The latest Devil May Cry game caused a lot of commotion for right reasons. The game has been panned by the users across the board for what seem to be good reasons.
The first real problem really starts with CAPCOM, who doesn’t have any idea on how to manage the DMC brand at all. People in charge seem to think that when they have no real direction, the best thing is to give it to some other company and wait for the results. This could be a right thing to do, it really would, but only if they gave the brand to people who have competency in the field. Ninja Theory didn’t. Heavenly Sword is one of the worst controlling games I’ve ever had a displeasure to play. Enslaved was decent at best.
I don’t see any reason why CAPCOM gave such a small and unqualified developer such a high brand project as Devil May Cry. I’m sure it was partly because the developers of Platinum Games basically did a new DMC game with Bayonetta, and despite all the buzz around the titular female character Bayonetta managed to garner a decent amount of positive feedback. Vanquish went under the radar, and while the game is a bit unfinished and rough, it’s still pretty fun to play. I just wish it had a lock-on function or I could play it with keyboard/mouse combination.
Nevertheless, what’s done is done despite expectations. Ninja Theory rebooted the whole franchise, discarding and mismanaging the brand while making a game that is laughable at best. I’m not the biggest fan of Devil May Cry series, but I have played the games and I appreciate what they are, and just looking at the gameplay videos throughout the Internet makes me wonder What the hell were they thinking? The gameplay looks so muffled and mediocre, that random PS Move waggling would suffice for the moves. No, just waving your hands in front of Kinect would suffice. Most of the time I see no strategy, and breaking the combo system seems to be easier than shooting fish in a barrel.
All of this because neither CAPCOM or Ninja Theory didn’t care about the customer.
An interview with the main figure of Ninja Theory, and the person who put his own face in the game, shows two basic things; One is that developers really don’t give what you wish to see in your games and only are there to fulfil their own damn interest; Second is that there are people like the interviewer who regard developers as creative rockstars that who are there to be worshipped.
I instead assumed the snarky journalist persona, and without thinking asked, “So, how do you feel about the fan reaction to DMC?”
Tameen looked at me a moment and took a drag of his cigarette. Then without blinking, and without pausing to exhale the smoke from his mouth he said, “I don’t care.”
And neither should any other developer.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Most Idiot Interviewer Award of the Month goes to whoever typed in that line. Saying that developers should not listen to the reaction from your customers is like advising someone not to listen to the warning sound in an aeroplane.
The interviewer mentions some examples that are mostly superficial, like the change in Sonic’s eye colour or how Zelda hasn’t seen any voiced characters to date. I’m sure Zelda would’ve have voice acting if it was up to Aonuma. With DmC the changes are not this superficial, as not only the visual design has changed, but so has the atmosphere and core gameplay. The change is comparable between Castlevania and Castlevania II, but detract the decent gameplay from II and leave the bad bits in.
The changes DmC made ruined the DMC brand. As it is, the brand is now basically in its deathbed. CAPCOM acknowledges this. If all signs follow as they always have, it seems that Devil May Cry has become unprofitable like Street Fighter did after Third Strike, and Mega Man after 9 and 10 (which ultimately killed the franchise.)
I’d start to listen how to make DmC2, if Ninja Theory ever got a second chance. It’s possible, but seeing that the developer rockstar Tameem doesn’t want to hear any of the critique he has gained while basking in the sunlight like in the interview, DmC2 would be just as bombastically bad or won’t be made.
The interviewer is actually a really good example how modern game journalism is all about but journalism. Why would he have a need to thank Tameem for either Heavenly Sword or Enslaved? This sort of ego stroking should be left outside when journalism is in question. The interviewer was doing his job, and he allowed personal life to get better of him.
Ninja Theory’s DmC at the moment struggles with customers that are in the Second Level of Blue ocean strategy (even thou DmC as such competes in the red ocean); customers that are aware of your product, but for whatever reasons they have refuse to purchase your product.
Seeing that a majority of the game industry suffers from this, as does film and music industries, I don’t expect any changes to happen unless something drastic that forces these people either out of job or to change their views. The latter will most likely not happen, and these people are forced to look for a real job.
It seems that a lot of highly respected names are being run to the ground by their respective main developers simply because they treat them as something they can do whatever with. If you work in a café joint that Tameem visits, please throw some hot coffee on him and punch him. He doesn’t care what the customers think, so should anyone he pays for give a second thought what he thinks?