Friday, January 22, 2010

SGI: Rail Shooters don't sell..

Welcome to another installment of a segment I like to call "Someone gets it!" This is where a developer is spotlighted for using common sense when everyone else tend to be lost in the proverbial myre. Today we'll be spotlighting Silent Hill: Shattered Memories developer, Sam Barlow. Here's what he said about the recent issues with Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles, and Dead Space: Extraction failing in sales.

"Without badmouthing people, a lot of the games they've been complaining about are rail shooters and a rail shooter wouldn't have sold no matter what platform you put it on because it's a rail shooter and that's a niche genre that had its heyday back in the Dreamcast era."

It was smart for Capcom to port Resident Evil 4 to the Wii; A move that got them successful sales and critical acclaim. The problem of course was in the followup. Umbrella Chronicles was a different direction that worked on Wii owners once, but as the song goes they "won't get fooled again" with it's sequel; Darkside Chronicles. The end result is dismal sales, prompting negative statements about the Wii's target demographics through their France branches.

In all seriousness, what we should be asking Capcom is why didn't they learn from their earlier forays into the rail shooter genre with Gun Survivor, and Survivor: Code Veronica which were released for the first two Playstation consoles. As a matter of fact, the latter of those is a subject of revisitation in Darkside Chronicles. So basically what you're telling me is that we need to revisit Code Veronica three time in order to understand what happened in the game?

EA is pretty much in the same boat with Dead Space: Extraction. Much like Capcom, they took Dead Space, a third person survival horror game that did alright on the HD systems, and decided that they wanted to bring the experience to the Wii. A move that whetted the appetites of core Wii owners, only to find out that the game itself won't be in third person, but a "First Person Guided Experience". Yeah.. that's the equivalent of telling the Brown and Goldman families what O.J. Simpson did was considered "Extreme Divorce". [Yes I could have used a Hati joke in there, but that would have been in bad taste.. /irony ] So apparently not all Wii gamers would chomp at the bit, and EA is not voicing their disappointment. If anything Extraction would have been better suited to being a First Person Adventure much like Retro studios did with the Metroid Prime series, but I guess it's hard to see clearly with dollar signs in your eyes, right?

Now there are exceptions to this: Namely games like House of the Dead 2/3 , and Overkill were great games, but this is clearly because these games didn't switch genres in a condescending move by developers. House of the dead is and always has been a Rail shooter, while Both Dead Space and Resident Evil were third person survival horror games that would have probably done well to stay true to their roots. I shouldn't even have to explain this as even Konami learned from their mistakes when they converted Silent Hill as a rail shooter for it's arcade debut, only to be laughed back into standard third person survival horror fare. There are just way too many cautionary tales out there for these companies to think these "attempts" are going to print money for EA or Capcom. Obviously to Wii gamers this is a no-brainer. Apparently, these guys didn't get the memo.

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