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Opinion Analysis Shuhei Yoshidas way to redemption - From Demon´s Souls to Demon´s Souls

Harry Tung

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Jun 1, 2018
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In 2008, Tokyo Game Show was quite the big deal. It was a show for both the casual audience and for business insiders and developers alike. It was the biggest game show in the world next to E3. It was right here, at this show, that we saw the birth of one of the greatest video games stories to date. In 2008 we had our first glimpse of an unknown future, one that would shape an entire industry, that would shake up the very foundation of gaming in a way we rarely see, and leave a lasting legacy that is unheard of today. And it happened in the most unusual and unorthodox way.

Demon´s Souls was revealed to the world for the first time in 2008 at Tokyo Game Show. It was developed by From Software exclusively for Playstation 3 as a spiritual successor to King´s Field, a franchise with strong ties to Playstation, and it was to be published by Sony, who funded the entirety of the development costs in exchange for the IP rights.

On Tokyo Game Show, Demon´s Souls was met with harsh criticism by casuals and critics alike. Many people thought the game was incomplete and unfinished, that it more resembled an alpha build than a finished game. Director Hidetaka Miyazaki mentioned once that it was heartbreaking when he had to explain to the confused players that Demon´s Souls was nearly completed. A lot of the attendees at the show barely played for 10 minutes before putting the controller down, calling the demo "nothing short of a disaster."

Enter Shuhei Yoshida. Around this time he was the man. He was President of SIE Worldwide Studios and his job was to assure that the quality of Sonys first party games was up to par with the standard they´ve set with previous generations. When it was his turn to review Demon´s Souls he left unimpressed, just as the audience at Tokyo Game Show did. He playtested it for two straight hours, and when he couldn´t even finish the first stage (1-1 Boletaria Castle) he flat out said the game was crap. "It was unbelievably bad", he said and shaked his head. Because of his negative reaction to Demon´s Souls, Sony refused to publish it outside of Japan.

Demon´s Souls was considered dead on arrival. With zero support from Sony, and From Software being ridiculed worldwide for their status as a low tier game developer, Demon´s Souls flopped hard in Japan. It barely broke 20.000 sold copies in its first week.

"That was it", Hidetaka Miyazaki said. "That was my big break. But I´m still very proud of the game and I didn´t compromise my vision. Demon´s Souls is everything that I wanted it to be."

Demon´s Souls was a hardcore game created for the hardcore audience. No bullshit marketing testing. No chasing trends. No cinematic flare. Just a pure experience designed by people with an undeniable love for classic video games. The games rough nature started to attract a certain audience in the US, who praised it for being a love letter to the tough as nails video games they grew up with in the 80s. They praised it for the bad ass bosses you could defeat. For the innovative game design with all the hidden secrets that laid within. For its complex stature and groundbreaking network features.

Atlus picked up the signals that resonated from gamers abroad and realized Demon´s Souls potential. In a sudden turn of event, Atlus localized the game and published it in the US. In just short of a year, Demon´s Souls became a resounding success, with over a million copies sold, which led to Bandai Namco taking over the reigns and publishing it in Europe.

From Software decided to move away from Sony and partnered with Bandai Namco, who published their next game Dark Souls worldwide. Dark Souls was a spiritual successor to Demon´s Souls, and was quickly established as a groundbreaking new IP. The fanbase began to multiply as did the copycats. The term "Souls-like" started to appear. It was apparent that Sony had understimated the potential of the franchise, of From Software and of Hidetaka Miyazaki.

"Dropping the ball on Demon´s Souls was our biggest mistake", Shuhei Yoshida said when he pondered about the blunder to not publish Demon´s Souls worldwide. The "Souls"-franchise could have been one of the strongest franchises of Playstation, yet it went multiplat because Sony failed to understand it. They failed to push their own property.

Shuhei Yoshida had to live with this mistake for a good portion of his career. He had to sit and watch From Software become one of the most respected developers of all time, courting the hardcore audience like no one had ever done before, in a time where every developer wanted to go Hollywood and make their own Uncharted. From Software turned the video game industry on its own head by literally saying "fuck you" to everything it was known for and they were rewarded heavily for it. A big mistake like that stings, especially if you work at Sony, who are (in)famous for going out of their way to appease their hardcore audience. Shu knew that he had to correct his mistake, no matter the cost.

In order to make up for his failure and start rebuilding his relationship with From Software and their partnership with Sony, he began setting up the stage for a new IP. He basically gave Hidetaka Miyazaki and From Software carte blanche to create Bloodborne, as a way to apologize for his handling of Demon´s Souls. Shuhei Yoshida presented the game himself at the E3 stage in 2014 and Bloodborne was met with critical acclaim right from the get go. The game became one of the most notorious new IPs on the PS4 and the first big exclusive to deliver on its promises. The gothic and twisted world of Yharnam was a huge hit with players all over the world and it was widely regarded as From Softwares best work to date. Shuhei Yoshida was also recorded on a video of him taking on the Watchdog of the Old Lords as a way to show how much he loved the game.

Despite Bloodbornes success and From and Sony reuniting again after their strained relationship with Demon´s Souls, Shuhei knew that he had one more task to complete. He had to find a way to relaunch Demon´s Souls to a new and bigger audience. Demon´s Souls may have a cult following but the game is still pretty niche with a lot of players missing out. He had to make sure that the game he once called "complete crap" was given another chance to shine, to be shown to the world in a new and exciting way like never before seen. Demon´s Souls was the progenitor to the resurgence of hardcore gaming and therefore it needed to come back.

And yesterday, at Sonys PS5 reveal event, the long rumoured remake of Demon´s Souls took center stage. It is being remade from the ground up by remaster veterans Bluepoint games, and it was presented by none other than Shuhei Yoshida himself. Before the video he said that the game was very dear to his heart, and after everything that Demon´s Souls has gone through, with all the controversy surrounding it and the fanbase it created, you could feel the sincerity of his words from across the screen. He´s most likely worked the latter part of his career to make up for what happened in 2008 and finally he was given the chance to reintroduce the game in the way he should have done in the first place.

The circle is now complete. After an entire decade, Shuhei Yoshida has completed his final task. He has atoned for his sins. And Sony will never drop the ball again with one of their IPs, especially not one developed by From Software.

All hail the return of the king.

 
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Dontero

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Apr 19, 2018
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great fanfic

Not a fanfic though.

Sony did not publish game outside of Japan because like poster said Sony thought it was crap and Yoshida did say it. When BluePoint went to Sony for their next project they surely didn't pick Demon's Souls out of blue.

The only thing that doesn't check out is that game actually started to sell later and people even imported copies of it to US and Europe which is why Atlus picked up it. There were ton of hyped people before game was released in US officially.

Sony indeed dropped ball so hard that it is hard to comprehend.
 
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Tarin02543

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Excellent post. My ps3 copy has been sold many moons ago, but I'm looking forward to visiting Boletaria again with my PS5.
 
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Tomeru

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I bought the game three times; one eu, one jp and one us. I platinumed two of them, but stopped mid way through my us copy to play other games.

Masterpiece. I have the highest expectations from this remake.
 

odhin

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Shu's way to redemption already happened long time ago tho, with BB.
The support he (they) showed to Bloodborne and From Software was a blatant "mea culpa" for their treatment of Demon's Souls.
 
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