David Cage, the French creative director who shaped Heavy Rain, has criticised US publishers and marketers for not having faith in his games.
In a wide-ranging interview with Develop, Cage said American marketing departments “have this image of their market being gun-loving red-necks. It’s completely wrong”.
He revealed he was twice asked to change the name of his games for the US, and recounts the “huge arguments” he had with Atari for not promoting his second game, Fahrenheit.
Atari, which had publishing rights for Fahrenheit in the west, enforced the game’s name change to Indigo Prophecy, which Cage tells Develop was a “fucking stupid name”.
Quantic Dream’s first game, called The Nomad Soul, also had its title altered by publisher Eidos.
“The US always have problems with my games, to be honest,” Cage said.
“Nomad Soul was the first to have issues over there. We were asked to change the name over there, so it was called ‘Omikron: The Nomad Soul’, but there was still no confidence that it would sell well in the States, so it wasn’t supported.
“We had huge arguments with Atari in New York about Fahrenheit. We told them they were making a huge mistake not supporting the game – they will see the reviews and they will like what they see. They should have put marketing dollars on the table, and I told them that, but they didn’t want to listen to us.
“When the reviews came in they were even better in the US than they were in Europe, but by the time they realised, it was too late. Fahrenheit sold well in the US, we made money out of it, but it was a slice of the potential, because of this lack of trust.”
Cage said the crux of the problem is what he deems as conservatism within publishing departments.
“Each time you come to marketing departments with very simple concepts, like ‘the hero has ten weapons and goes through twenty levels, and there’s a snow level and a jungle level and a sand level and a whatever level and it’s gonna be so great because I can display more explosions on screen than any other game and…’ then they have it. The marketing departments go, ‘oh that’s really interesting’.
“When you come to them about a game based on a story. Or, a game based on child abduction, they think ‘my god’. It’s very difficult for them to commit to anything that’s remotely different.”
He said the only solution to the problem is tenacity. “Keep at it; game after game, get more trust. Show them how successful you are, and hope that eventually they, and the whole industry, will turn around.”
Quantic Dream’s third game, Heavy Rain, was its most commercially and critically successful. Latest figures suggest the game has sold more than two million copies around the world.
In the full interview with Develop, Cage also recounts the moment he nearly quit the games industry after founding the Paris-based Quantic Dream fifteen years ago.
He also discusses the studio’s future, its relationship with Sony, and why he won’t be building a Heavy Rain sequel.