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From Remasters to Reinventions: Capcom's Winning Formula and Naughty Dog's Dilemma

The gaming world is an ever-evolving landscape, where developers strive to keep players engaged with new and exciting experiences. Two prominent compa...

Will Nelson

Feb 08, 2024

From Remasters to Reinventions: Capcom's Winning Formula and Naughty Dog's Dilemma

The gaming world is an ever-evolving landscape, where developers strive to keep players engaged with new and exciting experiences. Two prominent companies, Capcom and Naughty Dog, have taken different approaches to tackle the challenges of game development in recent years. While Capcom has embraced remakes and reinventions, Naughty Dog seems to be stuck in a cycle of remasters. Let's take a closer look at these strategies and see why Capcom's approach may hold the key to success.

It all began when I rediscovered gaming in 2016 and played The Last of Us on my trusty PS3. It was a no-brainer, considering I already owned the console. As I upgraded to a PS4, Resident Evil 7 welcomed me into the next generation of gaming. Since then, I've faithfully played every new installment in both series, witnessing the diverging paths taken by these two influential companies.

In the seven years that followed, Naughty Dog released only one game in The Last of Us series (excluding remasters), while Capcom treated us to full remakes of Resident Evil 2, 3, and 4, along with an entirely new game called Village. Both companies recognized the extended development time required for modern video games, but their responses couldn't be more different. Naughty Dog opted for lightly updating their old games and selling them back to the audience, while Capcom rebuilt their games from the ground up.

Consequently, the announcement of a new remaster for The Last of Us usually evokes a sense of ambivalence. On the other hand, the Resident Evil remakes generate excitement, with fans eagerly speculating about which older games might receive a makeover. Resident Evil fans know that new games are on the horizon, which makes them happy to revisit the classics while they wait.

Capcom's brilliance lies in its ability to reinvent the wheel one year and then deliver an impeccably polished experience the next. Resident Evil 7 broke new ground by adopting a first-person perspective, reminiscent of indie horror games that turned Twitch streamers into screamers. But then Resident Evil 2 offered a more traditional take on the series, blending the story and structure of the original with the third-person gameplay of Resident Evil 4. Some might argue that Capcom played it safe by drawing inspiration from beloved titles, but the result was undeniably outstanding. Who cares about risk when the execution is flawless?

Resident Evil 3 attempted to follow the same playbook, but it fell short in comparison. Although I personally enjoyed the game, I found myself in the minority. Yet, as the dust settled, Capcom was already preparing to hype fans up for something new with Village. And boy, did it work! The internet went wild for Lady Dimitrescu, the game became a hit, and even secured a Game of the Year nomination at The Game Awards (not to mention Maggie Robertson's well-deserved win as Lady D herself).

One might argue that Capcom's advantage lies in being a publisher rather than a single studio like Naughty Dog. When you look up these games on Steam or Wikipedia, the developer is simply listed as Capcom, obscuring the collaborative effort involved. Although multiple teams share key staff, it's unrealistic to believe that one team alone could produce this many high-quality games in such quick succession. Successful companies manage to release big games regularly because they have multiple teams working behind the scenes, each on longer development cycles. It's a similar strategy employed by the Call of Duty franchise.

Neither of these strategies is perfect. Personally, I would love to see both Capcom and Naughty Dog return to releasing smaller games on shorter timelines. However, if we're stuck with four-to-five-year development cycles, Capcom's approach appears far more appealing. Its effectiveness is so evident that one cannot help but wonder why more developers and publishers aren't taking notes. Not every new Resident Evil installment may resonate equally with fans, but when a game comes out every year or two, who has time to complain?

In conclusion, Capcom's reinvention and remake strategy has proven successful, captivating players with fresh experiences while delivering polished renditions of beloved classics. On the other hand, Naughty Dog's reliance on remasters may leave fans yearning for more. In the ever-changing realm of video games, it's crucial for developers to adapt and find innovative ways to keep players engaged. Perhaps it's time for Naughty Dog to take a page from Capcom's book and explore new horizons while still satisfying the fans' expectations.

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