If you're a Resident Evil fan, this 10-minute video interview between key franchise developers and Game Informer is well worth a look.
It's a glimpse into how Capcom is dealing with the significant challenges facing Resident Evil, as the survival horror series nears its 20th anniversary.
At one point, Michiteru Okabe, the producer of Resident Evil Revelations 2 (due in 2015) addresses the question of Resident Evil becoming an annualized franchise, like Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed. It's a curious question, when you consider that there have been well over 20 different Resident Evil games since 1995, but pertinent, because many of them have been spin-offs.
"I wouldn't be surprised if you saw the game settling into that sort of cadence eventually in the future," he said, according to Game Informer's translator. "I don't think we will see a change to the really big scale mainline games. I think once every three to five years probably makes sense for those, due to their scale and production schedules. I think by having spin-off series and some other elements we may eventually be able to annualize."
Resident Evil is the big boss of horror games, a genre that is currently enjoying a strong patch, with The Evil Within and Alien: Isolation recently released and Silent Hills announced. It is bolstered by many associated products like movies and comic-books.
Although Resident Evil 6 sold more than 5 million copies, it fell short of the company's own projections and was met with mixed reviews. Capcom has been criticized for losing focus on the franchise's horror core, for chasing sales by becoming more action-orientated. But in a global market where horror games can expect far less interest than more straightforward action, you can see the dilemma.
Traditionally, Capcom takes its time with the main releases, and fills in the gaps with spin-offs that exploit specific genres, such as shooting, or that capitalize on popular platforms like the 3DS. It seems likely that this is a pattern that will continue, though perhaps with a slightly more formulaic expectation of a release every year of some kind.
Yoshiaki Hirabiyashi, producer of Resident Evil HD Remake, said that he wants to recreate the original Resident Evil mansion for virtual reality gadgets like Oculus Rift.
But the notion of a big Resident Evil game coming out every year is far-fetched. Two years into the new console generation, and still we have no solid information on Resident Evil 7. Resident Evil Revelations 2 will be released in Feb. 2015. It's an episodic game that takes its cue from the original game's exploration, puzzle-solving and careful resource management.
"What we don't want to do is let the series fall off the radar of gamers out there," said Okabe. "We don't want them to feel like this is an old or stale series that they haven't heard from in a few years. We want to make sure it stays fresh in their minds."
He said that the lessons Capcom has learned from Resident Evil 6 and other games like Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, which was farmed out to a Western developer and received poor reviews, is that the franchise must stay true to itself, while finding ways to excite gamers who are being offered lots of horror options.
In short, rather than rushing games to market, Capcom needs to figure out what makes survival horror special, and what it needs to do in the years ahead to ensure it does not become a sub-genre of standard action-shooting. The interview makes clear that, right now, these are exactly the kind of considerations taking place at the company.
"The last thing we want to do is have brand fatigue set in," added Okabe. "There are only so many games people want to buy. It gets really complicated during periods like this when we are kinda between generations and cellphones are really taking off. The key is going to be in keeping in really close communication with the fans and finding out what they want and delivering that to them."