Why did DmC: Devil May Cry fail and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance succeed? What can we learn from the stark contrast of these two very different attempts to outsource popular franchises?
You might argue, of course, whether the former failed at all. After all, the aggregate scores on Metacritic place the two roughly in the same niche – if anything, Rising scored slightly lower than its competitor. But the positive reviews of DmC have not been without controversy, and the sales numbers tell a very different story.
Rightly or wrongly (our opinions on each game can be found here), DmC was viewed as a betrayal by many of the franchise’s fans, and failed to draw in the sales Capcom had hoped. Rising, also an outsourced product initially seen as a divergence from the themes of its parent franchise, has been a strong financial (selling 759,487 units worldwide as of March 2nd) and solid critical success. Why?
Outsourcing, of course, doesn’t have the best history. Sometimes it’s done for reasons of cost, other times to appeal to another market. When done well – and there are examples of overtly outsourced franchise done right, notably Mercury Storm’s Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Obsidian’s Knights of the Old Republic 2 – the publisher still gets credit for continuing the franchise. But when done poorly, heaven help the unfortunates chosen, who will no doubt receive the lion’s share of the blame.
So first of all: what motivates a studio to risk it?