This week, Sega announced that they plan to make few Mature Wii games. Capcom followed with a similar statement (which they had to clarify with simple PR speak). Some folks seem to be in a frenzy over the news, so let us slow down and parse it a bit.
Yes, their decision is a bit puzzling at first glance. They claim that some of their M rated games, like Madworld and House of the Dead: Overkill, sold as well as they expected, yet the failure of games like EA’s Dead Space: Extraction scares them. Why be scared of someone else’s failure when your own product is doing “well enough” by your own standards? Because while small companies like Atlus build their business model around games that can keep them afloat with modest sales, Sega is (or pretends to be) a bigger entity that wants and needs bigger numbers. In other words, what I am reading from Sega is that they could be a charity case, and take some risks for the sake of Wii owners, but they’d rather not. This is a classic example of being “good for business, bad for the player”.
Sega, you could have left it at this.
But just how bad is it? By my count, at least five releases in Sega’s and Capcom’s combined M rated lineup are lightgun shooters. While it is nice to see a small revival of the genre, five games is overkill. Most gamers would only need one or two at most, so in essence both companies were competing against themselves. As for the rest of their offerings, they ranged from failed potential (Madworld) to terrible ports (Dead Rising).
What both companies failed to realize is that slapping an ‘M’ on the front of your box isn’t enough to guarantee sales. You still need to make a good game to go along with it. You also need to cover a variety of genres, and it helps to understand that there are different definitions of the word ‘mature’. Both Sega and Capcom failed to do some or all of these things, and when they failed to move many copies, they put the blame elsewhere. Dead Rising didn’t sell poorly on Wii because no one wanted it – it sold poorly because no one wanted a compromised experience. The same goes for Dead Space and Resident Evil. We can acknowledge that their Wii games have a lot of work put into them, but lightgun games only benefit so much from visuals and voice acting. When we see that much effort, we simply wish that it was put towards something else. Maybe something more traditional, or better yet, something exciting and new. The closest we got to that was Madworld, and that was only due to the developer behind it.
So with that in mind, I am not going to miss Mature Wii games from Sega, Capcom, or EA. I don’t need them, and I don’t need to see more developers that assume that their audience won’t notice sub-PS2 quality graphics, or that older Wii owners can be pleased by expensive recreations of games that died in the arcade. These publishers failed to put in enough time and money into this endeavor, gave it barely any time to let it simmer, and made a bunch of poor decisions, and then they wonder why it all went wrong. Good riddance.
Of course, this isn’t to say that gamers are in the right here. They make their own equally stupid decisions when it comes to their purchases. I’m just spreading the scorn a little bit.