Demon’s Souls Remaster or Sequel in the works?

Most Souls players arrived at the series after the title that set actually started this new genre: Demon’s Souls. Having launched in Japan in February 2009, many players wonder why the title was never remastered or offered internationally for Playstation Now. In this article, we explore the possibility of a Demon’s Souls Remaster, or a possible Demon’s Souls Sequel.

Demon’s Souls Remaster,
Sequel in the works?

To understand where Demon’s Souls lies in the development landscape, we must first know how it came to be and how originally it struggled. At the time that Demon’s Souls was released, the industry standard was that games would hand-hold the player through multiple tutorials to make access to each game mechanic straight forward and simple, and give ample warning of possible negative consequences of actions. The ultimate evolution of this thinking around game design was the so-called “Super Guide” in Super Mario Bros, also released in 2009, where if the player got stuck the game would play itself.

Along came Demon’s Souls, stubbornly challenging these conventions by presenting a game that not only lacked tutorials, but would actively punish the player for dying by making the game harder. The decision behind this was not due to masochism, the game’s director Hidetaka Miyazaki assured us, but rather the objective was to provide a true sense of accomplishment, and minimize over-communication from the developers to and between players.

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Black World Tendency made the world harder the more you died.

Whilst modern revisionist history tells everyone of what an amazing success the game was, the original reception by Famitsu was quite muted ( a total of 29 / 40, with the four reviewers giving two 7’s, a 6 and a 9). Similarly, Sony Computer Entertainment, who worked on the project via Sony Japan Studio, clashed with FromSoftware after initial audience tests revealed the difficulty was perceived as so high that the marketing team wanted to wash their hands of the project, effectively discarding a global launch.

“This is crap. This is an unbelievably bad game.” – Shuhei Yoshida after playing 2 hours of Demon’s Souls in 2008

Before the game was released, and the games playing public had a chance to deliver their verdict, Sony had already decided it was “way too hard” to succeed based on the opinions of marketing executives and the press, and made the significant decision to sell international publishing rights.

“What happened with Demon’s Souls was until very late in the game’s development, we were not able to play the game through. There were framerate issues and the network was not up and running. We underestimated the quality of the game and to be honest, the media in Japan did the same.” – Shuhei Yoshida to GameInformer, explaining the previous quote in 2012

As a result, the game was published in Japan by Sony, and no amount of “Japan Hardcore” success convinced them that they may be in the wrong. The North American publishing rights were sold to Atlus and the European rights to Bandai Namco.

And here, is the crux of any remaster consideration: FromSoftware and Japan Studio developed the game. Sony, Atlus and Bandai Namco all published it. Sony owns the IP… but can’t publish outside Japan, where the biggest markets reside:

  • How do you go about making a remaster?
  • Who will pay for it?
  • How does the developer maximize their profit?

I feel one of Sony’s biggest software mistakes this generation was passing on publishing Demon’s Souls in North America and Europe. – GameInformer
Absolutely! Tell me about it! 100 percent agree! – Shuhei Yoshida in 2012

Sony’s international abdication from the Demon’s Souls launch gave Bandai Namco an incredible opportunity to work with FromSoftware to launch Dark Souls, and it wasn’t until Bloodborne that Sony managed to revive that special relationship they had originally held with FromSoftware. But it’s now been almost 9 years since the Japanese launch of Demon’s and we may be getting the first clues of the three companies finally sorting out this complicated relationship.

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FromSoftware can develop more than 1 title simultaneously, and exponentially so!

What does the simultaneous server closure mean?

Atlus has previously closed and re-opened the Demon’s Souls servers, but the Japan ones have been steadily there. The game was also available in Playstation Now in Japan, thanks to Sony’s publishing ownership in that region.

So it is rather notable that all three regions are now shutting down their servers simultaneously, at the same time that From announces a break from “Dark Souls“, Bandai Namco goes off to make Code Vein as a new in-house Souls-like, and after we hear rumors of a three game deal between FromSoftware and Sony Japan Studio.

Speculation that the server shutdown could aim to create a clear break from the PS3 version to bring players into next-gen also makes some degree of commercial sense, as it would be wise to take this approach and force latecomers to the Souls party to purchase an upcoming full-price title that will hold all the online components.

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Who wouldn’t love to return to Boletaria in HD?

So, could a remaster or sequel be happening?

Keep in mind Sony is “not in the business” of selling their IPs (meaning they won’t sell the Demon’s Souls IP)

We never sell our IPs. Well, I should never say never, but it’s not our business. Our business is to grow our IP and we love Demon’s Souls. From Software is a very important business partner, so we’ll see.- Shuhei Yoshida to GameInformer, 2012

The conditions for a remaster would be:

  • Clarity of Publishing Rights and economic arrangement between publishing owners.

This could come about if the Publishing deal was time-limited. For example, they had 8 years after which the rights return to Sony. Alternatively this can happen if Sony re-purchases the publishing rights, or sells the rights to one of the other companies, which is admittedly extremely unlikely.

  • Publishing Rights did not extend to sequels, or were timed on that front

So if a Demon’s Souls 2, or Demon’s Souls: Return to Boletaria was to be made, Sony would be able to publish globally

  • Good ongoing relationship between FromSoftware and Sony Computer Entertainment + Sony Japan Studio

This is because assets and work from both studios delivered the finished product, and it would necessitate participation of both to recreate the experience. We think this condition has been more than fulfilled considering the absolute success of Bloodborne and the recent Miyazaki + Yoshida sightings.

 

Are there any other Demon’s Souls Remaster clues?

FromSoftware loves to be a tease, and rumors of a Dark Souls remaster, a Dark Souls Trilogy for Switch, and Bloodborne 2 have come but not completely gone, keeping fans on their toes. The latest Game Award trailer coincided with the revelation that Yasuhiro Kitao, of Sony Japan Bloodborne PR fame, has changed jobs to manage PR communications for FromSoftware.

Following this revelation, and just a few days later, he delivers another wink, by commenting on how busy Demon’s Souls is currently. This is a completely innocent tweet, and it makes sense given there’s a rush for everyone to get as many online actions as they can before the server shutdown. But, of course, we wouldn’t be Souls fans without convoluted theories and over-analysis of evidence – so we’re left wondering if there’s a further hint hidden besides the tweet.

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Kitao-san is such a tease!

All of this only adds this to the ever-growing speculation regarding what FromSoftware is doing. If you’d like to know more, you can check out our Shadows Die Twice analysis and the previous Bloodborne 2 clue-hunting! And if we hear anything, we’ll be sure to let you know.

 

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MMO raider by day and guide writer by night, Fex enjoys multiplatform gaming, good books and animes, and streaming with a cold beer.

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5 comments on “Demon’s Souls Remaster or Sequel in the works?”

  1. Bonaduce80 says:

    Everyone rushing for that Pure Bladestone sharing for the Platinum before servers switch off!

    Interesting article and timeline. I wondered how it is with things like film contracts they are pretty much out there for the public to know (Marvel and Sony/Fox until recently and the conditions for the characters to revert to their owners, for instance), yet in videogames they remain so secretive.

    I can relate to Yoshida considering my first toon in DeS was a barbarian who ran out of grass in 1-1 and found the dredgelings utterly unpredictable (plus 50% health penalty!) As much as we love the franchise these days, I have always thought it is the hardest for a neophyte to get into: weight and equip load, icons for stats completely abstract, split of magic damage and spells split in two stats yet miracle power and spells together in Faith stat, character/ world tendency, Yurt offing characters if you just do the typical RPG thing and release him… Other games are definitely harder, but Demon’s Souls is the one out there to make your life harder (oh 1 kills by mobs if you are not careful… in PWWT!)

    Please bring it back 😋

  2. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Haha that is indeed how we all felt!

    I remember going "WTF why is my gold and xp the same thing" "wtf is this red guy" "omg why can these random arrows kill me"

    I got stuck at the dogs before the Tower Knight and was dreading going forward, and I actually ephemeral stoned out of the boss because my damage was so pathetic I thought I needed to go farm.

    But the experience of discovery and learning truly did bring about a fantastic sense of accomplishment when an obstacle was cleared, and it’s that feeling that we are all chasing with each souls game we play. The discovery and progression is what keeps me here.

  3. Bonaduce80 says:

    Also, although I wasn’t there at that time, can imagine the gathering of players sharng information about such an obtuse game and world… Must have been magical.

    Another thing I forgot to mention I love of the game: utter lack of pizzazz. So many JRPGs feel a need of colour and overdesigned aesthetics. Demon’s was sober, somber and definitely carries that dark unexplicit visual design one imagines Miyazaki had in his mind reading those old Fighting Fantasy gamebooks ages ago. Even Dark Souls doesn’t manage that (has a great aesthetic and atmosphere, but not in the same direction).

  4. Avatar Fexelea says:

    Indeed, I distinctly recall going "I need to look this up" and landing on NOTHING. There was no information, no guides. Just obscure and user-unfriendly BBS boards that sucked so bad! So we all put our heads together and build the livedoor wiki from the ground up. It was amazing, the answers for things started appearing out of nowhere, and it took us well over a month working together to get basic info such as all weapons, armors, rings.

    I think players got a bit of this feeling with Bloodborne, that wasn’t demonstrated too much before launch so players got to discover secrets like the engagement ring.

  5. ckmishn says:

    Thank you very much for the Playstation Now explanation. I had no idea Demon’s Souls was available for Japanese players, and of the few hundred games still not part of PS Now (in the US and Europe anyway) it was the one whose absence made the least sense.

    I’m inclined to believe some form of remaster is inevitable. Atlus, Sony and Bandai Namco may be competitors as publishers, but they also regularly work together and none of them are likely to leave money on the table. No doubt Atlus and Bandai Namco will fight for the best deal they can get, but with the recognition that any deal will be better than no deal.

    Edit: I am curious, if you know Fex, how well does Demon’s Souls play on Japanese PS Now? Does it handle multiplayer ok as part of Sony’s network?


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