Resident Evil 7 could have been a live service, multiplayer online game riddled with microtransactions and DLC. That’s according to a discussion between creative director Shinji Mikami and executive producer Jun Takeuchi on the official Biohazard YouTube channel.
According to Mikami, Capcom was pressuring their development team to shoehorn popular video game trends at that time, like online multiplayer, live service support, microtransactions and DLCs, to Resident Evil 7. This was almost the case until Takeuchi was asked to step in and join the project.
“When we started working on Resident Evil 7 we went back to that ‘what is horror anyway?’ discussion,” Takeuchi explained. “I talked about it a lot with [Resident Evil 7 director Koshi] Nakanishi – ‘so what are we going to do?’ We’d talked about that stuff even before starting work on Resident Evil 7, actually. And right around that time there was a big push at Capcom, a big ‘marketing’ push, saying ‘we have to make the games players are asking for’.”
During this time, live service games were starting to get more and more popular. And the revenue from microtransactions and DLCs seemed like an untapped source that these big companies could take advantage of. One such example was Blizzard’s Overwatch which ended up being 2016’s game of the year.
“So we were being told ‘make this, make that’, it was really hard on the directors at the time. ‘Online multiplayer’ this, ‘downloadable content’ that. ‘Ongoing service games! Microtransactions! Make a Resident Evil game that ticks all those boxes!’”
“Seriously, there were so many demands… those poor directors. Finally, our president,[Kenzo] Tsujimoto stepped in. He’d heard about all the unsuccessful attempts at that point. So this is one of those unforgettable moments for me.”
“It was January 4, the first working day of the new year. The president called me to his office. ‘Resident Evil 7 is in pretty bad shape. Takeuchi-kun, step in and help make it!’ So that’s how I ended up working on Resident Evil 7.”
Takeuchi then joined the team and pushed to enlist Koshi Nakanishi in as the game’s director. He then made it his mission to prevent the implementation of the egregious live service and microtransaction features that Capcom was trying to get into Resident Evil 7.
Takeuchi deftly went through the list of features that the marketing team was asking to add and see if the requests were justified with respect to Resident Evil’s style. “First, we decided that Resident Evil’s roots are in horror. We talked about it a lot. The idea of multiplayer got killed off pretty quickly. If we could properly put it together we could make an exciting horror multiplayer game, but we didn’t really have any good ideas so we set it aside.”
“We went down the list, chopping them out, until we had marketing’s worst nightmare – a regular old single-player horror game. That’s what we ended up with.”
In the end, the game was a massive success and critics hailed it as a return to form for the series as a horror title. It earned a score of 86, on Metacritic. The game succeeded enough to spawn a sequel, Resident Evil Village, and has also received a next-gen upgrade along with the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3.