Resident Evil 7 was apparently almost a live-service game with microtransactions and online multiplayer functionality, according to executive producer Jun Takeuchi. These elements were ultimately dropped to create what Takeuchi describes as "marketing's worst nightmare".
Why was Resident Evil 7 almost a live-service game?
In a new interview between Jun Takeuchi and industry legend Shinji Mikami, the two reminisce about Resident Evil, as well as the horror genre in general and various other topics. Takeuchi says that there was "a big push at Capcom" to make the kind of games "players are asking for". Apparently, the Capcom marketing department interpreted this as making a Resident Evil game with live-service elements, microtransactions, a focus on online multiplayer, and lots of downloadable content. That last one doesn't seem so far-fetched, but this nightmare vision of Resident Evil 7 as a live-service game is scarier than anything in the finished product.
According to Takeuchi, Capcom president Kenzo Tsujimoto personally asked him to step in and guide Resident Evil 7's development after the dev team and marketing couldn't agree on a direction for the game. Under Takeuchi's direction, the game gradually shed its extras, with multiplayer being thrown from the balloon pretty early on. The team "went down the list, chopping [elements] out" until they were left with what Takeuchi calls "marketing's worst nightmare" in the form of a single-player horror game.
This didn't dissuade Takeuchi from making what Shinji Mikami called "a game that's scary for the players and the creators" earlier in their interview. Both Mikami and Takeuchi agree that the core of Resident Evil is horror, and that no matter what else changes (with Takeuchi specifically referring to absurdist moments like Ethan getting his hand reattached or the Baker household's strange puzzles), that's the most important element. As far as we're concerned, Resident Evil 7 was a major success on that front.
What else did we learn from Takeuchi and Mikami's interview?
As well as Resident Evil, Mikami and Takeuchi also discuss Mikami's aspirations in the gaming industry. Mikami worked for Capcom between 1990 and 2004, during which time he released his first game, a Game Boy quiz title by the name of Capcom Quiz: Hatena? no Daiboken. That game apparently cost around $66,000 and took just three months to make, with a staff of three people. Takeuchi says there's "no way" a team of three could make a game in three months with $66,000 now, although I suspect he might be overlooking the indie development scene somewhat when he says that.
Perhaps more interesting are Mikami's comments about his work at Tango Gameworks, the company he established in 2010. Mikami served as director on Tango's inaugural project The Evil Within, shifting to a producer role for The Evil Within 2 and Ghostwire: Tokyo. Despite this resume, Mikami says his studio still hasn't "properly made the game [he wants] yet". Apparently, he's "slowly preparing" to do so; it might not be long before we hear more about Tango Gameworks' next project.
It's well worth watching the full Mikami and Takeuchi interview, as the two discuss much more than just Resident Evil 7. They touch on the development process for the original Resident Evil, including some fun details about a cut character, as well as what game development was like in the 16-bit era and what horror means to both of them. This is apparently just the first part of the interview, too, so there's every chance we could be getting more soon. Stay tuned for more info as we get it.