Horror fans came out of E3 a little, well, horrified at the proposed changes EA and Visceral were planning to make to Dead Space 3. The addition of co-op gameplay and a cover system mean this once unique franchise now risks being lost in a sea of similar shooters, but it turns out that, in part at least, this was an intentional decision from the developer.
EA Labels president Frank Gibeau has explained that the teams behind the game were given the job of broadening the shooter’s appeal.
In general we’re thinking about how we make this a more broadly appealing franchise, because ultimately you need to get to audience sizes of around five million to really continue to invest in an IP like Dead Space.
Anything less than that and it becomes quite difficult financially given how expensive it is to make games and market them.
That means that Dead Space 3 needs to sell roughly twice as many copies as Dead Space 2. It’s worth noting that this wouldn’t be the first massive turn-around from the franchise – the second game watered down the original Dead Space, featuring more shooting and less scaring – and sold roughly twice as many copies. It’s possible that lightning could strike twice!
That said, the game is already upsetting its core fans, something Gibeau tells CVG he wants to avoid:
…with the addition of co-op and taking it to a planet and mostly away from space… we’re pushing it in areas such as environment, co-op and at the same time we definitely do not want to piss off our fans by taking it too far from horror. We’re very self aware of that – we listen to the fans and we hear them.
In our recent E3 video interview, Product Manager Ellana Fortuna explained the co-op introduction by mentioning that the game’s producer, Steve Papoutsis, has always felt it’s more fun to go to a horror movie with a friend – it’s better to be scared together. The key word there of course is scared – Gibeau promises that the frightening element in Dead Space 3 is still deep, and definitely “not getting away from horror”, but is just opening up to a larger audience.
Whether or not that larger audience comes at the expense of the core fans remains to be seen when Dead Space 3 hits shelves in February 2013 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
…if you missed it, here’s our interview with Visceral Games, which elaborates a bit more on the changes being made.