Capcom can explain why the past few installments of the "Resident Evil" franchise have flopped: We're too old.
“The main user group is now in their late 30s to 40s, and the average age is also going up as the series goes on with an increasing possibility that some percentage of the existing users will outgrow games altogether."
Of course, the dropoff in popularity has nothing to do with the fact that Capcom has removed most of the survival-horror atmosphere the series was known for in favor of gigantic guns and explosions.
Not that Chris Redfield looked at any of them. Cool guys don’t look at explosions.
The problem, as Capcom sees it, is that the core market for "Resident Evil" has aged, along with its franchise. "Resident Evil" is now 18 years old, which is admittedly impressive; you don’t make it this far without doing something right. But now Capcom has shot itself in the foot.
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It wants to remarket the series, aiming it at a younger audience. Capcom says the core fans of the "Resident Evil" series are now in their late 30s and early 40s, which assumes that they’ve been playing since the original launch in 1996. (That was a good year for games - Super Mario 64, Diablo, the first Crash Bandicoot.)
But what Capcom fails to realize is that its offerings in the series have changed as the supporting technology has advanced. It used to be that "Resident Evil" had only six or seven zombies on screen at any given time. That’s what the PlayStation could handle at the time, so Capcom designed accordingly. These days, any modern zombie game sends dozens if not hundreds of bodies at you, and Capcom’s games reflect that - "Resident Evil 6"’s mechanics bore similarities to super-successful third-person shooters like "Mass Effect" and "Gears of War."
And in the process, the games became less about the struggle to survive, and all about blowing things up. The problem with this, whether you’re a "Resident Evil" fan or not, is that the market is saturated with plenty of other titles utilizing the same formula. So why would we, the younger demographic, buy "Resident Evil 6"? We’re not old enough to experience the nostalgia and brand loyalty that Capcom is claiming is the cause of the series’ demise. But I’d argue that it’s Capcom’s own fault for releasing subpar, boring games.
Honestly, I’m not a particular fan of any of the "Resident Evil" games, but I do remember playing "Resident Evil Four" some years ago. A lot of the game didn’t make sense -- seriously, I need a key to open a gate I could just hop over? But the atmosphere was lonely and suspenseful. Ammunition was scarce. You had to work to survive, which is supposed to be the whole point of "Resident Evil."
Somewhere along the way, Capcom forgot that. They tried to appeal to action gamers, and in the process forgot why their past games were loved.