Only time will tell if publishers will ever learn from their mistakes. Sacrificing a series’ roots to appeal to a broader audience fails more often than it works. Not only do you not attract new users, you also anger the established fanbase and end up losing sales.
EA already learned from this mistake last year when Syndicate came up short, but they went ahead again and decided to give Dead Space 3 an unpopular touch of mainstream influence. Co-op, cover base shooting, and heavy action were all cited as examples of what the traditionally survival-horror game was doing wrong, but all that fell on deaf ears.
Dead Space 3 launched with its changes to mediocre reviews, and now sales are starting to reflect the disappointment as well.
Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen only briefly mentioned the game in company’s year end financial call, stating that both “Crysis 3 and Dead Space 3 came in below our forecast.” No official numbers were given, but NPD figures suggest the game has sold less than the critically acclaimed Dead Space 2, a situation EA was desperately trying to avoid.
Expect more microtransactions to make-up for Dead Space 3‘s poor sales in the near future.
Dead Space 3 joins the ranks of a handful of AAA games which have missed their mark. Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution took their toll on Square Enix, and Resident Evil 6 and the DmC reboot have also put Capcom in an awkward position.
However, Eidos, working through Square Enix, did their best to keep the spirit of the franchises alive and received praise for their efforts. Capcom’s sales figures came through two games widely criticized for not speaking to their audiences.
What is the secret formula for making a game speak to both a hardcore audience and broader market? We have yet to see any appear in recent memory, and the only games on the horizon which I can see hitting the nail on the head are Konami’s two planned Metal Gear Solid games. Any other takers?