Are you a loyal Dead Space fan who’s afraid that Dead Space 3 is becoming more “third-person shooter” than “survival horror”? Sure, your concerns are certainly valid, but according to EA executive dude-guy Frank Gibeau, the series still needs a broader appeal in order for the publisher to maintain their investment in the franchise.
If that sounds odd to you, it all boils down to sales figures—although Dead Space is one of EA’s most popular properties, Dead Space 2 didn’t outperform its predecessor, selling less than 3 million copies across all three of the major platforms. That’s not a good sign, especially considering that the first Dead Space cracked the 3 million mark on PS3 and Xbox 360 alone.
Talking with CVG, Gibeau stated that he wants to reassure fans Dead Space 3 is still a horror game at its core, even though it features co-op gameplay and more “action-y” settings:
When we went into the research, we created a few prototypes around co-op. Because one of the insights that producer Steve Papoutsis had was that when you go to see a horror movie it’s always more fun to go with somebody else. It’s more fun to be scared together than by yourself. So we embraced that idea and we tried to open up the accessibility of the IP a little bit by adding a little bit more action, but not undermining the horror. We can’t not be a horror game because that’s what Dead Space is.
So 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.
Gibeau also points out the the multiplayer experience in Dead Space 2 didn’t push sales nearly as much as EA thought it would (and by my own assessment, it was definitely the weakest part of the entire package).
For EA to continue investing in the Dead Space franchise, Gibeau insinuates that the next game in the series will have to get an “audience size” of somewhere around 5 million to justify the publishing and development budget. If he’s talking about raw units sold, that’s a lofty goal—EA’s only video game to crack 5 million units in total sales last year was Battlefield 3.