When it launches later this year along side Resident Evil 6, Resident Evil.Net won't just be a stat tracking site for the game, it will be a way the developers ensure that players finish the game they spent so much time creating.
When it launches later this year alongside Resident Evil 6, Resident Evil.Net won't just be a stat tracking site for the survival horror-action game, it will be a way the developers ensure that players finish the game they spent so much time creating.
"The impetus for Resident Evil.Net is that we realized a lot of people purchase games and never complete them," Eiichiro Sasaki, director of Resident Evil 6 told Polygon. "We were trying to figure out how we could get people to enjoy the game from start to finish.
"Resident Evil 6 has four campaigns. What if you play one and think, 'OK, that's enough.'?"
The answer, Sasaki said, is Resident Evil.Net.
The service, first unveiled during Capcom's Gamescom press conference earlier this week, allows players to keep track of their progress in Resident Evil 6 and grants access to performance reports from the game. Players will be able to sign into the service through a Capcom Unity account or create a new account. They can also access a basic level of the service through Twitter or Facebook. All versions of the service, including the planned ones for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices, will be free, Resident Evil 6 producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi told Polygon in an interview.
While the service can be used by players to create performance reports, provide stats on weapons used, and enemies killed, and see how far into the game a player and their friends are, that's not the real reason Capcom developed the service.
The team said they plan to use Resident Evil.Net to keep an eye on players' progress through the four intertwined narratives of the campaign and, hopefully, spot sticking points. When they notice players giving up or missing out on an element of gameplay, they'll create challenges to encourage people to redouble their efforts.
"That's exactly what we're thinking," Sasaki said. "We want to help gamers get the most out of the game. "
So if they see that players seem to have stopped playing through the campaign that has Leon S. Kennedy dealing with an infected President of the United States, Capcom can create a challenge on Resident Evil.Net that focuses around that campaign. Or maybe they could create an event based around killing as many of the newly introduced J'avo zombies as possible in a short time, to try and get players to refocus their energies on playing through the Chris Redfield and Jake Muller campaigns.
Playing through these in-campaign challenges also gives players a chance to unlock rewards like mercenary costumes, small figures, and even backdrops pulled from Resident Evil 6. There will be unlockable figures for all of the game's characters, including the enemies. And players can use these figures and settings to create small isometric dioramas that can be captured and shared through the network, Sasaki said.
Capcom started thinking about ways to increase completion rates for Resident Evil after the release of Resident Evil 5, Hirabayashi said, but he declined to say what Resident Evil 5's campaign completion rates were.
"I can't get into specifics on actual numbers for Resident Evil 5 completion," he said. "We did research and it was less than we expected, which was surprising to us. Sometimes people get stuck in the game and tend to give up. RE.Net is the solution to that. If we notice that people are stopping at a certain time we can create awards or some motivation to move them beyond that point of the game.
"The point of RE.Net is to get people to finish the game."
Sasaki said the team at Capcom looked at a number of similar online stat tracking services while creating Resident Evil.Net, including Halo's Bungie.Net, Need For Speed's Autolog, Battlefield 3's Battlelog and Call of Duty's Elite service.
"There was a desire on my part to imitate what those services were offering," Sasaki said. But both Sasaki and Hirabayashi stressed that it wasn't about just copying something like Call of Duty Elite.
"That was not the intent," Hirabayashi said.
If the service is well received, Capcom might even expand it to support other, future games, the two said.
"The way this system is designed, it's generic enough that it can be brought over to other games," Hirabayashi said.
Both Hirabayashi and Sasaki seem acutely aware of some players' inability, or unwillingness, to finish their games. Both feel this problem is a sign of the times.
"I definitely think current gamers' approach to gaming is different," Sasaki said. "That's not good or bad, but the reality is these things will keep changing. It's our job to try and meet these changes and try to come up with solutions. We're trying to create a more interesting way for players to enjoy the game."
Hirabayashi noted that where once players liked to figure things out on their own, an increasingly larger group of gamers don't.
"Players nowadays, as games have become more and more complex, want to be shown, they want people to tell them how to solve the games," he said.
Sasaki said the key to solving the issue is not to make the game easier, or the goal any less lofty in a game, but to instead break those challenges down into a larger number of steps.
"We're not lowering the bar. It's still the same height," he said. "We're just giving players smaller steps so they can incrementally solve that challenge."