Resident Evil 6 to Disappoint Fans, Will Ruin the Series
Capcom takes the “horror” out of survival/horror.
Remember the hype and hoopla for a superior Resident Evil sequel? The next game would be scary, the developers reportedly said. The franchise will be taken in a new direction, we were assured.
But now that the sixth game in the series has finally been unveiled (IGN broke the story first, but Capcom Japan made the official announcement this morning), fans are left wondering if the series will ever return to its horrifying roots.
To be fair, the debut trailer is exciting, and the confirmed release date – November 20, 2012 in America – is very encouraging. Historically, Capcom preceded new Resident Evil games with an overhyped campaign of teaser trailers and other nonsense that raises expectations so high that consumers are ultimately disappointed with the final release. Resident Evil 4 was the exception. While the game was initially designed to be a mechanical upgrade of Resident Evil: CODE Veronica, Capcom eventually scrapped those plans and started over. This postponed the sequel for more than a year. But in doing so, Capcom produced a game that not only reinvented the Resident Evil series but showed us that the franchise could evolve beyond its 32-bit origin. Over the next several months, Resident Evil 4 acquired more perfect 10s – and more Game of the Year awards – than any other game released in 2005.
The problem with Resident Evil 6 is that, while the graphics are nice (if not a little dated; the game is being developed for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC), the game seems to focus more on action and suspense than actual creepiness. This might seem like the way for a game to be developed, as there are some people in the world who don't like to be scared. But that's what Capcom's many Resident Evil offshoots were designed for. Resident Evil, however, was initially intended to scare the player, and that's what made the series so popular.
The debut trailer for Resident Evil 6 teaches us that Capcom is not only sticking with the same gameplay format of RE4 and RE5, but it is also sticking with the thrills-before-chills nonsense that turned the fifth sequel into a resounding failure. It is the only Resident Evil game that I have ever sold back to GameStop (NYSE: GME). I'm not the only one, mind you – upon selling it back (just one month after release), I saw dozens of used copies lining the shelves. And that was just one GameStop location! I imagine there were thousands (if not millions) of consumers who sold their copies worldwide.
Knowing this, Capcom has been a staunch opponent of the used game model, completely disregarding two key facts: (1) if its sequel didn't suck, we wouldn't have sold it, and (2) GameStop hands out $800 million in store credit every year. That credit goes right back into the game industry, as most consumers sell their old games to acquire new games and systems.
When used copies of Resident Evil 6 begin to line the shelves of GameStop (you'll start to see them in December, I'm sure, but there should be a huge influx in January 2013), Capcom execs will surely view this as a detriment to its prized franchise. But the only detriment I see is the fact that, after enduring a large number of complaints and hearing from consumers are who are begging the company for something scary, Capcom still won't give us a good Resident Evil sequel.
Resident Evil 5 had enough fans to ensure that Resident Evil 6 will be a success. And if five million copies is good enough for Capcom, then I guess the company gets to laugh all the way to the bank. (According to VGChartz, Resident Evil 5 sold roughly 7.5 million copies worldwide across PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. I estimate that Resident Evil 6 will lose somewhere around 25% to 30% of those buyers, bringing its sales potential down to a maximum of 5.5 million units.)
But knowing how good this franchise can be, and knowing how good it has been in the past, it is clear that the developers are making a mistake. In an effort to serve the mainstream market and produce a game that can appease Call of Duty fans, Capcom is producing a sequel that will inevitably turn off its core audience. But Capcom can't really compete with Activision (NASDAQ: ATVI). Not even Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA) can do that.
But EA can make a scarier horror game, which should truly frighten the people responsible for Resident Evil's demise.
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