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For Capcom’s 20th anniversary of the Resident Evil/biohazard franchise, the new title Umbrella Corps (Biohazard Umbrella Corps in Japan) was announced. I was not surprised to see the majority of comments across Resident Evil USA’s facebook page and youtube were outright negative. Many of the comments can be summed up as;
- “Too much action, don’t like it.”
- “But why?”
- “This won’t make any time and money”
- “Nobody plays these”
- "This isn’t what fans want"
While much of the criticism is simply dissatisfaction they are unlike the old games, there also seems a lack of understanding the Japanese market and knowledge of Capcom’s sales history. This game is the next natural step because this is an adaption of the social/arcade format, and because action oriented Resident Evil games do sell well.
Commenters are mistakenly believing this to be some kind of continuation/successor of Operation Raccoon City (or Call of Duty). This appears to be more of an expansion from their social/arcade games from mobile platforms like;
- Mercenaries VS. - 2010(?) IOS
- Outbreak Survive - 2011 Gree
- Mercenaries 3D - 2011 3DS
- VS. GREE - 2013 Gree
- Clan Masters - IOS
- Team Survive - IOS
- Revelations 2’s Raid Mode - clearly had a semi mobile/casual play set up
- RE.net events have added a social aspects to recent console titles
Operation Raccoon City was so radically different than what Japan was used to that a manga was written to introduce what exactly it is and what to expect. This is very much for the Japanese. Evidently it’s not coming to Xbox which Japan doesn't care for. This isn’t being made to cater to the west or to further cash in on the action market.
Fans also overlook (or ignore) how well action-oriented titles have been sold, and the overall sales pattern. For reference, here’s the sales units of Capcom’s recent titles;
- Resident Evil 5 - 6.9 mil
- Resident Evil 6 - 6.3 mil
- Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City - 2.4 mil
- Resident Evil Revelations (home console) - 1.4 mil
- Resident Evil Revelations 2 - 1.4 mil
- Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles - 1.3 mil
- Resident Evil (HD Remastered) - 1.0 mil
- CODE: Veronica HD, Darkside Chronicles Wii/HD have not reached over 1 mil
Even while the comparison to Operation Raccoon City is inappropriate, many people cite "look at the sales" not acknowledge how it’s been an outlier as a non-major title in terms of sales. There’s no reason to believe old styled games make up so much of a bulk of Capcom’s success that there’s no room to make action-oriented games. This also doesn’t even acknowledge their mobile market which only consists of jump-in action and arcade like games. Umbrella Corps seems to serve as a transition or bridge between the two, to get mobile users to try home console and home console players to see what the mobile/multiplayer format is like.
Keep in mind it took fan demand for them to approve of a Resident Evil 2 remake (which is generally the weakest form of support for making marketing decisions) whereas the numbers already support more and more action oriented path (Resident Evil Zero’s weak sales and Resident Evil 4 success was the start of the trend).
Last, because the game is digital only, this is clearly related to Capcom’s digital service expansion from their company reorganizing of in 2013. Which contrary to popular belief they were going bankrupt back then, occurred because they had the money to spend.
In incredible irony, the game keeps being compared to Call of Duty series when its premise is the exact opposite, its what Japan likes. Umbrella Corps is not just another shooter for the sake releasing another action game nor does it look like its going to be annualized, it is social game and a expansion of Capcom’s market.