Anyone who follows video games knows that action games are big — very big. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 shattered sales records far and wide in its first 24 hours on store shelves and raked in a billion dollars in well under three weeks. The American video game market loves shooting things and we love doing it in a fast-paced way.
Masachika Kawata, producer of Resident Evil: Revelations, says that’s the biggest problem with creating survival horror games today. In an interview with Gamasutra, he explained that in the US, super-creepy slower-paced games just don’t sell broadly, instead remaining confined to more of a niche market. And games that are unlikely to be blockbuster successes aren’t necessarily going to be seen as worthy of investment.
Each Resident Evil game since Resident Evil 4 has been moving more toward action, Kawata said, and the series should continue to do so:
Especially for the North American market, I think the series needs to head in that [action-oriented] direction. [Resident Evil‘s primary games] need to be an extension of the changes made in Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5.
RE4 started in that direction, and RE5 kept going in that direction. 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.
Kawata continued by saying that upcoming franchise continuation Resident Evil 6, due this November, doesn’t have to go “all the way” in that shooting, action-heavy direction, adding, “My impression is that Resident Evil 4 and 5 aren’t shooters, per se,” but that they are more action-heavy than earlier entrants in the series.
However, all hope is not lost for fans of slower, scarier games. Katawa added that Capcom still has room to explore different variations on gameplay from the main numbered series in its named spin-off games, like Revelations and Operation: Raccoon City.
So we have our numbered series, and we can say we have a more adventure-oriented version, like a Revelations-style game. And we also have Operation: Raccoon City, which is a third-person shooter.
So I think that by extending the market in this sense, we can still have the numbered titles keep their identity about what Resident Evil is supposed to be, but still expand and hit other markets as well.
Despite what Capcom knows about the market, investments and sales figures, though, Katawa insists that ultimately, the priority on any designer is to make a good, compelling game from which the rest will follow. The marketing should be different, depending on region and audience, but a good game will speak for itself anywhere in the world:
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. 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.