The survival horror market is too small for Resident Evil, Capcom has admitted.
That's why the series has, and will continue, to branch out into more action-oriented areas, Resident Evil producer Masachika Kawata told Gamasutra.
"Especially for the North American market, I think the series needs to head in that [action-oriented] direction," Kawata said. "[Resident Evil's primary games] need to be an extension of the changes made in Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5.
"RE4 started in that direction, and RE5 kept going in that direction. And I think that especially for the North American market, we need to keep going in that direction, and take that a step further. And that's exactly one of the reasons that [3DS game] Revelations is the way it is."
Resident Evil's evolution from tense, survival horror thriller into over-the-top third-person action territory began with the release of Resident Evil 4 in 2005. Resident Evil 5, released in 2009, went one step further.
Now, series fans are faced with multiple Resident Evil games, including third-person shooter Operation Raccoon City, the first Resident Evil to be developed outside Japan.
Why the change? Kawata said sales of survival horror games can't compete with those of the industry's big-hitters, such as Call of Duty.
"Looking at the marketing data [for survival horror games]... the market is small, compared to the number of units Call of Duty and all those action games sell," he said. "A survival horror Resident Evil doesn't seem like it'd be able to sell those kind of numbers."
What does this mean for Resident Evil 6, due out later this year? Will it be the most action-oriented game in the series so far?
"I can't really speak for Resident Evil 6, but I don't think that it necessarily has to go all the way in that [action-heavy] direction, the Call of Duty direction," Kawata said. "It doesn't have to be a straight up shooter. But my impression is that Resident Evil 4 and 5 aren't shooters, per se."
Despite the need to sell more units, and thus the need to move away from survival horror, Kawata said there are opportunities for Capcom to satisfy fans who still hunger for the franchise's old school gameplay.
"So we have our numbered series, and we can say we have a more adventure-oriented version, like a Revelations-style game. And we also have Operation: Raccoon City, which is a third-person shooter.
"So I think that by extending the market in this sense, we can still have the numbered titles keep their identity about what Resident Evil is supposed to be, but still expand and hit other markets as well."
Either way, according to Kawata, a good game is a good game, and should sell off the back of its quality. "If you're going to be selling a game based on its good gameplay, then you don't have to worry about the market in which it will be sold," he said. Here, targeted marketing takes over.
"If we're going to make games that sell based on quality content, they should be able to appeal around the world. That might be obvious, but that's why Grand Theft Auto IV, Skyrim and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare also sell in Japan, because their gameplay is interesting."
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