Rare is there a case in which a videogame was met with such vitriol as DmC: Devil May Cry. The new Devil May Cry even generated animosity between fans and the gaming press, but ultimately, the press failed to highlight either side of the debate like good journalists should. Yes, this is one of those articles again, and so soon after the last one.
Announced at the Tokyo Game Show in 2010, DmC is a reboot developed by Ninja Theory. It was received poorly by gamers, with comments ranging from calling the new Dante an “emo” or others commenting about the most obvious diverging trait–that he lacks white hair. Resultantly, this lead to backlash from the gaming press. Perhaps I’ve been living under a rock for the past two decades, but it’s very unusual for the press to be so outspoken against a group in defence of a videogame before–even before they get their hands on the game in some circumstances. Originally, I intended to write an article regarding such articles, but Forbes writer Erik Kain does an excellent job of handling this situation. Perhaps I might touch on it at some other stage, but today’s focus is different.
Still, even after the release, the press holds their grudge against fans and continues to make ridiculous claims. Despite the constant praise that the title received from the press, DmC isn’t doing very well. When MCV’s Ben Parfitt wrote his story about Capcom’s lowered sale expectations for the title, he couldn’t quite help but let off a bitter rant.
It should be worth noting that this article will not be voicing an opinion regarding the quality of the game. Whether the game is “good” or “bad” is for the review, and this article is not about the quality of the game. This article is about the quality of videogame journalism surrounding the vitriol on both sides of the fence.
Parfitt begins with the facts, pointing out that DmC isn’t selling near as well as Devil May Cry 4, the previous installment, did. This should have been what this story was about, but after comparing the sales to DMC4, the author continues with his next paragraph.
“It’s potentially a sad end to a tale brought about very much by the fans themselves,” the author writes. This sentence immediately changes the entire point of the article, shifting the direction to discussing the damage that “the fans” have done to the franchise. This sentence also raises a question: how did the fans doom this reboot? Instead of answering this question, Parfitt opts answer another question.
Why did the fans doom this reboot? Parfitt believes that DmC didn’t sell well because the fans were upset that “Capcom dared to reinvent its IP” or that the publisher “dared to change the colour of Dante’s hair.” The author finishes this sentence by adding, “It’s really very sad.” I share this sentiment, but not in regards to the fan’s reception.
Parfitt somewhat fails to grasp why the game is failing. He claims that “the fans” did it, but how would “fans” result in poor sales for a game that was widely praised? Perhaps one method of preventing good sales would be to not support the title by not funding it. The article fails to give the reader any indication as to why DmC didn’t sell very well, beyond the obvious fact that people chose not to buy it. Is Parfitt suggesting that the fans choosing not to spend their own $60 on a videogame that they dislike, for whatever reason, is a bad thing? Then what are said “fans” of the franchise supposed to do? Throw their money away to support a game that they don’t like? This is absolutely ludicrous.
Perhaps, then, that the fans brought about the end of the reboot’s own series through their own complaining, and thus turning possible consumers away from the title? I suppose, then, it is only reviewers that are permitted to criticise a product? Surely then, should the reasons for disliking the game lie solely in that it is both different and that its protagonist sports a different hair colour, potential customers would not be affected. Neither complaint has any bearing on a new customer.
Ultimately, this article fails to inform. Rather than explain why the fans have affected the sales, Parfitt decides to just bitterly complain about them disliking the title. Similarly, the reasons Parfitt believed “fans” had for disliking the game should have little consequence on the sales of the game for other consumers. Additionally, this is also forgetting that fans do have legitimate reasons to complain (the last example contains spoilers). Whether these reasons are important enough to purchase the game or not are entirely up to the individual.
Additionally, since the new reboot sold far less copies than the previous iteration then that means Parfitt is in the minority in his belief that Ninja Theory resolved any issues in the game. Stating that “[this] is exactly what the skilful Ninja Theory achieved” doesn’t make it fact.
In the end, the author opts to make one final, bitter complaint in the form of a joke: “A headline suggested by a colleague: “Devil May Cry fans destroy brand out of spite.” That covers it.” Yes, Parfitt. That does cover it as that is all the article is ultimately about. The facts stated at the start–regarding Capcom’s expectations of DmC‘s sales–serve merely to set up discussion for the article’s main purpose: a chance to complain about people who didn’t want to buy a game. It’s really very sad.
Edit: Whoops. I forgot to add a full stop at the end of the second paragraph. Consider that fixed. Fixed a “typo” too.