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What in the World is Going On With Resident Evil?

"Is the franchise alive and kicking or moving quickly towards a shallow grave?"
Resident Evil is in a very odd place right now. It is one of the best selling franchises of all time selling 62 million copies worldwide. It has spawned a hugely profitable film franchise with a 6th installment currently in preproduction and is the highest grossing film franchise based on a video game ever. It created the survival horror genre as we know it and has it’s place in the history of important video games forever. But things aren't as rosy as the seem.
Hardcore Resident Evil fans have been upset with the franchise for a while now. Since Resident Evil 4 was released, while arguably the best game in the series, things definitely took a step in a different direction. The ‘Call of Duty-fication’ of the series hit it’s peak with Resident Evil 6 which in my opinion was an abomination and not even remotely a true Resident Evil game.

Outside of the numbered sequels however things have looked way more promising. Resident Evil Revelations was the best portable RE game to date and a fantastic return to a more personal and closed environment. The game was later ported to home consoles and sold one million copies which was enough to warrant a sequel out next month.
And that brings us to the release of REmake Remastered, which just launched on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC. A remaster of the 2002 GameCube remake of the original Resident Evil from 1996, the game has seen a very great reception so far since it’s launch. Capcom have announced it is their fastest selling digital game in their history and it also broke PSN day one records. This clearly shows that the demand for ‘Old School’ style Resident Evil games is still there so what does this mean for the franchise going forward?

The best case scenario would be full remakes of both RE2 and RE3. However since those games currently exist with PS1 graphics it would be a way bigger task than was needed in porting an already nice looking GameCube game. But we can dream anyway. Going back to the numbered main series you really have to wonder what the hell Resident Evil 7 will look like once it’s finally shown for the first time.
Resident Evil 5 sold 6.5 million copies and is Capcom’s best selling game to date. Resident Evil 6 slightly underperformed on company expectations but still managed 5.2 million copies as of October 2013 so I really don’t think it’s enough of a drop off to scare Capcom into changing their outlook on the main series. If an action oriented Resident Evil makes money then there really isn’t a problem in their eyes. Perhaps the best way to still make money on the franchise but also please the hardcore is to have the numbered games as the big blockbuster titles that appeal to a more mainstream audience, and then have the Revelations series and potential remakes aimed at the hardcore fans.

I could see this working but it brings me to another point which is oversaturation. In recent years with all the spinoffs and ports we have had, on average, two Resident Evil games a year. This is more than even Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed. The start of 2015 alone sees two releases. With the films and other media also, there's just way too much Resident Evil being thrown out by Capcom right now which isn’t surprising given how lucrative it’s been for them. Resident Evil games just don’t feel special at all anymore and that is another issue this franchise faces.
Outside of Resident Evil, the only franchise to give me as much enjoyment over the years is Grand Theft Auto, which takes the total opposite approach. When GTA V launched in 2013 it most definitely felt special and the sales units reflect that. Over 45 million copies to date. Now I’m not saying Resident Evil is remotely as popular as GTA but a somewhat similar approach could really benefit Capcom going forward.

While it’s great on one hand that Resident Evil is still relevant in a world that seems to not enjoy horror games like they used to, I’m glad the franchise is impossible to kill. But I also don’t wanna see RE7, RE8 and RE9 in the coming years just be these awful, dumb games that make the real fans that have kept this franchise alive for this long feel completely alienated. Revelations and remakes can only go so far in keeping everyone happy.
In a perfect world I would love to not see any Resident Evil game for 3-4 years, get everyone excited once again and then come back with a complete reboot which is long overdue. The odds on this are so small that I just hope Capcom doesn’t run this franchise into ground because if they think it’s untouchable, they need to have a conversation with Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk before it’s too late.


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