Why Resident Evil isn’t scary anymore

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RE6

One of the biggest complaints levied against Capcom’s recently released survival horror balls-to-the-wall action game Resident Evil 6 is that it crams too much in to a single game, trying to appeal to everybody; ultimately resulting in a sloppy, incohesive mess. Producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi says that the removal of the series traditional elements was to help sell the game to a wider audience.

"I believe you can do it – you can make a horror game with mass appeal," Hirabayashi said to 1Up. "I think you can create a really great form of horror entertainment, but if [Resident Evil 6] were the quintessential horror entertainment, it might not have mass appeal. It’ll have very niche appeal, unfortunately."

This confuses me. The Resident Evil games – notably the original 3 – were critically and commercially successful games that helped make “PlayStation” a household name. It already has mass appeal, just based on the name. That’s pretty evident from the stellar sales of spin-off title Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City; a title that sold millions of copies in spite of negative reviews.

"We’re making games and we need to have mass-market appeal in order to survive. It becomes an issue of tracking one way or the other. 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?”

In essence, Capcom stripped everything that makes Resident Evil Resident Evil in order to pander to the COD crowd – in the hopes that it’ll somehow sell as much as those titles. In truth, the millions of sales the game will get will largely be from old-school Resident Evil fans, who’ll pick it up in the hope that they see something – some faint spark of what made Resident Evil so damned good. And then they’ll cry in to their bowls of cereal the next morning.

"Where’s the Venn diagram that shows the happy medium of those things? 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. personally speaking, I really do like horror. I like it as a genre. 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 some reference, little indie horror Amnesia: the Dark Descent has sold over a million copies on just the PC platform – and that’s without any sort of marketing budget at all. With Capcom’s PR and marketing budgets and the power of the Resident Evil name, I’m pretty confident they could sell the hell out of an actual survival horror Resident Evil.

Read  Dead Rising developers Capcom Vancouver are closing down

I’m less confident that they’re capable of making one.

Last Updated: October 3, 2012

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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