Resident Evil series aficionados that have followed the franchise from day one have seen an evolution away from its original, survival horror roots towards an action style. With Resident Evil 4 on GameCube seen as a major turning point, it seems increasingly unlikely that a new experience similar to the early titles will happen again. This could be put down to gaming trends and improved technology, though the Resident Evil Revelations producer believes that one factor is economics, and what gamers ultimately want.
Speaking to Gamasutra, Masachika Kawata highlighted some of the reasons why Capcom has gradually moved towards an action-focused style with the series.
Especially for the North American market, I think the series needs to head in that [action-oriented] direction. [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 Revelations is the way it is.
Drawing on the Call of Duty series as an example of a genre that easily out-performs conventional survival horror, Kawata does however acknowledge that the series shouldn't become an all-out shooter, and that spin-offs from the numbered series will allow for more experimentation.
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. A 'survival horror' Resident Evil doesn't seem like it'd be able to sell those kind of numbers.
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. 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.
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.
While Revelations provided an interesting hybrid of action and slower-paced horror, it looks like the main series faces the challenge of producing an action style while maintaining a Resident Evil vibe. What do you think? Do you prefer the modern console titles, the hybrid style of Revelations or the old-school survival horror?