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Feature: Resident Evil Producer 'Not Too Concerned' About Series Diversification
Feature: Resident Evil Producer 'Not Too Concerned' About Series Diversification
October 7, 2011 | By Staff

October 7, 2011 | By Staff
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    9 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



As part of Gamasutra's latest feature, Resident Evil producer Masachika Kawata talked about Operation Raccoon City and Revelations, two upcoming titles in the series.

He noted the way in which the series is currently branching off as a brand to encompass different types of games, and suggested that, if every title focused on survival horror, "people would be really sick of Resident Evil."

"At the core, basically, we want to make the best use of our brand," he explained. "Resident Evil is an IP, and a franchise, that people have loved for a long time."

"It's still very, very popular and we're very, very happy about that, and we want to basically answer all the requests that we get about the series. People want to see a lot of different experiences within the Resident Evil universe, and so we've been fortunate enough to be able to answer those requests with a lot of different experiences, in different forms, in games.

When asked whether he's worried about the brand becoming diluted, he answered, "I'm not too concerned about that, for the simple reason that all these different Resident Evil games that are coming out are focused on very different things."

"I'm thinking that if we would have brought out all these Resident Evil titles, and they were all focused on survival horror, absolutely I think people would be really sick of Resident Evil."

He continued, "In my mind, we've got this online shooter game, we've got other things like Mercenaries that are even more action-focused, and some other games. And by going in a lot of different directions, I'm pretty confident that people are going to still be enjoying Resident Evil for a long time."

The full feature, which focuses on both upcoming titles, is live now on Gamasutra.


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Comments


Chris OKeefe
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Resident Evil 5 was... well I shouldn't call it terrible but I didn't finish it and I was disappointed. I hadn't played Resident Evil since the very first game and purchased Resident Evil 5 expecting a similar sort of experience. Could not have possibly been more wrong. Maybe I am not exactly the target audience for them. But it seems to me that people play games within a specific series to experience iterations of the same basic concept. Not because they have an attachment to the logo.



I think that heads of companies sometimes misunderstand their audience's attachment to their brand. Resident Evil is not just a name. When people think of Resident Evil they immediately have certain ideas and concepts which are strongly associated with that series. To take the IP and do something different with it can be a big risk.



Take Splinter Cell: Conviction, for example. It was not a bad game, but it was so much of a departure from earlier games in the series that there was a backlash against it amongst fans of the series. You only need to look at User vs Outlet ratings on various aggregate sites(metacritic). Only Ubisoft could say whether it turned out to be worthwhile.



Resident Evil 5 seemed to be in a similar boat. I talked to two differents kinds of people (anecdotally); people who were fans of Resident Evil as a franchise and felt that RE5 was disappointing, and people who had no special attachment to the franchise and thought the game was good(nobody I spoke with thought it was great).



It seems strange to take a franchise that is often described as the 'greatest survival horror' and turn it into a mediocre Something Else. Why not continue to try to surpass yourself and push the survival horror genre forward, and if you really want to make a different kind of game set in the same setting, distinguish it as something other than an iteration on the series? Branding can be very important as it sets expectations. Unfortunately branding can also be misused to capture sales from customers who think they are paying for something altogether different. I won't be so cynical as to say that they did this intentionally, but the result is the same; fans expecting one thing get something else, and can resent the developer for it.

Fiore Iantosca
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I don't know who you talked to, but the sales speak for themselves. I'm of RE fan, and I loved RE5 and I liked what they did with the series. I'm actually playing it again with a friend, who never played any RE5 series and he loves it. He remarked about the "tank controls" but by the 2nd chapter he was used to them and it doesn't even enter his mind anymore.



The game sold very well so I don't think Capcom is going to move away from it that much. The reason people keep buying these RE games is exactly because many of the previous characters people grew up with are still in them, and potential for new characters, like Sheva in RE5.



Capcom did do something new in this game, they made it Co-Op. No other RE game previously had online co-op.

Chris OKeefe
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Duke Nukem Forever also sold well, but I doubt you'd see many repeat sales for a third game. ;)



Sales don't always translate to approval. And anecdotes being what they are, don't show an emperical or statistical relevance(which is why I pointed it out, and why I'm pointing it out for you as well).



However aggregate sites seem to show user approval of RE5, so you're probably right. I can only go by the people I spoke with, and my own opinion. Which is thus: If I want a good zombie-related cooperative experience there are many other games available that provide that(L4D 1&2, Dead Island, Dead Rising 2) and honestly do a much, much better job of it. If I want a good survival horror I pretty much have to travel back in time. Which is a shame.

Eric Kwan
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I think that if you simply keep iterating on the same game, your IP ends up stagnating, so it's important to try to create new experiences around what boils down to core concepts for your brand. For me, when I think of RE, I come up with the following core concepts:

1. Zombies

2. Limited mobility

3. Limited ammo



I'm sure there are more things, but those are just the firs three that come to mind, and I feel like RE5 did a respectable job incorporating those.

Luis Guimaraes
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Resident Evil: 1/2



1. Go into creepy places with mindless mosters;

2. Take time to get comfortable in that creepy place;

3. Be forced to leave comfort behind into the next unknown area;

4. Be helpless, chased by the last boss that seems to use steroids, and always comes back if you manage to survive him;

5. Survive the horror.



Resident Evil: 5



1. Steamroll a dozen enemies;

2. Steamroll a hundred enemies;

3. Steamroll a thousand enemies;

4. Use steroids, than chase the helpless last boss and, if he manages to survive you, you always come back;

5. Save the world.

evan c
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I wish that you asked about why they won't confirm shafting the PSP version.

Chris OKeefe
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"I think that if you simply keep iterating on the same game, your IP ends up stagnating, so it's important to try to create new experiences around what boils down to core concepts for your brand. For me, when I think of RE, I come up with the following core concepts:

1. Zombies

2. Limited mobility

3. Limited ammo"



I think there's some truth to that, but I deeply suspect it's only true in a matter of degrees. Obviously if you release the same game over and over with only minor changes, people can get bored of it. But different genres and different concepts have their own inherent longevity as well. For example, sports games have been itereated upon countless times and still sell enormously well. The basic jRPG hasn't changed a whole lot either in over a decade, because ultimately people aren't playing for the game mechanics itself, but for the story, characters, atmosphere, and exploration.



Now it may just come down to the fact that different people playing the original Resident Evil took different things out of it - which would make sense, as games that do very well often appeal to different demographics in different ways. I am taking it is as some proof of the matter that your list of core concepts that Resident Evil boils down to, just flat out doesn't resemble mine at all. You approach it from an angle of gameplay mechanics, whereas I approach it from an atmosphere/environment angle. I would describe the game first and foremost as being suspenseful, and secondly as being more of a puzzle game than a shooter.



So perhaps by branching off they are appealing to a different portion of their playerbase. Perhaps even the larger portion.

Eric Kwan
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Yeah. And it could very well be that their list of core concepts is completely unlike either of ours.

Cordero W
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Left 4 Dead is scarier than RE5.


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