Demon's Souls was arguably the sleeper hit of 2009. The brutal title was well received by gamer's and critics, however, prior to its launch, Sony did not expect the title to preform well.
Sony's president of World Wide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida, recently spoke out on why they never published the dungeon crawler outside of Japan.
Speaking to Game Informer, Yoshida says that the main reason why Sony skipped out on Demon's Souls was partly due to the differences between international and Japanese development. In Japan, most game assets are "made in parallel," whereas in Western development, teams usually try from the very beginning to make something that will "resemble the final product". What this means is that during the early stages of development it was hard for Sony to guess how the game would turn out.
During early development, Demon's Souls suffered from a few issues, namely terrible framerate problems. Plus, the only online network, one of the integral and unique features of the title, was not even up and running at the time.
By the time Yoshida was able to play the final product, he wasn't too sure it was up to snuff:
"For my personal experience with Demon’s Souls, when it was close to final I spent close to two hours playing it and after two hours I was still standing at the beginning at the game. I said, 'This is crap. This is an unbelievably bad game.' So I put it aside."
Yoshida and Sony clearly view this as a mistake, as Atlus later took the reins and published the title in North America, too much success. The title would further be published in Europe by Namco, who also went on to publish the game's spiritual successor, Dark Souls.
"Game development is a tough process. We start and stop many games. Some get made to the finish, but we have to make decisions. I hope we won’t make the same mistake again. I should have been more stubborn talking to marketing people here in North America and Europe."
From what Yoshida has revealed about himself in the past, he seems like a very down-to-earth person, compared to other executives - able to recognize Sony's mistakes. It's unfortunate that he passed on Demon's Souls, but then again you can't really blame him. I, personally, purchased the game at the North American launch and have only beaten three bosses - as a result, it's not out of the question to think that such a difficult game might not sell.
But what's the future for Demon's Souls? Sony own the rights to the IP -hence why From Software's latest title is Dark Souls and not Demon's Souls 2 - however Yoshida thinks there is a future for the franchise.
"We never sell our IPs. Well, I should never say never, but it’s not our business. Our business is to grow our IP and we love Demon’s Souls. From Software is a very important business partner, so we’ll see."
Who wants to start thinking of sequel names? I'll start: Demon's Souls 2: The Demoning.
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Source: Game Informer