2010 has been a good year for gaming. The slew of massive successes that this year has seen means two very different things for the industry: that a few studios and publishers have never been happier, and that it is also getting harder for smaller games to compete. But at Visceral Games, developers of the cult-hit Dead Space, confidence is at an all-time high. Dead Space 2 is still months away from release, but the fan support that has grown around mining engineer Isaac's epic quest to survive amidst an onslaught of demonic monsters is incredibly uncommon.
Fans who will line up to purchase a game on launch date in droves can do great things for a game's future, and with the advertising blitz that EA has put behind Dead Space 2, the team at Visceral is already considering future installments. In an interview with Eurogamer, Executive Producer Steve Papoutsis gave some insight into what Visceral sees in their future:
"We've mapped out where we'd like to go with it. Not at a super high level of detail. But, for instance, we've just released our novel, Martyr. We've talked about the inception of the Unitology religion.
"We've thought about it all. But ultimately, just like with Dead Space 2, we have to have the support from the players in order to do it."
And at this point, it seems that Visceral has done just about everything they can to not only please their existing fans, but to draw new audiences to Dead Space. With the addition of multiplayer, new combat and weapon mechanics, and a release to the portable market, Dead Space 2 seems set to build upon the foundation of its predecessor.
Papoutsis also pointed out just how much the support they received from fans and critics played a role in giving them the opportunity to make a sequel, and how continued support would go a long way in extending the franchise:
"Games are complex and expensive. It really helps when you've got a lot of people who are excited and supportive of what you're doing. We can do great things when that happens.
"We're working really hard to make sure this game's better so we get a chance to do Dead Space 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10 and 20."
Games that are loved by both players and critics are not to be wasted, and it seems that EA is doing everything it can to make the most of Dead Space's fan following. From guest appearances by the protagonist in other titles, to special fan merchandise, EA is obviously extremely optimistic about this franchise. Papoutsis and the rest of the team at Visceral are clearly invested in the story and characters, and willing to follow where the fans demand they go.
Fans can be a fickle bunch, and it is truly a special thing when they commit to a story and developer in the way they have to Dead Space, and Papoutsis himself acknowledged just what a privileged position Visceral find themselves in:
"It's pretty cool. We're all really into it. The fact that so many people care about what we're making — we've all been making games for years. It doesn't happen often where you get this level of support.
"I worked on a lot of different games. I worked on Tiger Woods, Lord of the Rings games, James Bond games, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver — 15 years worth of games. This is probably the most support I've ever seen for a franchise I've been on. So it's pretty cool."
It's always nice to hear a development team talking about a franchise that they enjoy working on enough to speak about several sequels, and Visceral's acknowledgement of their fans is refreshing. In the little time since Dead Space's release, both the weapons and Isaac's unique helmet have become a trademark so widely recognized that even people who haven't played through the entire game (myself included) know who it belongs to. Fans of the series obviously have quite a lot to look forward to if its success continues, and that's always good news for gamers.
But before you get ahead of yourselves, remember that the next installment in the Dead Space saga, Dead Space 2 comes to the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC January 25th, 2011.