In case you missed the memo, Capcom recently outlined the strategy that it plans to use in order to stay profitable over the next decade. It seems to be much the same as that already in use by many of the other publishers, so I see no reason to analyse it. For me, one of the more interesting points brought up is the decision to attempt to shorten development times for their properties and what this means for the Devil May Cry series in particular. Given that Capcom are aiming for a two-and-a-half year cycle for each game, it is expected that the title that follows the next will come some time in the second half of 2015.
Of course, we all know that Capcom has teamed with English studio, Ninja Theory, for what is widely regarded as a re-imagining and reboot of the popular action series. It supposedly takes place in an alternate universe from that of the original, with a new-look Dante that has raised the ire of many fans. Even so, many elements from the seminal series carry over, including the fast-paced combat, several aspects of the story and game design and the brash attitude of Dante. It certainly is an interesting prospect, marrying the gameplay expertise of Capcom with the singular excellence of Ninja Theory’s storytelling. But there are grave doubts for any potential future of this spin-off evolving into a new series.
Not least of these is Capcom’s continued portrayal of Dante in his original form. It was this Dante that was present in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, while further character from the first quartet of games came as downloadable content later on. This tactic is one to create mixed messages. If Capcom is serious about Ninja Theory’s vision, why would they keep flaunting their design instead of replacing it, quite easily one would guess, with the other? It could be as simple as recognition. Dante is an iconic character in the industry, a fact brought on by his relatively unique look and persona along with the high quality of most of the games that he has appeared in. Another reason, just as viable, is that it is a fallback. Keeping the original in the public spotlight gives them the easy transition back to it if their experiment fails to capture the imagination of the masses.
Further giving this impression is the recent HD releases of the first three DMC games. With the HD Collections generally being released in order to drum up interest in an upcoming game, it seems a bit counterintuitive on the part of Capcom. Many fans of the initial series see the latest effort as a betrayal of the character and legacy. As such, those displaying the greatest degree of interest and curiosity must be people that only glanced over the originals, or never had a chance to play them. If they opt to take the opportunity presented by the HD Collection (one most highly recommended, in this writer’s humble opinion), is it not likely for them to fall into the same mindset of those elitists and declaim the offering of Ninja Theory?
I hope not. One way or another, the question cannot be answered now. Capcom is a business and, as such, exists to make money. They may be a creative entity, but this does not mean that they are not ruled by profitability. Ultimately, it will fall to the sales figures to determine which continuity the sixth Devil May Cry game will follow: the old or the new. But then, there is every possibility of both continuing into the future, flipping over as EA does with Battlefield and Medal of Honor, or Activision with their flagship Call of Duty franchise. Even more striking is the possibility of the combination of the two into a single, unified series once again.
For me, I’d like to see both continue as it would ascertain a future for what I consider to be one of the best independent studios in the world, as well as continuing an increasingly interesting and high-quality series swimming in mythology and lore. But what about you?
While you’re here, why not check out our Wrack giveaway and get yourself in the running to win a free copy of the game!