Capcom Titles Underperform
Anyone who has followed Capcom sales figures will be no stranger to seeing their sales figures falling well short of the mark. Sales estimates of the poorly received DmC were seen to make several embarrassing revisions downward, and still managed to miss the revised sales estimates. This week some very interesting sales information was made available to us by Capcom courtesy of their investor information section on their website. The website lists Capcom’s platinum titles, which is how they refer to any Capcom title which sells in excess of one million copies.
First up we are able to see what happens when a glossy third person action horror franchise transforms itself into a grimy first person horror game, which takes pains to present itself as an indy horror spoopy house simulator. After seeing the game being played to completion it is not fair to dismiss Resident Evil 7 as just another spoopy house sim, but that is the overwhelming impression that it gives off upon first inspection. Moreover, even if the title did not turn out to look so low budget, Resident Evil 7 nonetheless drastically changed up the series formula in a less mass market direction.
The lack of co-op alone was always going to effect the game’s sales, and Capcom seems to have been aware of this as they had projected that the game would sell 4 million units, which is conservative by series standards. The initial release of Resident Evil 4 sold 4 million on PS2 and GameCube, Resident Evil 5 sold 7.2 million units [this figure excludes the PC and subsequent releases], and Resident Evil 6 sold 6.8 million units [again excluding the PC and subsequent releases]. In its first three months of release Resident Evil 7 has sold 3.5 million units on PS4, Xbone, and PC, which places it neck-and-neck alongside the initial PS1 release of Resident Evil 3. Obviously Resident Evil 7 will go on to surpass the initial release of Resident Evil 3, and it will probably do the same to the initial release of Resident Evil 4, but presumably not by an especially wide margin. That is to say that Resident Evil 7 continues the series downward slide since the high point of Resident Evil 5. Capcom has gone on to predict that Resident Evil 7 will go on to sell a further 2 million units this year, which seems more than a tad unrealistic outside of extremely deep cuts in price.
One final point of interest is that Dead Rising 4 which released in December of last year as an Xbone timed exclusive has failed to find a place among Capcom’s platiinum sellers. Dead Rising 3 sold 2.3 million units and Capcom had predicted that Dead Rising 4 would sell 2 million units, yet it has failed to sell half of that, meaning that the series is probably dead. Capcom has released no official information on the game’s sales, but VGChartz places its sales at 640,000 which is pretty embarrassing if true. Do not be surprised to see Capcom Vancouver go under within the next two years. Useless hipsters.
Atlus Apologises for Threatening Customers
Lusipurr.com is the industry blog that Japanese developers read! A couple of weeks ago Lusipurr.com blew the doors off of Atlus’ bid to threaten streamers, and thanks in large part to our intervention Atlus has had a change of heart!
“We also want to apologize to those of you who saw the previous guidelines blog post as threatening. We want to be transparent about what we do, and the reason we released the guidelines was to give streamers the right information up front. It was never our intention to threaten people with copyright strikes, but we clearly chose the wrong tone for how to communicate this.”
Welp… It sure sounded like a threat! In all fairness, if one chose to interpret Atlus USA’s previous statement with charity, then it would be possible to imagine that the tools of Youtube content enforcement are under control of Atlus Japan, while responsibility for warning streamers about content restrictions lay with Atlus USA. If this were the case then the person writing the press release would have been delivering a legit warning about something that was out of their control, rather than attempting to coerce their customers – that being said, motive counts for very little when the result is all the same. Regardless of any of this Atlus Japan was incredibly shitty for abusing the fair use rights of their customers in the first place.
While there is no making up for their initial anti-consumer stance, Atlus are at least trying to mitigate the harm they have caused by scaling their content restriction demands way back to the simple request that people not stream the game’s end section.
“To our surprise, we then saw numerous reactive news articles go up, opinion videos post, and received many emails asking us to please change our Persona 5 streaming/video policy. We recognize that our fans are the reason why the game is the major worldwide success it is, and we continue to want them to be able to enjoy the game without fear of being spoiled. However, we also heard your issues with the guidelines and have decided to revise them.
Because we want to give players the most access to the game while respecting the original goal, we’re now asking players to refrain from streaming or posting video past the end of the in-game date of 11/19–when the main story gears up for the final act.”
All this being said, even restricting consumer rights by this much is not a legitimate position, and so this had better be a gentle suggestion rather than something they intend to attack streamers for.
So, should we as gamers forgive the corporate entity known as Atlus for their attack on our rights? One is initially reminded of the saying:
“To err is human, to forgive divine.”
On cold reflection however, this is not the first time that Atlus has attacked their customers. Moreover, at this point Persona 5 has already made most of its initial sales, and so encouraging additional exposure via streaming will likely stimulate additional sales that Atlus otherwise might not have got. Beyond this Atlus gets to come out looking like the good guy for returning what they stole from us. Many of us are likely emotionally primed to buy into the Atlus apology because we love Persona 5, but it is very possible that this is an entirely cynical move on their part. It is nice that the situation has become more friendly to streamers, but it is impossible to know whether Atlus is sincere in their apology until we are able to see how they handle the release of Persona 6.
How Do You Do, Fellow Gamers?
Ever since Xbox shat the bed under Don Mattrick, and ever since the brand had to be rebooted under the guidance of Shill Spencer, the Xbot community has celebrated him as an executive gamer [one of us!], and he has represented himself as such ever since. Spencer is keen to present himself as a humble gaming evangelist, as is fitting of a corporate entity that is still suffering from the repercussions of betraying gamers. How much does Spencer really care about games though, and how much does he really understand about the industry? Spencer’s comments of late seem rather questionable.
With 2017’s million-plus selling game library comprised of Resident Evil 7, Nier, Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Persona 5 it is no great stretch to say that 2017 is the year of the single player game. Even better is the fact that these titles represent a diverse swathe of single player content; the list is comprised of some AAA titles which is expected, but it also features a couple of more modest Japanese titles – showing that any game can make it if its quality speaks to consumers. One might be forgiven for thinking they were taking crazy pills if they listen to Shill Spencer however, as apparently single player games are fading into irrelevance:
“The audience for those big story-driven games… I won’t say it isn’t as large, but they’re not as consistent. You’ll have things like Zelda or Horizon Zero Dawn that’ll come out, and they’ll do really well, but they don’t have the same impact that they used to have, because the big service-based games are capturing such a large amount of the audience. Sony’s first-party studios do a lot of these games, and they’re good at them, but outside of that, it’s difficult – they’re becoming more rare; it’s a difficult business decision for those teams, you’re fighting into more headwind.
We’ve got to understand that if we enjoy those games, the business opportunity has to be there for them.
I want to make sure both narrative-driven single-player games and service-based games have the opportunity to succeed. I think that’s critical for us.”
Single player games do not have the impact they once did, because service-based games are capturing such a large audience. It is almost as if Shill Spencer thinks that when service-based multiplayer games hit the market a portion of the audience that had been playing single player content stood up and turned their backs on single player games forever. One day Final Fantasy‘s audience stood up and shuffled over to Call of Duty, never to return. The truth of the matter is that the people who always used to play single player games still play single player games, along with the occasional multiplayer game.
The huge audience that has coalesced around service-based multiplayer games is comprised of a huge number of new gamers who came into gaming through the Xbox 360 generation when the online infrastructure made largescale competitive gaming as viable as it is today. The audience for service-based games is now much bigger than the audience for single player games, but the audience for single player games is as large as it ever was, so how are these games lacking in this so called ‘impact’ that they once apparently possessed? The success of of service-based games takes very little away from the success of single player games. Call of Duty can continue being Call of Duty, and that should take nothing away from a single player game that sells a couple of million copies.
This is a lucky day for single player aficionados however, as Spencer has a foolproof way to save single player content! Step one is for developers to once again adopt the ever successful episodic release model [as popularised by the Half-Life Episodes and Final Fantasy VII Remake] in order to provide content to a Netflix-like content streaming service:
“We’re in a golden age of television right now. -The storytelling ability in TV today is really high, and I think it’s because of the business model. I hope as an industry we can think about the same. [Subscription services] might spur new story-based games coming to market because there’s a new business model to help support their monetisation.
I’ve looked at things like Netflix and HBO, where great content has been created because there’s this subscription model. Shannon Loftis and I are thinking a lot about, well, could we put story-based games into the Xbox Game Pass business model because you have a subscription going? It would mean you wouldn’t have to deliver the whole game in one month; you could develop and deliver the game as it goes.”
Develop and deliver the game as it goes, otherwise know as the Final Fantasy XV method – that is sure to be a foolproof method for success! The second step in Shill Spencer’s master plan for success is for developers of single player content to abandon any control scheme that is not a simple QTE-fest, as robust player input is likely to flummox ‘new players’:
“As creators, we’ve got to think about accessibility of the content that we build. Our big narrative story-driven games are in some ways less accessible. They may be the nth iteration of a story that, if you didn’t play the first and minus-one versions you don’t feel connected to. From a mechanics standpoint, they know the core audience has been playing games since PS1, and they just assume you’re a master with a controller.
It’s why I really applaud teams like Telltale Games who have taken an interesting approach to narrative-driven games. They pick stories that people already know, like Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, and build a mechanic that’s accessible. From a core standpoint, we may say is, ‘Ah, it’s kind of quick-time events. Is that a real game?,’ but if you think about broadening the audience, you can’t assume that somebody can left-click down on the stick and hold the right trigger and then hit Y over and over in order to solve some problem. As developers, we need to think about how to broaden our audience.”
QTEs are great because they expand the audience, and never mind existing gamers because they are already the audience! No risk of losing their sale, as one widget is just as compelling as any other! Surely everyone would be happier if games were only marginally interactive graphic novels! One wonders whether Microsoft hired Anita Sarkeesian as a consultant after her stellar work on Mirror’s Edge 2? Games without challenging mechanics sound like an SJW wet dream, as it means there is no enjoyment to detract from a titles’ mediocre narrative. Regardless, Shill Spencer looks at a bumper year for the sale of single player games, and then with a straight face he says that the only way to save single player games is to make them everything that the fans of single player campaigns hate. Well Spencer has his hypothesis, and now the only way to test that shit is for him to put plenty of Microsoft money behind developing episodic QTE games to go up on Xbox Game Pass. You do You, Microsoft.