Point / Counterpoint: Survival Horror Market Too Small, Says Dev; Oh No It Isn’t, Say Gamespot Comments

Paraphrasing Resident Evil: Revelations Producer Masachika Kawata: The survival horror fanbase in the US / West is too small to justify a big development budget on a single title, which is why the Resident Evil series is heading in a mostly action-horror direction.

Paraphrasing the Gamespot comments to this Gamasutra article as re-written by Gamespot: NO WAI! Just look at how popular Dead Space, Alan Wake and Left 4 Dead are!

A screenshot from Fatal Frame 2

In Fatal Frame you’re armed with a magic camera and have difficulty seeing what you are trying to take photos of. It’s not exactly an empowering experience.

Me: If you are considering Alan Wake, Dead Space  and Left 4 Dead as good examples of survival horror, you’ve proved his point. In ‘true’ survival horror, you need to generally run away from opponents because you don’t have enough ammo to take them all on (e.g. Silent Hill or Silent Hill 2), or because you can’t survive that many hits (e.g. Fatal Frame). Action horror gives you a load-out of different guns and generally enough ammo to last until you hit the next weapon cache.

When it gets down to it, Resident Evil has always been more action horror than pure survival horror in the vein of games like the Clocktower series. It’s been moving that way since Resident Evil 2 and the success seen for RE4 and RE5 means that this approach isn’t going to change.

Masachika wasn’t saying the next RE will be exactly like Call of Duty, just that there’s a lot of evidence that Western players prefer to buy games where you blow a demon’s head off with a shotgun than a title where you run away from the same demon and hide in a vent until it goes away.

(Yes, I’m cutting out the mention of indie titles like Amnesia: The Dark Descent because I don’t know enough about them to really comment… and they are indie, which means a whole different set of expectations exists for them versus AAA titles, especially on what success means in a sales-versus-the-development-budget way.)

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