Forum > Gaming Discussion > Why does cel-shading translate to failure at retail?
Why does cel-shading translate to failure at retail?
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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 18:17:25
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This is something that has been bugging me for a while.  As gg has many times pointed out, there seems to be a pretty clear negative correlation between having cel-shaded graphics in a game and commercial success.  I know it may not be the only reason as to why some games don't sell (after all they may just be bad games) but I think it can't be denied that comparable games differ significantly in sales in favour of games whose graphics are not cel-shaded.

I won't go through examples as I am not trying to prove a point.  Rather I am looking for possible reasons for this as personally I find that it can make for some very unique and very beautiful games.  I mean, after all most gamers love comics!  They love animation and cartoons (not saying it's all cel-shaded).

Why do you think it is?
Edited: Wed, 13 Jan 2010 19:11:35

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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 19:07:06
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Does this not look awesome?



what about this?



or this?



or this?



how about this?



this?



this?



this?



what about my personal favourite?



more?



what style!



what beauty!



this looks so cool



i love you level 5



i love you atlus



i want more Sly Cooper games Sony



i want more cel-shaded Zelda (and others) Nintendo



this one is for Leo



this one for gigi



this one for ask



this one for robio



this one for steel



this one for vader



this is for iga who knew it was belgian when i thought is was french


Edited: Wed, 13 Jan 2010 19:14:37

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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 19:13:34
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Hmmm, could you list cel-shaded games, because there might be other reasons for lesser sales.
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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 19:16:59
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i looked for a list on wikipedia.  i don't know if it's comprehensive but i will link that for what it's worth

wikipedia list

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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 19:31:25
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Dragon Quest is cel-shaded and it sold billions in Japan. I think your premise cel-shaded = no sales is not really supported by the facts. I think that usually cel-shaded games are niches games, things like XIII and Killer 7 does not scream mainstream to me. 
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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 20:48:27
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Hey bugs! Interesting question.

Iga_Bobovic said:
I think your premise cel-shaded = no sales is not really supported by the facts. I think that usually cel-shaded games are niches games, things like XIII and Killer 7 does not scream mainstream to me.

Exactly what I was thinking. At least with western games a lot of the times that style is used for non franchise one time games.

I would be interested in what the numbers are in Japan because in general I thought Japan was more open to using illustration for design etc while in the west it is more geared towards photography ie. realism.

Plus, when you're trying to do non stylized photo type graphics something either looks like what it is or it doesn't. It's much easier to be accepted by people. With illustration you're talking about creating an aesthetic that some people may hate and others love. Stick with realism and no one may love it as a visual masterpiece but it won't turn anyone off either.

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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 21:01:12
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You know what I find weird?! MadWorld is clearly inspired by Manga (and Sin City), but yet they have not released it in Japan until very recently. Why did they make it so violent? You know that the average manga reader is a teen girl/boy. So why overshoot that market by making it impossible for them to play? I think MadWorld is a cool game, but there is a economic reason why Clover failed. And quite frankly Platinum has not learned a lesson from that.
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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 21:05:39
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Yeah I don't think it's because the games are cell-shaded that they do poorly in sales. There's been some that have sold very well like Street Fighter IV, Dragon Quest VIII, Windwaker, etc. Isn't Borderlands is cell-shaded too? That one did very well not to mention it was a new IP.

1176413.png

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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 21:16:31
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Iga_Bobovic said:
You know what I find weird?! MadWorld is clearly inspired by Manga (and Sin City), but yet they have not released it in Japan until very recently.

I wonder who they were making the game for? Were they shooting for some teen western audience and didn't give a damn about Japan?


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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 21:25:46

angrymonkey said:

Iga_Bobovic said:
You know what I find weird?! MadWorld is clearly inspired by Manga (and Sin City), but yet they have not released it in Japan until very recently.

I wonder who they were making the game for? Were they shooting for some teen western audience and didn't give a damn about Japan?


 Who knows?! Probably for themselves. Can you imagine this happening in another industry? Like designing weird huge cranes because you think it is cool? While the customer wants something that is simple and gets the job done. The gaming industry is very childish compared to other industries.

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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 21:32:14

Iga_Bobovic said:

angrymonkey said:

Iga_Bobovic said:
You know what I find weird?! MadWorld is clearly inspired by Manga (and Sin City), but yet they have not released it in Japan until very recently.

I wonder who they were making the game for? Were they shooting for some teen western audience and didn't give a damn about Japan?


Who knows?! Probably for themselves. Can you imagine this happening in another industry? Like designing weird huge cranes because you think it is cool? While the customer wants something that is simple and gets the job done. The gaming industry is very childish compared to other industries.

i am actually thankful there are developers brave enough to do punk games because i thoroughly enjoy them.  i am all for it being mature, but i don't want it to become a Jurassic industry

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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 21:36:37

bugsonglass said:

Iga_Bobovic said:

angrymonkey said:

Iga_Bobovic said:
You know what I find weird?! MadWorld is clearly inspired by Manga (and Sin City), but yet they have not released it in Japan until very recently.

I wonder who they were making the game for? Were they shooting for some teen western audience and didn't give a damn about Japan?


Who knows?! Probably for themselves. Can you imagine this happening in another industry? Like designing weird huge cranes because you think it is cool? While the customer wants something that is simple and gets the job done. The gaming industry is very childish compared to other industries.

i am actually thankful there are developers brave enough to do punk games because i thoroughly enjoy them.  i am all for it being mature, but i don't want it to become a Jurassic industry

 In cinema you have the arthouse movies, but no one expects them to be blockbusters. The gaming industry really needs to move away from that blockbuster model. And they need to better manage their expectations

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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 21:39:22

Those pics drive home the point, some of my favourite games and other people's fan favourites and many/most of them underperformed at retail.

Maybe the gaming market is young males who want to get away from what they perceive to be a kiddish comic book style?

Or in the case of arty looking cel-shading, you avoid it like you avoid arty looking films or books?

Archangel3371 said:

Yeah I don't think it's because the games are cell-shaded that they do poorly in sales. There's been some that have sold very well like Street Fighter IV, Dragon Quest VIII, Windwaker, etc.

Think about the games you listed, yeah they are all decades old, huge, well known IP. Those franchise games suffer less. Personally I wouldn't call SFIV cel-shading when it piles on so much detail, it's almost cartoon realism. You can see bumps on bumps. Plus its essentially a retro game whose artstyle was defined in the early 90s, people recognise that, to make it realistic like Gears of War in 2D would not work.

Look at Wind Waker sales compared to Twilight Princess, there's a 2.5 million gap there.

XIII is not a niche game, it's a FPS with stealth elements but everyone at the time wanted to play realistic WWII FPS. Here's a good question: if the world war 2 shooters back then were cel-shaded do you think they would have been as popular? If XIII featured realistic graphics would it have been more popular?

Games like Borderland are an anomoly. There are niche games that happen to have cel-shaded graphics that sell in small amounts. Yes there are large franchise games with cel-shaded graphics that do markedly better. But from what I can tell if you are a new IP and cel-shaded its almost the kiss of death. Borderlands is an exception, not a rule.

What you can say about Zelda or Prince of Persia is that their cel-shaded versions did perform worse then realistic versions.

How about this, the next Call of Duty being cel-shaded, how would that go over? Cel-shaded Gears of War? Cel-shaded Uncharted 3? These games would sell less for sure, so when games like Zelda and Prince of Persia get cel-shaded people should expect less sales from the off.

I think for a game like Red Steel 2 which only established itself as a minor franchise hit, 3 long years ago. To cel-shade it now it a baaaaad idea, commercially at least.

This debate almost makes me remember how CG movies like Toy Story killed traditional 2D animation in the west. Now, hand drawn animation is niche.  

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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 21:54:02

XIII was based of a Belgian comic that was not even translated in English at the time. The only market that knew about XIII as a comic was the Dutch, Belgian and French market. Not really a big blockbuster franchise.

Price of Persia have always performed under expectations. The Prince went emo, because Sand of Times did not sell well for example.

Windwaker sold less because people wanted an adult Link. The problem was not necessary cel-shading, but the childish character design.

RS2 would be interesting, I think RS sold well because the sword fighting was something that really sparks the imagination. If they use the same type of commercial plus sell it with WM+ and it gets good word of mouth (i.e. it is actually good) it cold sell more than the original. 

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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 21:54:48
You know what I want to see? A call of duty plasticine style shooter.


Iga_Bobovic said:

Windwaker sold less because people wanted an adult Link. The problem was not necessary cel-shading, but the childish character design.

Heard that one lots - makes me angry. I thought the design was great.

Edited: Wed, 13 Jan 2010 21:58:29
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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 22:02:14

angrymonkey said:
You know what I want to see? A call of duty plasticine style shooter.


Iga_Bobovic said:

Windwaker sold less because people wanted an adult Link. The problem was not necessary cel-shading, but the childish character design.

Heard that one lots - makes me angry. I thought the design was great.

 I prefer adult link, but I had no problem with Toon Link. Toon Link is awesome.

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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 22:09:33

angrymonkey said:
You know what I want to see? A call of duty plasticine style shooter.


Iga_Bobovic said:

Windwaker sold less because people wanted an adult Link. The problem was not necessary cel-shading, but the childish character design.

Heard that one lots - makes me angry. I thought the design was great.

now everybody seems to have always loved the windwaker.  design and everything.  for a long time it was the black sheep of the zeldas.

i think the only reason the first red steel sold well was timing.  at launch other than twilight princess there were practically no games that were not either a mini game compilation, or a half-baked port of a last generation game.  red steel was almost a proper game and it was pretty well hyped up, so it did really well since it had no competition.

red steel 2 to me simply looks fantastic.  if it plays half as good as it looks it will still be a great game

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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 22:13:58

angrymonkey said:
You know what I want to see? A call of duty plasticine style shooter.


Iga_Bobovic said:

Windwaker sold less because people wanted an adult Link. The problem was not necessary cel-shading, but the childish character design.

Heard that one lots - makes me angry. I thought the design was great.

Link's been a kid in a lot of Zelda games. That's like saying Majora sold less because he was a kid. No, Majora sold less because of its design and save structure.

bugsonglass said:

red steel 2 to me simply looks fantastic.  if it plays half as good as it looks it will still be a great game

It could be a good game, but I don't think it will sell as much as the first, quote me on that because I would be happy to be wrong.

Gaming is all about the movie like experience these days, the cinematic "epic" looking games. Not the hand drawn cel-shaded omg its like a comic book look.

Gamers want action, shiney effects and lots of explosions. Cel-shading is flat and arty in comparison, hence uncommercial.

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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 22:23:09

Majora's Mask sold less because of the PS2. It was released at the very end of the generation.

I would not be too sure about RS2, GG. If they market it like the first one and they show people swinging the sword and the same thing is replicated on-screen they might get some of the Wii Sports crowd. I think that is what happened to RS1, swinging swords and shooting gun speaks to the imagination. RS2 again with good marketing, good word of mouth could sell really well. Could be an absolute flop also. Depends on the quality of game and advertising.


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Wed, 13 Jan 2010 22:43:46
RS2 will need 80% or higher in reviews and the controls need to be as good as wii resort for it to have any chance at selling like the first one. Then it boils down to how much people like the style and setting of the game.
I love the idea of a cel shaded post-apocalypse western but I don't know how mainstream that is. Maybe if it was a dark tower(stephen king) license or had zombies (  with how popular zombies are I think capcom could have been raking in more cash from the wii if they wanted). I'm guessing it will do maybe half million in total if reviews are decent.
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