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.
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.
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.
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.
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.