For years, it seemed like Capcom’s Dead Rising series was on track to being one of the publisher’s biggest IPs. After Dead Rising 2 and the establishment of Capcom Vancouver, an entire new branch of Capcom more or less dedicated to Dead Rising supported that idea. However, fast forward a few years and we land on Dead Rising 4, a game that is almost universally considered no bueno. Not long after that, Capcom Vancouver was shut down entirely. But there’s a lot more to that story, according to Game History Secrets’ Liam Robertson.
Check out the Did You Know Gaming YouTube channel and you’ll find a new video from Robertson that isn’t just about Capcom Vancouver shutting down, it’s about everything that led to it. Turns out, things weren’t going so well at the studio going all the way back to Dead Rising 3. According to the video, the only reason Dead Rising 3 wasn’t cancelled was because of interest from Microsoft, which injected funding to make the game a Xbox One launch exclusive. Without that final push, Dead Rising 3 (intended for the previous generation) wasn’t coming together and was on the chopping block.
Dead Rising 4, as we can see based on the final product, saw similar issues. Apparently the team at Capcom Vancouver was trying to expand its style so to speak, and had multiple new IPs pitched and ultimately cancelled by Capcom Japan. Somehow Dead Rising got roped into this effort, and the studio was turning the fourth game into a sort of serious, The Last of Us-style experience. Capcom Japan didn’t like that (especially since Vancouver allegedly didn’t say anything about that plan), and much of the leadership was let go in addition to all of that work being tossed out. The result was Dead Rising 4, a rushed game made with the remainder of the time and budget, and without the executive or creative leads from the previous games.
Dead Rising 5 was also in development, and once again the team behind it ran into creative problems that ran afoul of the Japan office. A shift to Unreal Engine 4 demanded a change in scope, and originally the game was more traditional Dead Rising, but less open world and a bit more challenging. Multiple leadership changes led to huge shifts in the game’s goals, including one ex-Ubisoft guy who was allegedly trying to shift the game to be more like those games. Then, weirdly, that person left and their replacement started turning the project towards Dark Souls. Again, without talking to Capcom Japan. This project was also canned, and while a round of layoffs meant to laser focus on Dead RIsing 5 took place, Capcom Japan eventually decided to pull the plug.
So what does that mean for Dead Rising as a series? A lot of good will has been burned as a result of Capcom Vancouver’s creative and management troubles. We see this all the time throughout video game history, and it usually leads to closed doors and lost jobs. It also leads to devalued IP, as we’ve seen with Dead Rising. The third game already had a somewhat divided reception, and game 4 was a disaster. Capcom’s efforts in the past to “westernize” its game development backfired quite a bit, leading to the company retreating back to Japan. That move ended up working out, with series like Devil May Cry and Resident Evil making huge comebacks. But those series already had healthy fanbases despite troubles, while Dead Rising feels like a, well, dead end. As much as the Capcom Vancouver story is sad, it’s also frustrating. Revivals are always possible, but sometimes it can take a while to wash away those bad vibes.