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Hey, Forerunner here. Today I'd like to talk about the often held belief that Resident Evil CODE:Veronica was the 'real' third game, which I feel should be addressed after an incident on Reddit the other day led to a few of our users getting flamed.
The basic story is that Capcom was under a contractural obligation to Sony to have three numbered titles on the PlayStation. With the console's reign on the market about to end with the PlayStation 2's approach, Capcom decided that "Resident Evil 3", a game in development for the Dreamcast, would be renamed "Resident Evil CODE:Veronica" and a smaller game in development for the PlayStation be renamed with the '3'.
The belief is the result of a few of misunderstandings about the series:
- There was no Sony deal. People are mistaking it for Shinji Mikami's deal with Nintendo in 2001 over GameCube exclusivity of the remake and numbered titles.
- Hideki Kamiya has been cited before talking about working on a "BIOHAZARD 3", but he's talking about Devil May Cry and not CODE:Veronica, which he wasn't involved in.
There was indeed a name change, but it isn't what a lot of people think. Hideki Kamiya's "BIOHAZARD 3" title (starring HUNK on a cruise liner) was predicted to be released after the PlayStation 2, so in mid-1998 Capcom ordered him to move the project to a PS2 SDK to avoid losing serious money (this was the era where SEGA could have all games for a console cancelled the day the replacement is released - developers were very worrisome about outdated hardware). This meant re-starting the project on an unfamiliar software, so Capcom was left without any big titles for the older PlayStation console.
The reason for the name change, therefore, was all about money. Knowing that numbered sequels are very attractive to customers (who see it as being superior to numberless titles), Capcom decided that Kazuhiro Aoyama's Resident Evil 2 side-story "BIOHAZARD 1.9" should have the '3' number instead. This was a very controversial decision, as 1.9's small budget nature risked it looking rushed in comparison to Resident Evil 2 - Shinji Mikami threatened to quit Capcom over it and Hideki Kamiya to this day calls the game "a piece of shit" due to its unworthy number.
In brief: Capcom wanted to end the PlayStation with a '3' game so it would have a profitable ending on the console, and knew "Resident Evil Survivor" wouldn't do it. CODE:Veronica was always CODE:Veronica, however.