Death’s Stranding sits at a nexus of industry mistakes that has culminated in its now reported failure. Initially, the game appeared to be an absolute success. At one point, a record three million users were active on the PS4 and in Japan, it had one of the most successful new IP launches of the generation, according to Kitguru.
Then according to the latest leak from Dusk Golem, as picked up by Game World Observer, sales fell flat. A trend afflicting several major games, including Resident Evil 3, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, and infamously Gears of War 5. Wherein marketing manages to drive exceedingly good launch sales, but once people have a chance to experience the game, sales nosedive in subsequent weeks.
Death’s Stranding didn’t do itself any favors with its marketing that talked about social divides while attacking Trump and Brexit supporters. Both of which have achieved mainstream popularity in the interim. Leaving only isolated pockets of progressives who isolate themselves from the broader society that they hold in absolute contempt as not agreeing with them.
Ironically, as you’ll see, for a while whenever people would criticize Death’s Stranding, I’d always have a prepared retort. After whoever I was talking with finished their critique, I’d agree and then point out to them Kojima got Sony to write a blank check for that. Their eyes would light up, a smile spread across their face, and Death’s Stranding suddenly wasn’t so bad. After all, it stuck it to Sony and apparently that joke is dead accurate.
Sony is reported to have spent a great deal of money on the development of Death’s Stranding. Only for over three million units to sit in warehouses gathering dust. Similar to the original Tomb Raider reboot, Square intended for the game to sell millions more than it wound up doing so.
If you thought the end product didn’t look a thing like the originally teased game, that is because a year and a half before it was released, it was rebooted. With the implication being Sony were unhappy with the dark nature, the original game’s direction had taken. After other studios complained about how Kojima was Sony’s favorite, Sony refused to extend the release date leaving many aspects of the game to feel somewhat unfulfilling.
Now comes the part of the rumor I am personally skeptical of. That of the assertion Konami is working with Sony and Kojima to develop a new Silent Hill game. An arrangement Konami themselves have previously denied.
As previously covered, a Silent Hill game is in development, but as Konami has stated, not as reported. Referring to the at the time rumor Sony was rebooting the franchise and had an episodic game also in development.
Over the next few months, we’ll know for sure as Sony is likely to tease a Silent Hill game to gain some hype for their PlayStation 5’s launch. Will that be enough to overcome the negative PR over its weaker design, hardware issues, and Last of US 2 fiasco? That is doubtful.
I can actually talk about this a bit. Now keep in my I’m a bit murky on the details, this is from my understanding also, I’m going to try to get what I’ve heard as accurate as possible but I’m also cutting parts of this out. I’m also about to say some controversial things for some, so be ready. None of this is from any source I personally can verify, but it is what I’ve heard.
Death Stranding was a flop. It sold well initially, but I’ve heard it has over 3 million unsold copies of what’s been produced, but the sales kinda’ slowed to a crawl and the game hasn’t done as well as anyone involved has been hoping. Death Stranding was also originally supposed to be a very different game, a lot darker and more horror-esque, but around a year and a half before launch the development got soft rebooted. Sony and Kojima had some disagreements, and some other studios at Sony’s Worldwide Studios were a bit upset at the money Kojima was getting for the game, along with disagreements lead to Death Stranding not ending up as a PS5 game and a sharper window for release even after the soft reboot. There’s a looooot more here, but this is the part I’ll share that’s relevant.
So originally Sony and Konami came to a deal when Konami was shopping around for Silent Hill developers, I am not entirely clear on the details but Toyama had been interested in doing a horror game, but the Siren IP is kinda’ more of a niche thing and would get a lower budget. Somehow, I wish I was more clear on the details, but SOMEHOW a few variables fells into place that Sony went out of their way to work with Konami to allow Toyama to work on a horror game, but a horror game with more recognition behind it than Siren, which of course I mean Silent Hill. Sony also seemed to have the idea since Death Stranding was a loss for them that getting Kojima to finally work on a horror game like he’s been wanting to, have Konami help fit the bill for Kojima’s and Toyama’s game (as Konami was going to help fund whatever game anyways). There was some Japanese pride on Kojima Pro’s side since Death Stranding didn’t do too great, so they want to prove themselves more. Sony is fine with that but not to make a game without as bloated of a budget as DS, and they believe that a horror game or even a Silent Hill game as a brand with recognition and already pre-built hype with his named attached might make more financial return for them and be a strong title for their platform. Kojima making a horror game and making Silent Hills has hype behind it, Toyama and Team Silent members returning to make a new Silent Hill game has hype behind it, and Sony and Konami were able to strike a deal that made both parties happy and mutually benefited both of them.
This is a super oversimplification, but basically Konami just wanted someone to make a good Silent Hill game and was willing to fund the pitch they selected, Sony was interested due to what Toyama wanted for his next project and the possibility of getting Kojima to do a smaller budget game after Death Stranding was a failure which they believe would have interest for gamers, and a deal was worked out with Sony and Konami both funding these projects (though let me clarify, the Kojima game is still in the talks at this point in time).