Devil May Cry Is One of Capcom’s Best Franchises, But Is It Sustainable?

Devil May Cry Is One of Capcom’s Best Franchises, But Is It Sustainable?

Veteran publisher/developer/slot machine enthusiasts Capcom has recently updated the sales list for their Platinum games (titles that have sold more than one million copies), and the numbers are as large as they are juicy.

Languishing at the bottom of that select list at a mere 2.5 million units shifted is Devil May Cry 5, a universally critical success (we gave it a solid 9/10 here at WellPlayed) that represented some classic form from Capcom engineered for a new era. In fact, a perusal of the full list of Platinum titles (comprising 89 multi-million dollar selling titles over Capcom’s history), shows DMC5 to be the 24th best-selling title on the list after only six months in the wild, and it is well and truly posed to become the bestselling game in the DMC franchise (DMC4 is next highest on 3.0 million units). But like only adding half a tub of butter to some quality mashed potatoes, you have to ask – is it enough? (trick question: it’s never enough).

AAA development is a wild and expensive beast, and expectations over sale and longevity have increased dramatically as a result. We can famously recall when Square Enix stopped short of tweeting a sad face emoji when Tomb Raider (a fantastic reboot of the series which almost stole my game of the generation) sold a paltry 3.4 million in a month. So are DMC5’s sales enough to be considered profitable? Short of locking Capcom’s financial advisors in a basement and demanding a cost/benefit analysis it’s unlikely we’ll really know if the franchise has paid dividends over time, but on the face if it the number of sales for a AAA game do seem a little low. Capcom have been quoted in an official looking document that DMC5 did perform above expectations, so maybe it’s time to let the financial advisor out of my basement… but I still have lingering doubts.

Gettin’ too old for this shit

Despite some of their shadier practices, Capcom are an iconic publishing and developing machine; they effectively invented the survival horror genre with the Resident Evil and Dino Crisis series, set the benchmark for 1v1 fighting games with the Street Fighter series and more or less created a genre unto itself with the Monster Hunter franchise. All of these series have done incredibly well for Capcom over the years, even the dumpster fire Resident Evil Racoon City Operations stands tall at #23 on the Capcom bestseller list with 2.5 million units sold. Devil May Cry too holds its place in history as a skill-based hack ‘n’ slash juggernaut that popularised a fast-paced combo-based subgenre, and has always been a feather in Capcom’s fancy hat. But has it ever sold Monster Hunter or Resident Evil numbers? Not even close. Will it ever approach those numbers? No, not in this life. Does it matter? That’s the question that should keep DMC fans awake.

There were eleven long years between the release of the fourth and fifth numbered DMC entries (with Ninja Theory’s brilliant yet divisive DmC: Devil May Cry sandwiched in there somewhere), how long are we likely to wait for the next one if the Capcom team think they’re only appealing to a small niche within the context of their larger franchises? The answer is probably too long, but hopefully not never. I hate to think that a series that has maintained such an extreme level of quality over all its iterations (except for DMC2, which in my exclusive version of reality never actually existed) could fall victim to the perception that it can’t manage to shift the billions of units required to justify the development muscle necessary to maintain that level of quality in the current age.

I like my milk free-range, organic and vegan. Guess I just care about the planet

If this article has done any good in this world, hopefully it’s to convince those who have never picked up a DMC game to give it a fair shake of the sauce bottle. Don’t let yourself be the one lamenting as you hold the franchise’s sexy corpse exclaiming you should have been the one to fill its dark soul with liiiiiigggghhhht.

Kieran is a consummate troll and outspoken detractor of the Uncharted series. He once fought a bear in the Alaskan wilderness while on a spirit quest and has a PhD in organic synthetic chemistry XBL: Shadow0fTheDog PSN: H8_Kill_Destroy