Many of you no doubt remember Devil's Third, the ill-fated third person action game from the creator of Ninja Gaiden. Though there was plenty of enthusiasm around the game during its initial reveal as a Wii U exclusive, pre-release confusion and quality concerns ultimately led to it having an underperforming debut, critically and commercially, and it's only gone further downhill since.
Tomonobu Itagaki – the game's designer – recently sat down with Polygon to have a long discussion about the game's eight year development cycle. Naturally, the discussion eventually led to how it ended up on Wii U and Itagaki had this to say about it:
When THQ went bankrupt, Kanematsu approached [Satoru] Iwata-san at Nintendo and they picked up the game. The reason why Nintendo picked up the game is that they don't have enough strong online games. Devil's Third is not a game that Nintendo could make internally, so we came in as their mercenaries to make a strong online game.
Afterwards, it was mentioned how Nintendo of America had to shoulder the burden of publishing the game in the US. Here's what Itagaki had to say on the matter:
I generally don't like to badmouth people and I have nothing but appreciation toward Nintendo for releasing Devil's Third. However, I don't believe that they gave this game their best effort in promoting and selling the game. At the same time, I also understand their position… I don't have any resentment toward the sales team at Nintendo U.S. It's natural for them to have made the decisions they made. But, I do realize that there was a shortage and I addressed this to Nintendo many times.
From here, Itagaki went on to explain the reception of this game, which was generally mixed to poor. We ended up giving it a 5/10, but Itagaki says it would've performed much better with critics had Nintendo set up online better:
Let me explain this in parts. First, the reason the reviews were so poor. I have analyzed the reason. This game was designed to be a massive shooter, so it would be fun if there were at least a thousand players in the game. But Nintendo didn't set up online matches for reviewers. So there was no way for reviewers to experience the online mode as we designed it, and they reviewed the game based mostly on the single-player story mode. If it had been Microsoft that had published the game, they would have given the game to a group of 500 players who had signed an NDA to play for the reviewers to experience the massive online mode. But NOA didn't do that.
So I don't blame the reviewers for underestimating the experience of the online mode. There's no value to the review of someone who's evaluating a piece of art with blindfolds on. That was 95 percent of the negative criticism toward the game. The remaining 5 percent was by people who wanted to build credibility by criticising the game. And this is my assumption, but one person wrote a negative review and NOA didn't do anything to stop or change the review, so others followed suit. So I don't really believe that the reviews were credible. Although I haven't read all the reviews, the reviews I saw were not very objective, more emotional.
You can read the full interview here; it's quite an amusing read, as Itagaki-san is a rather odd man and always has some rather unexpected things to say in interviews.
What do you think? Did you enjoy Devil's Third? Do you think it deserved better? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Well, at least it gave us one of the funniest Game Grumps series in months.
Some good old self-reflection then
I thought the game was fun. Reminded me of No More Heroes.
The problem is if they tried to stop or change the reviews people would likely see that as Nintendo strong arming critics into giving a good score
I can understand him being upset at Nintendo not promoting the game more had it actually been good... but Nintendo caught on to it not being a very good game. That's why they didn't promote it very much, and ultimately, the blame falls on the developer.
I bought it on release and the online were very cool, and also had a online system not seen in other games.
the worst part is that he says the best thing is the online yet their shutting it down next month
Nintendo of America knew it was crap, therefore, they responded thusly with their marketing of said game. 😂
"Our game is alive. It's not dead. It's the difference between a stillborn and birth. We shipped the title. It might have only been a few thousand units but it was released into the world healthy and with all its limbs."
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! 😂 Oh, that's a good one. ... ... ...
...Wait, he wasn't kidding? Oh.
Sounds like he's making excuses, but at the same time I would join him in the NoA bashing.
I never got around to playing this game but I remember reading some of the drama around the release. Based on this interview though, I feel like the game creator is literally a little kid and it's hard to even take him seriously. He's trying to blame everyone but himself for the commercial failure of his game. Clearly it couldn't have anything to do with the game he created, clearly it's the fault of everyone else.
And then he actually complains NOA didn't change or rig reviews for him? And we're supposed to feel bad for him?
I mean, NOA is absolutely not perfect and I've gotten annoyed at them for somethings but I'm actually quite glad to hear they don't just massively rig reviews for complaining developers.
I think it was both. It was an under-developed game with a lot of bad design choices.
but Nintendo left it out to dry. They could have stepped in and helped in tons of ways, even if it was just in a supervisory manner (like with Bayonetta 2). But they didn't and it was worse for it because of that.
Also, NoA totally did not care about this game at all. I bet they didn't even want to release it.
@AVahne Agreed 100%.
This was my favorite WiiU game the online was a blast.
I actually enjoyed it, and online was fun.
It was as rough as guts but it had that boot it up and shoot it up over the top popcorn gameplay that was unintentionally funny at times.
I don't know how many times I literally laughed out loud because the enemies blew themselves up.
And if this game had said "A Hideo Kojima Game" on it and been 100% exactly the same, it'd be labelled a 10/10 masterpiece (undeserved ofc).
I never played it but do recall most saying the online was the redeeming feature of this game. There is probably some truth to these claims but hardly the entire answer to devil thirds 'failure'
Before people start trashing the game again, I wish they've actually played it. I bought the game and truly enjoyed it. Some of the battle modes were really fun and original. I really wish more people gave it a chance. Those who did buy it, I am sure they got their money's worth, like myself. The game could get a bit glitchy and there were frame rate issues, but it was playable. I stopped playing after a while, but could see the same people night after night enjoying themselves.
As an online 3rd person shooter/fighter incorporating Ninja Gaiden-like melee gameplay plus shooting, there was no game like it.
@Hey-Cha-La I did actually play it. The single player was trash and the multiplayer simply wasn't fun to me. I think it's a bad game that deserves its immediate death that the creator thinks hasn't happened somehow.
Might be time for redemption! A well made sequel on Nintendo switch will make this game come alive. Would be nice if Nintendo stepped in to help out. They may learn a few tips on makeing rated R games.
Makes me wonder if other companies do.
"one person wrote a negative review and NOA didn't do anything to stop or change the review"
And they shouldn't do that!
Campaign was awful online was fun just not enough players
He's pushing fifty but has all the self-insight and sense of responsibility of a social media era teenager.
Basically, his game sucked. He also needs a haircut.
To me it seemed the game was on the wrong system in the first place for power, online, and conceptual reasons. But even if it had been on the HDMI twins it would have been lost in a sea of more original shooters. It had a vanilla art and design concept style, and was badly programmed. Plus it was delayed for so long it looked old and tired before it got out the gate.
Frankly it was a mess even before Ninty shipped it, and By not take a large part of the blame Itagaki is being a bit of a wally.
Nintendo didn't release enough copies.
Nintendo didn't promote it properly.
Nintendo didn't build a strong enough online infrastructure.
Nintendo didn't stop that one negative review that inspired other negative reviews.
But he doesn't blame them.
I just played the game for some laughs, just the single-player campaign. It was stupid, but fun at the same time. It's interesting to see the reason of Nintendo picking it up (seems like Iwata himself made the decision), too bad the game was mediocre at best.
However, it looks like Nintendo nad Valhalla still have good relations, and they are already developing another game for Nintendo.
@kamikazilucas they're shutting down the online!?!
I actually still wanted to pick this up, it's on my list of 'interesting but not essential' games. Is it literally not worth bothering with for single player?
I liked it
'one person wrote a negative review and NOA didn't do anything to stop or change the review'
... Wait what? What is this, North Korea?
He's unbelievable. It's everyone's fault but his. XD
Tomonobu there, declaring his love for Nando's in the picture
This guy is like the Tommy Wiseau of gaming.
I enjoyed it, both single player and offline. It was rough around the edges, but I finished the game with a smile on my face and that's what counts.
"However, I don't believe that they gave this game their best effort in promoting and selling the game."
Yeah, it couldn't possibly be that everyone was already well aware of just how much this game sucked before it even hit the shelves. The game totally tanked because of the publisher.
Nintendo's clearly shown that even if a game isn't promoted to hell and back, that its still possible for a game to do relatively well. Provided the game is GOOD. But Devil's Third was literally trash on a disc. Promoting it wouldn't have changed a thing.
Such a display of humility- truly humbling.
He's like a wee wanna-be Kojima Dictator.
I am still playing it a year on. I think it was anot original blend of action genres. I think the main problem of most games ported over to WiiU (as this was originally in development for PS360) is that CPU was not fast enough to accommodate the code already written. The WiiU could have succeeded with a better CPU and clearer marketing (like just calling it Wii2, lol)
@Solid_Stannis Sounds a lot like President Trump, except he's 70!
I personally didn't like how this game looked.
It seemed very dated and under developed, I doubt it would have preformed well regardless of platform.
@vio For better or worse, age really is just a number, huh?
Devil's Third is a decent game. Even though it was developed for 8 years, it probably could have done with another , as it was rather rough around the edges. Shame Nintendo haven't promoted Devils Third's Online as much as they did for Splatoon. At least D.T.s online was reasonably decent.
I had a ton of fun playing this game online (with a proper clan) that it is a real shame most people missed out on (inlcuding reviewers who never experience the onlineMP as it was meant to be played). Only the lack of time has prevented me to wirte a full feature article on the reasons why "Devil's Third" is in fact a rough gem instead of a poor game.
@GoldenGamer88 No. Germs.
He does have a point with NOA and its failure to promote the game and to produce a sufficient amount of copies. Many of us were online here listening to a Nintendo Direct that gave but a passing mention of the game prior to its inpending release. And as far as copies, NOA dropped the ball big time with Bayonetta 1/2. Underproduction seems to be their MO, regardless of the quality of any plumber-less title.
I know some people who are trashing Devil's Third claim to have played it, but the majority haven't.
From my own point of view, I got it at launch and really enjoyed the campaign. Certainly not a 10/10 classic but not every game needs to be, does it? It's a solid 7/10 for me, has some technical issues (like the framerate at times) but it's always action packed and frantic and keeps you on your toes, controls are fluid and intuitive too.
But don't take my word for it as I'm not a 'professional' reviewer....just blindly agree with everybody else out there who jumped on the hate bandwagon for something they had no intention of ever giving a chance to.
I honestly think Nintendo Life's review was pretty fair.....a lot of the reviews were crap though, bashing the game just for the sake of bashing it. Kind of like when that movie Pixels was released and bashing it to death became the 'cool' thing to do even though in reality it was just...'eh'...and not really that bad.
Why would Nintendo do something to oppress the players' opinions?
I played the free download version, or was it a demo.
It is utterly a horrible game.
The worst game I've played in 10 years.
No polish and no character in its visual design.
Boring online gameplay.
It wasnt the best thing ever but Devil's Third is a fun game. I definitely enjoyed it. I've always liked interviews with Itagakai, he could be arrogant but he speaks his mind.
Here's hoping ValhallaGameStudios re-invigorates Devil's Third Online for PC and eventually get a shot at making a Battle Angel Alita videogame, without having to worry about all the problems they came across for Devil's Third. This developer has skills, don't want to see them go to waste.
@GoldenGamer88 This. I'd rather they slog through it just to see how crazy their Ivan gets.
I just wish the online stayed alive for long enough for me to buy the game post-price crashes.
I agree with him 100%.
It was especially sad to see that "Devil's Third is a turd" actually became a meme months before it was released or reviewers got to play it. And I do feel like reviewers were more negative on the game compared to a scenario where that meme didn't exist.
@BornInNorway81 um, there was no demo for this game. I think you're thinking of Lost Reavers..which yes, was the most boring game I have ever played.
Pure ego maniac. He should run for president.
I bought it pretty cheap, and Im still enjoying the campaign, cause I still havent finished it. But I never played online mode, and sadly never will, cause I dont wanna play it on PC... yeah, for those who doesnt know, the online mode should be available on PC... at least in Japan.
Anyway, its a simple game and Im having fun with it. I do like combat system, boss fights are awesome, difficulty is good... Even my friend said that he dont understand these reviews.
When Im playing it... I have fun. - Mission accomplished.
But some polishing of the game would be fine... I was somehow disappointed that the main character doesnt have some stronger personality. He could be awesome if he had some good puns and calls, but nope... he is rather quiet.
Definitely could be better, but I like this game.
@BornInNorway81 Go and play Lost Reavers. Devils Third is pretty solid in comparison.
Ummmm..... I don't think additional marketing would have helped, as I understand it the game has a lot of issues comma issues that were never fixed.
I would recommend everyone read the original interview instead of this paraphrased one, as the original has a full deconstruction by the dev that is a lot more insightful about both his technical and business flaws and sounding less whiny than the blurbs above.
"um, there was no demo for this game. I think you're thinking of Lost Reavers..which yes, was the most boring game I have ever played."
I seem to have mixed the two. Hehe, sorry.
Devil's Third also does not seem like a good game to me, but I have not actually played it. But what I've seen does not appeal to me, at all.
@HappyMaskedGuy it's funny, because the main campaign mode feels like a MGS parody.
I enjoyed Devil's third for what it was and have beaten it twice. Single player only so I didn't hop on the hate bandwagon.
However, its poor sales are not due to any fault of NOA. This isn't a hidden gem that didn't get enough notice; that would be W101. This is an almost good/ok to somewhat bad game that is outdated in every way, and Itagaki knows how to put out better product than this. He should have made the game better. Period.
I will say that I love the fact that this illuminates how Nintendo and Iwata-denka reached out to shore up their multiplayer infrastructure.
The game was rubbish there's your answer for why it didn't sell well.
The game is OK, but when your playing it and the further you get in the campaign the more you feel as though they didn't know what the heck to do with the game, and it feels like a sloppy game. Also, it really feels like a game that should have been released 8 years ago, when they started making the game.
I do have to admit that the online multiplayer was a fun part of the game, but had barely anyone on it, so something potentially good was indeed held back by a crappy online community on the platform.
I would say it is more Itagaki's fault this game is bad overall, but definitely the online multiplayer, one of the actual good things about the game, was really held back by inferior online from Nintendo. If the game released 8 years ago on 360 and ps3, it would have found at least audience.
"Here's an alternate theory: Maybe it was an underdeveloped mess of a game"
I think that's more likely. I haven't played it though.
I can agree with a couple of his points: The online experience is actually fun and in some ways fresh and different. Not getting the best and most fun aspect of the game into reviewer's hands is b.s. and there's no doubt in my mind that scores would have been higher had reviews played a full fledged online mode.
Also, NoA didn't do a damn thing to promote this game.
So that's 2 definite strikes against Nintendo.
However, expecting Nintendo to pressure reviewers is ridiculous and dude seems a bit off and full of himself. The reason that I believe he's right in saying that scores would have gone up, is that the single player mode was fairly broken/ill conceived. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't good... which stands in contrast to a very playable and fun multiplayer mode. So of course scores would have gone up. They still would have been middling reviews once the two experiences were weighted and averaged out. I do believe that if Nintendo had supported the launch and highlighted the online play, sales would have been noticeably better. It wouldn't have put up impressive numbers, but it probably would have performed respectably.
He is right, Nintendo sent the game to die. They didn't mention it at the E3 before release and they were completely bizarre about if America would even see the game. They should have understood they needed better messaging after the debacle that was their handling of Xenoblade (Wii).
@TTGlider While Nintendo does need to better market certain titles that they produce to put Devils Third on the same level as Xenoblade (and to a degree Last Story and Pandora's Tower as the three shared a similar fan outcry) is a bit extreme. It was an alright game that needed more dev time to fine tune the controls and visuals. Not nearly as polished as his Ninja Gaiden entries if I'm being honest.
Maybe he has a point that NoA could have set up a NDA prerelease online playing team so reviewers could properly check multiplayer.
It may not have proved review scores though because I asume NL would have given a higher score if the multiplayer made up for it.
No surprise, Nintendo (especially NoA) wasn't sufficiently promoting ANYONE on the Wii U, not just him. Neglecting to show off Devil's Third at E3 2015 is another misstep on NoA's part. The multiplayer was the only decent part of the game, so it did hurt to not have that be emphasized.
@GhostUrsa Detailed analysis isn't as good as hand-picked bombast at generating clicks.
A few thoughts.
1. There were review times for on-line, at least in Europe (according to NintenDaan).
2. If you know something is not good, do you promote it? That was Nintendo's decision. It is a lose-lose situation. My guess it decided that letting the game go away quickly was far less damaging that promoting something of limited appeal and questionable quality.
3. I cannot believe that the physical version this game is still $60 is US.
I managed to find a copy of this game in 2016 of may, and, as of right now, it's the only copy of the game I have ever seen. I wish I could play it, but it's sealed, and this game is a collector's item or somthing, so that's preventing me from playing it, which is a shame, since the online looked fun. If they made the online free to play (which they are on steam) on the U, that could've saved the online on the U verdion, idk
@SheldonRandoms online is free, you could use money to buy golden eggs for equipment but you could also get them each time you leveled up or by finishing the single player mode...
The Game is a solid 7/10, the framerate and poor AI is sometimes a problem but the action is frenetic and the controls are good except that the wii u gamepad stick is horrible for this kind of games , absolutely horrible, way too sensible
the multiplayer is great , with a lot of customization of all kind , there can be almost 20 players ina single match
The single player mode is great, Ivan is a cool character, great voice acting, somewhat interesting story (more than COD) and the hybrid of shooting with hack n slash is great
I really wanted to get around to playing this game, but I wasn't going to pay the price they were asking at the time and was also trying to get through my own backlog. If it's still around, I guess I get around to at least experiencing its single player. Ah well...
No voice chat online was the reason why I never bought it!
I really enjoyed the game the action was great, the story was ok, the boss battles was epic, the game running was pretty poor and the graphics was average but overall i had fun prob a 6.5/10 for me i didn't get round too the online multi-player but heard that was really good n fun just not enough players playing it. I wouldn't mind seeing Itagaki-san doing another project on the NS.
"one person wrote a negative review and NOA didn't do anything to stop or change the review, so others followed suit. So I don't really believe that the reviews were credible."
Sooo, reviews are only credible if Nintendo stops them from happening or changes them? Makes sense
I never bought it because I'm an objective consumer who saw no long-term possibility of enjoyment or replayability. That and it looked poop!
@CapitanFalcon I meant the online being a separate free download that was free to play. If they had done that it could've revved up more players, with some probably wanting to get ahead and purchase a golden egg or two. Even if the online community wasn't that big, it would've probably had more players roaming around compared to what is has now.
" Asked if he has a dream game in mind at the moment, Itagaki says, "I'd like to do 'Gunnm' . "
Ouch, seeing what the manga became, I doubt a new game would be wise.
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