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Should ‘Fans’ Always Get The Final Say?

Should ‘Fans’ Always Get The Final Say?

On October 4 clothing chain Gap changed its logo. On October 12 it dumped it. The reason? A vocal backlash on the Internet, focused largely on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It was a controversy so short that it probably passed most of us by and didn’t get that much attention until Gap turned tail. However, it did bring to mind similar reactions and campaigns in the gaming industry.

Those instances are obviously Sucker Punch’s aborted redesign of Cole MacGrath for inFamous 2 and Ninja Theory’s re-imagining of Dante from Devil May Cry. The first has seen an about face from the company concerned and the later is for the time being sticking to its guns. One gave in to the uproar and the other is standing its ground. The question I’ve been asking myself a great deal recently is could one of them be making a mistake and if so which one?

For a start I’m a big believer in artistic integrity and creative people being given the opportunity to see out their visions to completion before I start dumping on them. As such even if I dislike a change being made to an established brand or character I will hold my tongue and wait to see how things pan out. If the game in questions turns out to be a turd then I can vent all I like, but I’m not going to jump the gun.

In the case of Cole I had no problem with the redesign, but I can see why it would grate some people given that inFamous 2 is a direct sequel and the character was changed so dramatically. My concern was that I didn’t feel Sucker Punch was given a chance to really explain the change. Ultimately it went for the ‘we didn’t know the fans were so passionate about the old Cole design’, response – something Gap has done too since it turned face on its logo.

With Dante Ninja Theory is clearly rebooting Devil May Cry, looking for a fresh start with the brand and the character so that means changes across the board. As I’ve said here before I have a lot of faith in the studio and now many of you will have finally seen what it’s done with Enslaved, I hope you can understand why that is. But, given that it’s a reboot it is a very different scenario to inFamous or indeed to Gap. One rule does not always fit all.

But should fans get the final say? Studios and publishers often talk about the fans being the most important thing when designing a game, but sometimes that can be too narrow a view. Fans of a single game may only number in the hundreds of thousands, but gamers number in their millions. Appealing to a wider audience, creating new fans is surely even more important a lot of the time. If you character or brand is getting in the way of that, is that not a good reason to change things?

Ultimately I think we can all, myself very much included, be a little too precious about the things we like. They exist, they’ve been done and they can’t be taken away from us, so why not try something new. You never know, you may even enjoy it.

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  • rondon

    Developers shouldn’t go change good stuff (characters) to appeal to the lowest common demoniator. They’re just screwing the existing fanbase.

    Idiots at ninja theory killed dante.

  • noctis

    As a certified Devil May Cry nut, I can promise NT right now that I won’t be buying this. he says ‘My name is Dante’. No it isn’t .It really isn’t!!

    Why, in the name of all that is holy, do you have to mess around with the character design? Mario has been around for 25 years for gods sake, and yet is still recognizable through every iteration.
    plus the whole reboot idea was absolutely unnecessary at all !!

    I don’t even care how good the game ends up being, I’ll happily veto it on the grounds of needless tinkering.

  • NoNeed

    They didn’t kill Dante.
    Stop over exaggerating nothing.

  • mark

    All these whining kids crying about how some character looks is pathetic.

    News flash kids, old dante was even more “emo” than the new 1 you’ve been bitching about.

  • mark

    Oh, and old cole was lame as hell with an even worse voice.

  • Austin

    I agree with most people on the Infamous redesign, mainly because I was really used to the first character and the game spent a lot of time building him up into a likeable character that, despite the superpowers, could relate to a lot of players. Additionally I think people were disturbed because originally Sucker Punch’s only really reason was they were switching to another voice actor who could also do mo-cap, something that many will appreciate in the final game but is taken for granted currently. That said, at least this way even though the voice will be slightly different the character will still be pretty familiar to most players.

    As for Dante, the DMC games were always kinda dark/emo to me, so now he better personifies that. Just my opinion, not trying to be negative (although I will admit I believe DMC is a repetitive button masher so I’m kinda biased haha).

  • Fan input is good but I don’t think developers need to have those voices be the final word.

    I think LoZ: Wind Waker is a testament to fan’s not getting their way, despite their obvious disdain for the direction the game was going, and yet the game still coming out on top – even winning back nearly every one of those naysayers with awesome design and gameplay.

    So in short, DMC may be the best game in the series, and fans should just shut the heck up for now until they see gameplay.

  • Garlador

    I think it’s okay to take risks and try out new things.

    … but then have the humility to admit when you made a mistake. For example, nobody liked what they did to Spencer in the new Bionic Commando, and I’m one of the multitude of people upset at how Samus Aran was handled in Metroid: Other M.

    Other times, change is good. Jak and Daxter went through a successful transition. Resident Evil 4 was a smashing recreation of the franchise. Grand Theft Auto III became the first GTA game to warrant high praise. And we all know how successful Mario was jumping from 2D to 3D (while Sonic flailed about like a drunken circus clown with its pants down).

    Sometimes, things just change and they’re not important. I’m upset the legendary lefty Link is right-handed in Skyward Sword, but it’s not a deal-breaker. I hate the blue shells in Mario Kart with a passion, and yet I can still enjoy the game. And Halo jumps from health packs to regenerative health and back again basically every other game. Sometimes you have to let go of the little things, but sometimes others are just worth holding on to (like if Mario shaved his mustache or if Samus is turned from an awesome solitary Amazonian bounty hunter into a codependent, overly emotional, excessively chatty pixie girl that forgets to turn on her heat-resistant armor in a lava level… but I digress.) Sometimes change is necessary, but unnecessary change can be troublesome.

  • noctis

    @Ricardo Trejo
    gameplay ??

    have you played heavenly sword or enslaved both very simplistic and repetitive button masher with QTE that requires no skills…

    so expect more of that in DmC, so enjoy i guess …

  • Small point, but there are no QTEs in Enslaved and here’s a quote from Ninja Theory’s own creative director Tameem Antoniades, “God Of War’s got QTEs down to a tee, every other game that does them gets slated because they don’t do it quite as well. I also except the criticism that it takes you out of the core experience. That’s the thing with Heavenly Sword, there were lots of disperate elements.”

  • Wally

    Windwaker didn’t win back gamers, Ocarina of time won back gamers. If not for that bundle Windwaker wouldn’t have sold like it did. Windwaker destroyed interest in the Gamecube by itself, so this whole “windwaker shows us nothing bad can happen if you s++t on the people buying the game” is bull.

    Ninja Theory wants to promote drug addicts who overdose on crack and crystal meth to the point where they think demons exist and that they are half human/demon hybrids, so be it. Just don’t be surprised when people don’t want to pay $60 for the game, and when people that hate videogames use this game as an excuse for why videogames need to be further regulated and have even more restrictions placed on it.

  • ShurikenX

    Ok, first off. Yes this is the same situation, because this IS NOT a reboot like they’ve been saying. It’s a prequel of DMC3 where Dante is going to be an angry angsty little bitch who hates everyone, including humans.

    They’re changing the game and story completely. Dante was born with white hair this was shown in DMC1, he hates demons for killing Virgil and his mother. Virgil survived the attack and moved on to seek power, while Dante began hunting demons in an act of vengeance.

    What I wanna know is what the *Pancake* happened to Tony Redgrave? Dante’s alter ego developed sometime when he first started mercenary work after his mother’s death but before Devil May Cry 3.

    They simply made Dante look like the designer from Ninja Theory with the hair, and since he’s British, Dante has the British flag on his arm. Narcissistic fanfiction I’d say.

    I’m curious to see where this game goes, but there’s a lot of flaws to the story especially considering how they’re changing him which people absolutely hated his personality in Devil May Cry 2.

    But this isn’t even what I’m complaining about really, these are things that do urk me but my main concerns are these:

    1.) He looks like a junkie(I’ve read this is because the police/mental institution people beat his ass, and it’s supposed to heal over time but that makes me wonder how exactly they’d over power him.) Clean him up, he’d look ALOT better.

    2.) Smoking, that’s just stupid and adds to the junkie look.

    3.) Enough with the Dark Knight voice, it’s old, overused and not very cool unless done properly and considering Dante has a voice already, and is YOUNGER than that voice it’d be pretty stupid to get even deeper.

    When remaking a game, you have to make them recognizable. Windwaker’s problem was a *Pancake* story, the graphics still said “Hey this is an interpretation of Link.” Megaman has been reinvented a few times, and is still completely recognizable.

    But again, this game IS NOT a reboot, its a prequel about how Dante is arrested in Limbo City and put in a mental institution for more than 13 days.

    *Edited for poor language choices*