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Resident Evil producer calls survival horror market too "small"

Resident Evil: Revelations producer Masachika Kawata explains why the main RE games have become action-oriented

Capcom has revealed that the Resident Evil titles have become more action-oriented because the survival horror market is too small for the series. While Resident Evil: Revelations for 3DS partially returned to the franchise's roots, the main installments are more focused on action gameplay. Resident Evil: Revelations producer Masachika Kawata told Gamasutra that he expected Resident Evil 6 to continue the trend started with Resident Evil 4.

"RE4 started in that direction, and RE5 kept going in that direction," he said. "And I think that especially for the North American market, we need to keep going in that direction, and take that a step further. And that's exactly one of the reasons that Revelations is the way it is," he said.

Kawata compared the sales of survival horror games to action games like Call of Duty and Gears of War.

"Looking at the marketing data [for survival horror games] ... the market is small, compared to the number of units Call of Duty and all those action games sell. A 'survival horror' Resident Evil doesn't seem like it'd be able to sell those kind of numbers," he said.

Though Japan has been struggling to sell games with a worldwide appeal, Kawata believes good games will always shine through and it's up to marketing to tailor itself to different regions.

"If you're going to be selling a game based on its good gameplay, then you don't have to worry about the market in which it will be sold. If we're going to make games that sell based on quality content, they should be able to appeal around the world," said Kawata. "That might be obvious, but that's why Grand Theft Auto IV, Skyrim and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare also sell in Japan, because their gameplay is interesting."

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Latest comments (14)

Survival horror can be great as a niche. It just needs all the right keynotes to sell and sell and sell and then some.
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Private Industry 9 years ago
"Looking at the marketing data [for survival horror games] ... the market is small, compared to the number of units Call of Duty and all those action games sell. A 'survival horror' Resident Evil doesn't seem like it'd be able to sell those kind of numbers,"

No other game franchiese is able to sell those kind of number that CoD has.

I have a crazy theory why survival horror games don`t sell huge anymore, because the games for it that come out are not very good. Alone in the Dark was basically killed by the last game, Silent Hill went downhill in all aspects, gameplay, story, atmosphere and music. The last game I could finish without any problem while the first 3 games still scare the crap out of me.

I`m sure the 3 Resident Evil PS1 games sold well, what came after them was either not that great i.e. Resident Evil Outbreak or unlucky to be released on a platform that didn`t had that many users and especially not exactly a high amount of Resident Evil fans aka GameCube. Why they moved their games to a bad selling kids friendly console instead of going with the PS2 where their fanbase was is still beyond me. Yes Resident Evil 4 sold good, but that wasn`t Resident Evil anymore without puzzles, no scary moments and not even Zombies. A good old shool Resident Evil game on PS2 would have outsold Resident Evil 4 from day one without a problem.

I would buy a real Resident Evil for home consoles in an instant, Resident Evil 6 I will see how that turns out. No matter how action packed they make Resident Evil they will never sell nearly as much as CoD anyway. Good luck with the November release date for Resident Evil 6 and pushing it so strongly on the 360 where the people will be bussy playing Halo 4 while kicking the PS3 owners in the nuts with not releasing a demo 2 months after 360. It`s kind of clear what way Resident Evil 6 will go and how valued the user base is that once support their games.

I wanted to buy Code Veronica, but it`s basically the worst HD conversion out there and Capcom puts a 20 euro price tag on it when for the same price I can get as example the very very well done Ico and Shadow of the Colossus HD remake, the full Sly Racoon trilogy is 13 euro or 39 for the just released Jack and Daxter trilogy that includes 3 very well done HD conversions and Splinter Cell trilogy is 29. I could go on, but I guess people get the picture that 20 euro for a single badly done HD conversion is far fetched just as far fetched as 30 euro for on disc extra characters as "DLC", buuut that`s a different story. :)

Btw. Dead Space is a Survival Horror game and that sells quite well.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 23rd March 2012 8:02pm

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They just need to do a Dust to Dawn meets 28 Days later horror romp. Make it Adult Only and give it some David Cage flavour :)
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Show all comments (14)
Private Industry 9 years ago
Anything is better than a what they are doing. Resident Evil 7 FPS. There are so many ways of keeping the old formula of you know being scary have good puzzles and adapt it to modern gameplay, but no they throw everything out of the window to make it edgy and get a younger crowed on bord.

I play Resident Evil since it came out when I was not really supposed to play it. I played most of them Resident Evil 3 I even had the Japanese version imported that I didn`t understand at all to play because localization back in the days took ages. Veronica I had on the DC, then I played the GCN games followed by Resi 5 and it just isn`t Resident Evil anymore (didn`t play the 3DS game or Operation Racoon City). It`s Capcoms choice of what they do with their games because they have the IP and they make the games and I don`t say they have to di what I think so it`s not about entitelment, but for me personaly Resident Evil turned into that what the players where fighting against a monster and an abomination of what it was once before it got infected and all twisted.

I loved the old Resident Evil games and it`s a bit sad to see what became of this once great franchise and I enjoy currently replaying the old PS1 games. Sure the gameplay mechanics and controlls are horrible, but even I see how the main formula can be adapted to modern game design and gameplay and keeping the good stuff intact making it more action-y without completely abandoning what the series was about and have equal parts of fan service and getting a new user base on board. The only part I enjoyed and remember from Resi5 is when you discover the Umbrealla base and fight against something that at least resembles the lickers. It`s like turning Forza or GT into an arcade kart racing game that tries to go up against Mario Kart.

I would love to win in the lottery get a lot of money and prove them wrong that survival horror games can sell if done good, either that or spending all the money to finance Shenmue3.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 24th March 2012 4:03am

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Richard Gardner Artist, Crytek9 years ago
I find opinions like this very frustrating to read, although its not a direct comparison comedy and horror are the two best selling genres of the movie industry. Although understandable its a different market and not a direct comparison. There is obviously a hunger out there for people who want to laugh and be scared.

Each genre of games has its own pie, some bigger and smaller based on global sales, but within each genre's pie are brands and each brand is broken up into slices. As an example Call of Duty owns around 70% of the first person shooter pie with Battlefield around 35%. This leaves all other first person shooters in the remaining 5%.

If your game is not profitable with the remaining slice of pie then you are in for a big shock. Although Capcom probably understand this its more a comment on the whole industry. People seem to think they can release a first person shooter and get the sales of Call of Duty.... you can't. Its close to impossible.

Now coming back to my first comment, just take a look at all the genre pies and find out which one is lacking a dominate brand. You will quickly find that you can in fact be more profitable in a smaller pie simply because there is less competition and more guarantee of profitability. Not to mention by dominating that pie you establish yourself as a consistent brand and in essence build the genres demand based on your dominance and success.

But anyway, that's my opinion on the whole 'lets make an action game' feeling that seems to be plaguing our industry. I also hate this narrow minded attitude of throwing money at something large instead of establishing yourself in smaller chunks. At the end of the day if your doubling your money on smaller establishing shots its just as profitable if you was to throw 100million on something and make 200million on a 4 year development.

But anyway, I'm rambling. But as you can see as a developer and consumer the whole topic is fairly frustrating.
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Private Industry 9 years ago
I agree with you there. Unless they do something great I wont get the game when it comes out because I`m sure there will be a lot great games during the holidays season as always. I will get my Survival Horro fix from The Last of Us that showed a lot more promise in the very short trailer than the Resident Evil 6 trailer.

If they go all action I don`t see why I should get that game instead of other games that where always action as by now the story has turned into a big mess and while I enjoy coop from time to time I never play coop on my first playtroughs so I can go at my pace and partner AI in the last one wasn`t very bright. Not sure if they make the AI this time better. In 5 it was like they didn`t put that much effort into it and where thinking it`s not that important people will play coop anyway. If 6 continues this trend and can`t offer anything unique that makes it more survival or at least a bit horror the series is dead for me. I can play many other action shooters and I`m not going to buy it just on it`s name if it can`t deliver anything that made the series once so great.
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Antony Johnston Writer & Narrative Designer 9 years ago
I love survival horror -- SH2 remains one of my favourite games ever -- but I agree with Werner that part of the problem is simply many horror games these days simply aren't very good, with poor narrative and a reliance on gore/gotcha instead of tension/disturbance.

I think it's telling that one of the best recent survival horrors is AMNESIA, a resolutely indie PC title. And that speaks to the issue, which Richard implied, of budget. Part of the reason so many comedy and horror movies are made is that they're very cheap to produce compared to a big blockbuster movie. They don't need to be huge hits to make money.

Of course, that's a lesson that could stand to be learnt by many devs these days, not just those making horror games. But it makes the point quite well. People who love horror movies don't care about billion-dollar whizbang CGI, and people who love horror games don't care about billion-polygon whizbang graphics.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Antony Johnston on 24th March 2012 4:01pm

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Private Industry 9 years ago
I heard Amnesia would be very scary, didn`t try it out yet.

It`s also sad to see that the Silent Hill HD remakes don`t seem to be too good with the change of voice actors, change/removal of cutscenes and a lackluster HD transition that removes a lot of the fog. :/

It`s a shame, I think I need to replay again Forbidden Siren.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 24th March 2012 9:46pm

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We should just kickstarter a cross collab between different studios/artist and show how survivor horror can be done well, on a shoestring in our spare time :)
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 9 years ago
Werner you really ought to try Amnesia, when it first came out on Steam I started playing it, I still haven't completed it. :')

There needs to be more 'actual survival horror titles', not action/horror in my opinion.

I still prefer the old Resident Evils, call me oldschool if you will. Anyway back to Nemesis for me! :)
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Robert Mac-Donald Game Designer, Lethe Games9 years ago
Every genre going after Call of Duty's audience

Now this is a scary trend
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Ian Brown IT Developer / IT Infrastructure 9 years ago
I'd actually love a survival horror game to be just that, a game that has a drive in making the player feel vulnerable and scared/tense at the same time. The first Silent Hill did it for me, with the static from the radio slowly getting louder, the constant darkness and the fact that you could be killed very quickly made it for me. The sequel, whilst good lost that same tension. Deadspace almost got a similar feeling but then threw it out the window with a sequel that was more of on action game than a survival game. Darksouls while not scary is much more of a survival game than anything else i've played recently. The feeling of uncertainty while walking down dark caverns with my mind going crazy thinking of what i'll meet and if i'll be killed in an instant. Key here is vulnerability.
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Private Industry 9 years ago
I`m getting onto the game design right away chee :D
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Jeremie Sinic9 years ago
Totally agree. Amnesia is the last survival horror title I have seen. Right now I am waiting eagerly for my copy of Silent Hill HD collection... how sad.

I thought Resident Evil 1 and 2 worked well because of the fixed camera angles that usually didn't let the player see the zombies as character entered a room. Simple trick but so effective!

In current games there are too many monsters to be scared anymore. It's no more survival horror but rather hack and slash or action/horror. See Alan Wake: it's a wonderful game (that I would still recommend) in so many aspects but it's not really scary unfortunately.
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