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EA thought only 2 million people would buy a single-player Dead Space 3

A decade ago, the horror genre's niche appeal meant its biggest franchises like Dead Space were trying what they could to get more sales, for better and worse.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

October 31, 2023

2 Min Read
Isaac Clarke in key art for Visceral Games' Dead Space 3.
Image via Visceral Games/EA.

According to Visceral Games' story producer Chuck Beaver, the audience for single-player horror games was big, but not big enough back in 2013.

In a recent interview with YouTuber CaptainBribo, he revealed that a decade ago, interest in such titles seemed to be capped at "around 2 million people." That's a sizable number, he noted, but it added up to  "literally nothing" when taking development costs into account.

That upper limit is important to note, given the franchise Beaver previously worked on. Dead Space 3, now over 10 years old, introduced co-op to the franchise, a controversial move back then given the first two games being largely single-player affairs. 

During the 2010s, a number of triple-A horror franchises such as Resident Evil and FEAR introduced co-op or competitive multiplayer (or both) as a way to draw in payers. Those gambits didn't always take with audiences, with many calling the inclusion a betrayal of those series' roots and core appeal. 

Beaver acknowledged this a core problem with Dead Space 3, saying it lost what players loved about the first two installments. "The gun mechanic, the re-crafting...[we wanted] to expand into other gameplay genres and stuff, and I think all those bits together not only didn’t generate a new audience, they lost the old audience."

The risk Visceral took was calculated, he continued, but hurt by the apparent fact that Visceral "[wasn't] allowed to make a horror game from the beginning. So creative director Ben Wanat and I were like, 'Well what are we making?'"

Single player horror today

In the years since Dead Space 3, the tide has turned more towards single-player horror's direction. Capcom's remakes for older Resident Evil games (and new installments like Resident Evil Village) have sold and been received quite well.

Earlier today, Remedy revealed that the remastered version of Alan Wake finally sold enough to break even, helped by the recent launch of Alan Wake II. Remedy Entertainment didn't disclose figures, but the strong positive reception has helped give it a "strong basis" for sales. 

While EA hasn't given hard numbers for the remake of the original Dead Space, it was reportedly the second bestselling game of January 2023. The title has recently been added to Xbox Game Pass in the spirit of Halloween. 

In other cases, different numbers do the talking. With 2022's Ghostwire Tokyofor example, Bethesda has often highlighted how many have played it (on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Game Pass), and that performance has apparently been strong enough to allegedly warrant a sequel.

Much like a good scare, the love for single-player horror games just took some time to make itself known.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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