Video games were a bigger part of Comic-Con this year than any other. While E3 remains an industry-only affair, many game companies are treating Comic-Con as a public E3. Because it's often the first time companies are trotting out their products to the public, it's also the first time we're seeing their reactions, too. There was no game that produced more volatile and genuinely two-sided reactions than Dante's Inferno.
The press has been especially critical of Dante's Inferno riffing too much on God of War. At first glance, it really is hard to tell the difference between the two. The attendees at Comic-Con did not care, though. While observing the Comic-Con attendees floating through Electronic Arts' extremely packed (and small) booth, more than a few remarked how much Dante's Inferno looked like God of War and were happy about it. Many of the God of War hallmarks were appreciated by players; it let them dive right into the game.
The development team woefully misjudged the folks who attended their panel, though. The line was packed with people who liked to play games and -- and this is the part EA didn't expect -- read. Many of them had, in fact, read the poem Dante's Inferno is based upon, The Divine Comedy. There were jokes about how the game wasn't paying any respect to the regarded literature it was based upon. EA did not anticipate that.
Comic-Con panels can quickly go sour if the panelists aren't prepared for a critical lashing from the people in attendance. These are not journalists. They do not care if they phrase their questions inappropriately. So when the Dante's Inferno team joked about how no one in the audience probably read The Divine Comedy, they polled the audience toconfirm suspicions. Most of the room raised their hand. You could hear a pin drop, you could see the panel tense up. They expected an audience of gamers interested prepared to shout "f*** reading," not a bunch of enlightened lit buffs.
I've been to Comic-Con two years in a row. Not a single panel has ended without a line to ask questions. Dante's Inferno broke that trend. The moment the panel concluded, everyone bolted. Maybe it was their insinuation no one at Comic-Con reads, maybe it was the jokes about designing a level where Dante would be shoved up Cerberus' butt (don't worry, it'll be in the animated movie!) -- in any case, they screwed up. It probably doesn't matter, though.
People were flipping out playing the game. That reaction, direct from the buyers, indicates Dante's Inferno is most likely destined to be a hit. By comparison, the similar-playing Bayonetta received a muted response at Sega's booth. Sega probably made the right call by delaying Bayonetta; the Comic-Con audience had spoken: we want Dante's Inferno…even if (some of us) are pissed it doesn't take the source material seriously.