to the hunger games/transformers audience.

Posted:A year ago

#20

Private
Industry

1,176 182 0.2
I loved the first one because it was a survival horror game, something that finally returned again to gaming after the disappointments that came out of recent Silent Hill games and the reinvention of the Resident Evil franchise when Capcom tried to turn the series into an action game. The second dead Space wasn`t bad, but the third one I skipped after playing the demo and seeing all the coverage. The reason wasn`t the microtransactions, but that from the Demo and what I was reading it appeared to be geared to much towards action to get target a larger group of people.

It`s their franchise and they can do with it what they want and steer it in the direction they think is right. If there is a DS4 and it follows that trend instead of returning to its roots of being a survival horror game that builds on horror and a limited amount of ammo, then I will also skip that part of the series. Thats the same reason I didn`t buy Resident Evil 5 or 6 at launch and waited until they where cheap, because while I`m kind of interested in some way what happens in the Story, I was not interested in what the gameplay turned into. If I want to play an action game there are enough game franchisees out there that I know can deliver on that and are build from the start to be action games and not turned into action games slowly while abandoning their past.

I actually have the same feeling towards Assassins Creed now after the last game going even more mainstream and turning into a one button game that has disturbingly little to do with assassinations compared to previous entries. Granted the first game was repetitive but it nailed assassinations and different ways on how to do them, but that has been removed completely from the series by now. The same as with DS, RE or SH, they got far away from what actually made the series good and stand out in the first place. I will give them another chance with AC 4, but if that does not revert back to more challenging gameplay that requires more than one button to be pressed at once with some more focus on assassinations but instead is geared towards mainstream I will not get AC games on launch after Black Flag and just pick them up cheap on sale or used at some point later.

I don`t feel any entitlement that a game series has to be like I want it and that otherwise it`s bad. It`s simply that for me if a series like Dead Space strays to far from how it was previously and tries to be something else than I`m not anymore that interested in it. I`m sure dead Space 3 isn`t a bad game it`s just not for me.

Posted:A year ago

#21

Peter Moore
Chief Operating Officer

15 94 6.3
Popular Comment
Standard, shoddy website journalism recipe, born out of a desperate need to increase click-thru rates to support advertising revenue. Fabricate a story using an "unnamed source", post it first thing in the morning, add the letters" EA" to the story (oh, and link it to micro-transactions - always a fan favourite) and then stand back and enjoy the vitriol which you turn into revenue. Rinse and repeat...

Posted:A year ago

#22

Patrick Frost
QA Project Monitor

396 195 0.5
@ Peter, I'd be interested to see if your comment is aimed at GI.biz or Videogamer.

On the other hand, claiming that all that is written here is pure venom from the community is pretty myopic. Given the update to the story I doubt many would change their comments regarding the direction of the series and the pure confusion at why EA handles the franchise as it does. If I remember correctly, EA has always seemed puzzled as to why the DS series didn't meet their projections (as it did with most of their new IP pushes at the beginning of the generation) and I think the community here are trying to give you some feedback on that.

Posted:A year ago

#23

Carl Silvers
Researcher

22 25 1.1
I very much doubt that Peter Moore has time to comment on articles on GI.biz..........I'd take the above comment with more than a pinch of salt ;)

Posted:A year ago

#24

Peter Dwyer
Games Designer/Developer

481 290 0.6
I'll be one of the ones crying if this is true! I love dead space. However, having EA put their stamp on it in the form of micro-transactions and the stupid multi-player was definitely a bad idea.

I wonder if EA will ever learn to leave well enough alone. They pretty much wreck all of their top franchises by trying to fleece the players of them. It seems that the policy at EA is "If a game does well then add extra pointless DLC and micropayments to it and drain the players wallet". Effectively they are trying to pumish the people who actually buy their games.

In the short term this may have worked for them but, long term people will simply go elsewhere. The irony is that the shift will not be gradual because they'll only notice the mass exodus when they release the next cash in in a franchise and no-one buys it!

Posted:A year ago

#25
All out accounts are verified on GamesIndustry International. We work hard to ensure no anonymous or fake accounts are in use.

Posted:A year ago

#26

Peter Moore
Chief Operating Officer

15 94 6.3
Popular Comment
Thanks Matt - yes it's me, and in answer to the question above, my comments were fairly and squarely aimed at Videogamer.My issue is not the rejection of community feedback (we get that in bucketloads all day long and we learn from it in real time), rather it was the fabrication of a story in order to generate controversy and ultimately readership.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Peter Moore on 6th March 2013 2:47pm

Posted:A year ago

#27

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,173 1,121 0.5
Welp, that was a waste of steam coming out of my earballs about this the other day. Oops (fooled, but not again, as I'm usually an overly skeptical jerk anyway about rumors) Anyway, now that DS4 is still a go, I say get it back on track as a HORROR/Sci-fi blend and drop the multiplayer unless if's truly different than other games. Give the team time to think up something that hasn't been done or hasn't been abused to death in other MP shooters (and hell, who says it HAS to be all shooting?)

Posted:A year ago

#28

Andreia Quinta
Creative & People Photographer

215 548 2.5
Well, it's always nice to see that people relevant to such companies actually read and even give feedback on articles like these.
That said, I still think you guys (EA) are terrible regarding PR, specifically towards the consumer. Even now we have Jorgensen backtracking on last week's statement claiming the media and general community miss-understood it.
While it might seem correct to do so, the general community just sees it as an attempt of insult to their intelligence, first it's one thing, now it's not quite so, playing word games with "micro-transactions" and "extensions", none of which are very clear.

While here we might see it differently and understand it better, the general gamer commenting on Joystiq or Kotaku won't see it the same way. The EA hate keeps growing (one thing after another) and EA needs to seriously start to rectify that asap since you need consumers as much as investors.


On a related note, this article just feels like an apology to EA from GI for this article.

Posted:A year ago

#29

Daniel Hughes
Studying PhD Literary Modernism

436 496 1.1
Spot on, Andreia. EA are a good business, but they're terrible when to comes to consumer service and communication.

@ Peter

Great to see you taking the time to read the feedback around a site like GI. While I'm glad this report isn't true, because a very talented studio are still in business, which is always good news in the current climate, I stand by my comments on the matter. If the returns on huge action titles like Resident Evil 6 (aware I'm talking about a Capcom title there, but I believe it helps to illustrate my point) and Dead Space 3 aren't as good as desired, and if the fan feedback around a title such as Mass Effect 3 becomes vitriolic and divisive, perhaps publishers should look at the philosophy of attempting to "mainstream" their titles. Now while console development is obviously very expensive and resource intensive, there are also a variety of pricing methods, delivery methods and business models that can now be utilised. If leveraged on a title by title basis, rather than a portfolio wide basis, then you don't need every title to be a five million selling hit. Blockbusters can remain blockbusters, and Dead Space or Resident Evil can remain a horror game. If you attach the budget, resources and expectations of a blockbuster hit to every title, rather than maintaining a portfolio with a diversity of budget, resource allocation, pricing, delivery and genre, then there naturally will be casualties and under-performance.

Posted:A year ago

#30
4 is the symbol of death in chinese/Asian culture.

Make it a Death space in all its gory horror glory!

Posted:A year ago

#31

Roland Austinat
roland austinat media productions|consulting

127 67 0.5
If you attach the budget, resources and expectations of a blockbuster hit to every title, rather than maintaining a portfolio with a diversity of budget, resource allocation, pricing, delivery and genre, then there naturally will be casualties and under-performance.
This. Thanks, Daniel.

Posted:A year ago

#32

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