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Blood N’ Guts

posted on January 8th, 2010 by christian

This week, Sega announced that they plan to make few Mature Wii games.  Capcom followed with a similar statement (which they had to clarify with simple PR speak).  Some folks seem to be in a frenzy over the news, so let us slow down and parse it a bit.

Yes, their decision is a bit puzzling at first glance.  They claim that some of their M rated games, like Madworld and House of the Dead: Overkill, sold as well as they expected, yet the failure of games like EA’s Dead Space: Extraction scares them.  Why be scared of someone else’s failure when your own product is doing “well enough” by your own standards? Because while small companies like Atlus build their business model around games that can keep them afloat with modest sales, Sega is (or pretends to be) a bigger entity that wants and needs bigger numbers.  In other words, what I am reading from Sega is that they could be a charity case, and take some risks for the sake of Wii owners, but they’d rather not.  This is a classic example of being “good for business, bad for the player”.

Sega, you could have left it at this.

But just how bad is it?  By my count, at least five releases in Sega’s and Capcom’s combined M rated lineup are lightgun shooters.  While it is nice to see a small revival of the genre, five games is overkill.  Most gamers would only need one or two at most, so in essence both companies were competing against themselves. As for the rest of their offerings, they ranged from failed potential (Madworld) to terrible ports (Dead Rising).

What both companies failed to realize is that slapping an ‘M’ on the front of your box isn’t enough to guarantee sales. You still need to make a good game to go along with it.  You also need to cover a variety of genres,  and it helps to understand that there are different definitions of the word ‘mature’.  Both Sega and Capcom failed to do some or all of these things, and when they failed to move many copies, they put the blame elsewhere.  Dead Rising didn’t sell poorly on Wii because no one wanted it – it sold poorly because no one wanted a compromised experience.  The same goes for Dead Space and Resident Evil.  We can acknowledge that their Wii games have a lot of work put into them, but lightgun games only benefit so much from visuals and voice acting.  When we see that much effort, we simply wish that it was put towards something else.  Maybe something more traditional, or better yet, something exciting and new.  The closest we got to that was Madworld, and that was only due to the developer behind it.

So with that in mind,  I am not going to miss Mature Wii games from Sega, Capcom, or EA.  I don’t need them, and I don’t need to see more developers that assume that their audience won’t notice sub-PS2 quality graphics, or that older Wii owners can be pleased by expensive recreations of games that died in the arcade.  These publishers failed to put in enough time and money into this endeavor, gave it barely any time to let it simmer, and made a bunch of poor decisions, and then they wonder why it all went wrong.  Good riddance.

Of course, this isn’t to say that gamers are in the right here.   They make their own equally stupid decisions when it comes to their purchases. I’m just spreading the scorn a little bit.

5 Comments

  1. John said on January 9, 2010:

    The only M rated Wii game I’ve played that I felt really deserved a mature audience and response was Cursed Mountain (my review http://videolamer.com/review-cursed-mountain) It was a extremely flawed game, and it’s no surprised to anyone that it sold terribly, but it made a serious attempt to do something other than be a commercial product.

    House of the Dead? The Conduit? Dead Space and Resident Evil: rail shooter edition? Get real guys! No wonder these didn’t sell well, everything about them is second rate. They’re obviously just trying to exploit a specific market niche, and failing.

  2. Cunzy1 1 said on January 11, 2010:

    Once again I’m going to get my knickers in a twist about the difference between internet hypothesizing and what happens at retail.

    Over Christmas for reasons I won’t go into I ended up spending many hours idling in Game stores in three different countries but not to buy anything. As a result I became some kind of gaming fairy helping largely clueless people find the games they were looking for. The number of people I helped to find New Super Mario Brothers (some people were walking around with Super Smash Brothers and Super Paper Mario) was astonishing. And this game has been heavily hyped on TV, online and in mags (in Europe at least) and even has a different coloured box to help people.

    And when it comes to the Wii especially this is how people are gonna buy your games. By wandering into a shop and picking things up based on what the box looks like or what a friend recommended.

    I think mature or not is neither here nor there and the asshat who buys games purely based on whether they are M/18 will probably have pissed their trousers with glee at shite like Madworld.

    P.S Happy New Year VLers!

  3. christian said on January 11, 2010:

    But Cunzy, I wonder how likley it is that the crowd of pants pissers you mention in the end even have a Wii. Which may be the problem – if that market was being targeted, then there was no audience really. Meanwhile the Wii owners who may enjoy that kind of game are going to be the ones that look for quality.

  4. Cunzy1 1 said on January 12, 2010:

    A good point Christian that I overlooked and it’s the fault of people who created the pointless casual and hardcore labels.

  5. jay said on January 18, 2010:

    I didn’t buy RE Light Gun Game 2 because I have the first, Ghost Squad, HotD 2&3 and Overkill. That’s already too many light gun games.

    And it’s hilarious that Dead Space is a barometer for anything. Rail shooters aren’t selling, and after all those multi-million selling blockbuster rail shooters on the PS2?!?!

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