Heavy Rain Director Wants Publishers to Take More Risks

The director of Heavy Rain has encouraged game publishers to take more risks in the content of what they produce. He is emboldened by the success of his game which exceeded his own expectations.

David Cage, in an interview with the guardian.co.uk Games Blog, said that reception to Heavy Rain proves that there is an audience for games with more mature content. “As Heavy Rain is very positively received, I believe it clearly states that gamers are eager to play different types of games,” he said. “Publishers should dare to take more risks and give more importance to creativity.”

The first place in which Cage points this out is Heavy Rain’s commercial performance. “I never doubted that there was an audience for more mature content,” Cage said. “I feared that few people would give the game a chance.”

Heavy Rain just managed to crack the 10th place in February’s NPDs despite being a new IP that eschews the traditional experience of a video game and an almost total lack of advertising from Sony. By comparison, the game sold faster than MAG – a first person shooter that received ample advertising but didn’t chart at all. Both games came out in the last week of a month.

“Few people (including me) would have predicted that the game would be number one on all platforms both in Europe and in the US,” Cage said.

Heavy Rain’s critical reception also surprised Cage. “I was also expecting more polarized reactions to the game.”

Heavy Rain breaks with most of the rules used by video games for 20 years,” he said. “I thought that there would be a lot of resistance against that.” Cage noted that at the time of the interview Heavy Rain had a 90% average review score.

The part of Heavy Rain that got the positive reception is exactly what Cage was going for – the range of emotions it conveyed to players and critics. “Some media used to talk about video games only to say how violent or addictive they could be,” he said. “With Heavy Rain, they talked about the story of the game and the emotions they felt while playing.”

Cage pointed out one review that focused on things most game reviews don’t. “The journalist just wrote about what he felt playing the game, his emotions, his thoughts,” Cage said. “He never mentions the technology, the graphics or the interface that are usually the main points of focus for a game.”

Cage said that this is what sets apart his philosophy on game development. “Technology and graphics are just tools to create emotions, nothing more. Some games sometimes seem to believe the tool is more important than the content.”

Cage said that what most games currently provide – great technology and fun gameplay, by themselves severely limit the emotional range they can deliver. “Some of the most recent games available today have reached a fantastic level of implementation with those paradigms [like enemies and puzzles],” he said. “And still, most of these games still feel empty, meaningless, making the player feel nothing more than stress, fear and tension.”

Cage gave his reasoning for why publishers are usually averse to anything outside of those emotions. “When you believe games can only be toys for kids and that you are successful at doing this, why would you look further and take risks exploring new directions?”