How Resident Evil 2 Changed Almost Everything In The Games Industry

It’s always easier to look back at the impact of certain games when they’ve been out for a while, and the further away we get from 2019’s Resident Evil 2 remake, the clearer it becomes that the survival horror title has turned out to be much more influential in the wider context of the games industry than many would have initially imagined. RE2 launched early on in its year and was widely received with rapturous response, picking up high scores, plaudits, and awards. All of that has, of course, also been reflected in the impressive sustained sales it’s seen over the course of nearly four years, with over 10 million units sold worldwide at last count.

That’s impressive in and of itself, but look beyond that at companies other than Capcom, and it quickly becomes apparent that Resident Evil 2’s success has been noted by many, and many, in turn, have taken steps in the hopes of replicating its success. That’s happened in a number of ways, some more subtle than others, but the most obvious one, of course, is the resurgence of the horror genre.

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Admittedly, it would be a little silly to attribute all of that to Resident Evil 2 alone. After all, many might argue that RE2 itself might not have been the flash in the pan that it turned out to be if it didn’t have the critical and commercial success of Resident Evil 7 to build off of. It’s fair to say, then, that there’s more than just one game that contributed to the horror genre’s revival- but no matter how you look at it, Resident Evil 2 does deserve credit for a large portion of that.

Even a cursory look at gaming right now will tell you just how much the industry at large has been encouraged by the massive success of Resident Evil 2 (and other Resident Evil instalments). Until not that long ago, most developers and publishers strongly believed that there was no longer a market for horror games out there, that large-scale, big budget AAA horror games would never be able to sell enough to turn a respectable profit. For all intents and purposes, for a good few years, the genre was dead and buried. Now, the picture looks completely different.

Similarly, another particular category of games that has seen quite a boost following Resident Evil 2’s launch is, of course remakes. Of course, unlike horror games, remakes have always been (and will always be) hugely popular, so it’s not like we weren’t getting any good remakes of beloved games before 2019. Then again, in the wake of the success that RE2 has enjoyed, developers and publishers’ eyes have been opened to new possibilities. Revivals of IPs and remakes and reimaginings of older games have become more frequent than ever, which is saying something.

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Incidentally, a great deal of those remakes and reboots are horror games, and this is where the influence of Resident Evil 2 intersects and is at its strongest. There’s no shortage of upcoming games where you can see an abundance of inspiration from Capcom’s survival horror title in some form or the other. Take Dead Space, for example, a franchise that was unequivocally dead, with little hope of ever seeing the light of day again, not least because EA owns it. But RE2 managed to turn even EA’s head (while the success of the single player-only Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was also obviously a factor), and now we’re getting a ground-up remake of Dead Space that is hoping to revive the franchise much like RE has managed to do over the last half decade.

Then there’s Silent Hill, a franchise that was in even worse shape than Dead Space, to say the very least. Not only has it been years since we got a new mainline Silent Hill game (and even longer since we got a good one), it’s also been a long time since Konami left the AAA console space. But it’s been proven beyond doubt now that there’s plenty of hunger for new well-made horror games out there, while Konami also knows that remakes are doing particularly well- and lo and behold, we’re getting a remake of Silent Hill 2, which, much like RE2, takes a fixed camera survival horror classic and turns it into a third person over-the-shoulder game.

Another major horror franchise that’s been on ice for years and is finally making a grand return is Alone in the Dark. So long had this long-running series been slumbering, many had given up hope that it would ever comeback. THQ Nordic is, of course, a company that has a knack for diving into its massive catalog of accrued properties and bringing them back into the limelight, and Alone in the Dark, interestingly enough, is doing that with an over-the-shoulder third person reboot that evokes Resident Evil 2 quite strongly.

And there’s several more examples where the footprints of Capcom’s flagship franchise are easy to spot. Take The Callisto Protocol, for instance, which isn’t a remake or a revival of any sort, but is a major new horror title that’s benefiting from the widespread renewed interest in horror sparked by Resident Evil’s recent efforts. Alan Wake 2 is currently in development at Remedy Entertainment, and has been officially confirmed as a full-fledged survival horror game. On top of that, recent reports have also claimed that No More Heroes developer Grasshopper Manufacture is working on a new AAA survival horror Alien game that takes inspiration from Resident Evil 2. And of course, there’s Resident Evil 4’s upcoming remake, which is looking like a blend of the original RE4 and the 2019 RE2 remake.

Would it be accurate to say that none of these games would exist if not for RE2? Obviously not. It’s worth mentioning again that RE2 is far from the only thing responsible for this wave of remakes and horror games- but there’s also no doubting that it has had a huge hand in it nonetheless. Capcom made an incredible game that received nearly unanimous acclaim, and for nearly four years since then, Resident Evil 2 has steadily kept on adding numbers to its lifetime sales. On more than a few occasions, major publishers and developers have talked about how horror games are dead, or how single player experiences no longer have a market. That Resident Evil 2, a single player survival horror remake, has seen the kind of critical and commercial success it has seen, has been a wake-up all for many of those publishers and developers, and the results of the internal changes they’ve made to achieve similar success with their own efforts are clear to see.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.

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