Resident Evil 6 came out this week, and despite a huge number of mixed and some downright negative reviews (hell, even GameSpot who seems to give practically every game at least a 7, gave it a 4.5), it has been doing very well in terms of market performance. 4.5 millions copies have shipped, and while that is not an indicative of sales figures yet, anecdotal information from retailers seems to be that a large number of units are being moved. Capcom itself has a high projection, expecting 7 million units sold by March 31st, 2013.
My own reaction to it has been mixed, with a relatively interesting action play and horrible camera and controls. The graphics didn’t feel that great either, and color banding was a issue in a number of scenes.
Where does all this lead us to? A few very interesting possible conclusions.
This could be the problem of a vocal minority, or that the game is targeting a specific niche that does not have much of a representation within the mainstream community.
In the first case, people who like the game are actually busy enjoying instead of critiquing, and you have the problem of a small disgruntled player base but with access to media channels voicing out. Since we only hear the cries of the dissenters, we have assumption that everyone dislikes the game whereas in reality, people do actually like the game.
In the second case, it would be that the people reviewing the game, along with a number of people who bought the game aren’t simply the intended audience, and the intended audience are actually playing as per case one. This is why games like Darkfall received a lot of negativity despite being a good game on its own. Which brings us to the case of misrepresentation.
This misrepresentation case is interesting, because it represents some kind of a mismatched expectation. It could be the marketing department’s fault for misrepresenting the game, or simply because players attach their own biased expectations on to the game, pretending that it’s something it really isn’t. This seems very plausible, given how Capcom tried to appeal to both the survival horror and action fans at the same time. I would think that I myself fall into this category. Having a PS3, I desperately wanted a Resident Evil experience, and I couldn’t stomach playing through the original because they feel so graphically inferior. Once I bought the game, I’ve already contributed to the sales figure, regardless of me liking it or not, so my opinion really doesn’t matter.
But if enough people think that the game is terrible, shouldn’t there be some kind of a feedback and reaction after day 1 after word of it’s mediocrity or terribleness has spread? Logically, you’d think that people would stop buying after reading the reviews, but this isn’t the case. This is where the game starts to sell based on hope.
Hope. This is like entering into a relationship you knew from that start would turn ugly, but you still think that you could make it work. This is some kind of a cognitive dissonance where on one hand, you know for the fact that the game is going to be disappointment, but on another hand, you want to like it so much that you give yourself reasons like “maybe the reviewer didn’t know what he was doing” and “I could handle this”.
Hope is a powerful emotion, and it moves products.