Saint’s Row 4′s silly tone doesn’t get in the way of sales, says Volition

Thursday, 18th April 2013 12:34 GMT By Dave Cook

Saint’s Row 4 developer Volition believes that if anything, the series’ daft tone is what makes it such a success, not the other way round. It comes as one Cliff Bleszinski suggested that the wacky nature of the games is holding them back, and for Volition to “lose the gimps and dildos”.

Speaking with OXM, senior producer Jim Boon said of comments made by Bleszinski and other critics of Saint’s Rows’ zany antics, “Ultimately I don’t think that Saint’s Row’s tone gets in the way of bigger sales. If anything, I think our tone is an element of our success.

“Saint’s Row is quite unlike anything else out there, and I think gamers crave unique experiences – I know I do. We have a lot of passionate fans that love SR, so I think we are striking the right chord.

“Also, I do want to mention that Jason [Rubin] was extremely supportive if SR4 and really liked what we were doing with the game. He would often offer ideas for the game, and those ideas were never suggestions about changing our tone. He was a fan of the series and loved what we were doing”.

When asked if he thought fans would miss the game’s wacky elements if they were removed, Boon added, “I think our fans would miss what might considered juvenile elements of previous SR games.

“Based on the overall reception and sales of SR3, I strongly suspect many people enjoy this aspect of SR, even if some may not want to admit feeling that way. Thinking of a movie series like The Hangover – people love the humor but you might not want to discuss some of the finer moments of those movies with your mom, for example.

“I think the same might be true for SR. We do get an awful lot of feedback from fans telling us much they love our juvenile tone – with some asking us to go even further! Ultimately SR4 doesn’t try to take itself too seriously and we even have a lot of fun at our own expense.”

What do you think? Does the series’ wacky elements help it stand out from the pack, or could you do without all the purple dildos and such? Let us know below, and be sure to check out our own interview with Boon here for more information on the game’s development.

Saint’s Row 4 hits North America from August 20 on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.



  1. silkvg247

    I’m happy with the insanity and will be buying it, but we now have a gap for the bit “in between”, which is what SR2 was.

    Basically something that isn’t as depressingly realistic as GTA, where you can’t so much as fire a gun at a wall without the pains of the cops beating down your door (woo.. real life 2.0). But , something that also has a story, characters and purpose which are a little over the top but which make sense.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. SlayerGT

    @Silk if you desire a GTA with no cops fire up a “custom match” freeroam mp lobby of your own and disable them. Set friend slots to max if you want to play by yourself. If you’re on consoles and playing The Ballad of Gay Tony hit me up. I love playing around in GTA.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. laughing-gravy

    It’s not often I would agree with Cliffy B. But I have to say he’s right on this one. The dildo & gimp stuff just seems like a crass attempt to generate controversy. “Ooh look at how bad we are this will get us some publicity!” It’s like they are trying to rip off GTA without understanding why it works in the first place. Must try harder!

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Llewelyn_MT

    I wish SR3 had more to it than gimps and dildos, which sadly wasn’t the case. Too short, boring missions, 50 thousands overpriced DLCs, stupid co-op mode, idiotic horde mode. No SR4 for me, thanks.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. TheWulf

    Saints Row is a bizarre beast that artfully stands on its own. It’s insulting to everyone, so at the same time it’s somehow funny, targetless, and insulting to no one. I… don’t know how that wraps around, and yet it does, it does so flawlessly. It’s one of the most genuinely funny “violence” games, but it doesn’t try to emulate reality, so it makes a clear separation. I find Call of Duty and Gears of War far, far more offensive than Saints Row.

    There’s a delicate balance to Saints Row, an equality. In that the way it’s silly makes it feel like it’s laughing with you rather than at you, and it’s harmless. Even with the sexuality, guys are treated in exactly the same way as women. Big or small bits, as dressed or undressed as you like. A lady friend of mine who’s frequently bothered by sternum-bustin’ chainmail bikinis in fantasy had absolutely no issue with Saints Row because of this.

    It just felt like it was having a joke about modern society with us.

    And I find that way, way more palatable and tolerable than most super-violent games. GTA IV? I personally can’t stand it. The hypocrisy of how we’re supposed to treat a mass-murderer as an innocent lamb and the hero of the hour? No. Just no. Rockstar knew better than that, once. They knew that people like that were rotten to the core, but this attempt to make running down old ladies in the street acts of heroism? I find it distasteful. That’s just me, but there you go.

    And again, GTA IV by comparison embraces reality and realism. In doing so it invites a certain… there’s an unsettling anti-je ne sais quoi to it. It’s familiar in the way that violent games are, but it comes too close to reality, almost tumbling headfirst into the uncanny valley. It comes a little too close to reality and what you see on television and it presents itself as a possible reality, that I find mildly repugnant.

    It’s a game, but it’s a game that desperately wants you to think it’s real.

    Saints Row the Third was the opposite. Sucking people up with a giant cat-faced truck and shooting them out of a cannon? That’s not something you’re going to hear on the five o’clock news any time soon. It makes a clear distinction from reality, and to be honest? I never felt they went far enough. For me, the most exhilarating and thrilling mission of SR3 was the part of the Clones one where you end up with super powers thanks to an irradiated Saints Flow.

    And look at the sequel. They get it as much as I do. The sequel is filled with parody super heroes, they’re taking it to the next step and moving it further away from reality. It’s a satire, a parody, and a joke you can laugh at. It’s almost a joke to be had at GTA’s expense.

    So CliffyB is wrong. He’s from the sort of mindset that makes realistic violence a sexual fetish. THAT is what is wrong with the industry. Not gimps, or dildos, or purple suits. There’s far more wrong with Gears of War than there is with Saints Row the Third. Sometimes I wonder if he’s just bitter? I mean, with Unreal Tournament Epic clearly wanted Digital Extremes to create a more serious, believable future tournament shooter.

    Then moddres come along and make everything silly with squirrel avatars and things like ChaosUT. People love silly and being detached from reality. Is the success of Saints Row the Third really a surprise?

    If there was only one, simple thing that harmed the success of Saints Row the Third, it was the endless stream of micro-transactions and mini DLC. That’s it. Nothing else. Saints Row the Third as a style or genre of game is golden, and we don’t need less of it, we need more. We need less of Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and things that seem to want to BE reality as best they can.

    But that’s just me.


    Plus. It was SO silly that it allowed me to be a werewolf in a very expensive suit. So they get bonus points for that. In a way, it almost feels like a more raw sort of creativity, it’s the anti-GTA IV. I don’t think Rockstar or anyone else could ever really top it.

    Volition just needs to drop the mini DLC torrent and then have the balls to turn the dial up another few notches. I’m genuinely looking forward to Saints Row IV. Whereas I haven’t enjoyed in GTA game in I don’t know how long.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. TheWulf


    Aside from being a loner, what was wrong with the completely optional co-op mode?

    It’s not like Dead Space III or Fable III where they wilfully withhold content until you have another player with you. All the content is available regardless of how you play it.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. joshua nash

    i completely agree with cliff, SR used to be a good game look at SR1&2, but SR3 was bland and lifeless it lacked character, basically cause it was one action set piece after another, and a torrent of dlc that was cheap and useless, i was totally letdown so I don’t know whether i’m going to get SR4

    #7 2 years ago
  8. TheWulf


    It lacks realism, it had plenty of character. It was packed with character and I’m going to outright call you a liar, there. Don’t mix up realism with character. I know it’s edgy for youngfolk to be dismissive of things that aren’t dark and edgy, these days, but at least use facts.

    I mean, the Clone stuff, the Genki stuff, the Gangstas in Space stuff? No character? Yeah. I’m sorry, but that’s a lie. I have more integrity than that, I’d rather be honest than be in any Cool Club.

    Sometimes I think something needs to be edgy with realistic violence. Otherwise people can’t get off on it. But that’s exactly what I find so repugnant, that the kind of realistic violence people are talking up here contrary to Saints Row the Third has almost become a sexual fetish of its own. People need that darkness, that depression, and that almost uncanny-valley level of realistic violence to even begin to enjoy something.

    I want to go back to the ’80s/’90s.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. 3rikko

    SR 3 was a good game, hope SR 4 will keep the co-op from SR 3

    #9 2 years ago
  10. salarta

    Bleszinski has been making a lot of statements that are either questionable or flat out wrong. Telling Volition to make Saints Row more serious and lose the fun, silly tone is one of them. I normally avoid games with the same sort of atmosphere and setting as Saints Row, and it’s the silly tone that makes me want to play it. It’s because of this that I’m looking forward to Saints Row IV. Meanwhile, I don’t give a single damn about Grand Theft Auto or Sleeping Dogs or whatever other criminal simulation game exists on the market.

    I only got involved in Saints Row with the third game, but if I had to guess, I would say that the only thing that may have her SR3 sales was expectations of the franchise built from SR1 and SR2, sort of like how DMC3 apparently sold worse than DMC2 even though everyone thinks DMC2 was terrible and DMC3 was great.

    Overall I’d agree with what TheWulf said. CliffyB and many people like him are part of the train of thought that’s obsessed with violence and realism, which has been killing many great franchises as of late. It’s been the driving force behind most reboots lately too. If that attitude ever does lead to better sales, it’s typically because of other factors, like people not understanding the franchise and therefore refusing to give the franchise and its characters any respect.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. orakaa

    @5: Amen :)

    #11 2 years ago
  12. ItsFade

    Saints Row 3 might have been silly but it was also extremely shallow not to mention it had far less content than Saints Row 2. Saints Row 3 the activities and turned them into to storyline missions which was pretty fucking lazy. Saints Row 2 on the other hand was packed to the brim with tons of lengthy fun missions in addition to awesome activities like Fuzz. Saints Row 3 also had weaker customization elements than Saints Row 2 which was a shame.

    Personally I felt so burned by Saints Row 3 that I will never have the desire to touch a Saints Row game for the rest of my life. I guess my lack of sale will already be made up by the drones of new “LOLSORANDOM” Saints Row 3 fans brought in but I won’t be among them.

    I wish somebody would make a game that echoed that perfect middle-ground which Saints Row 2 and the older Grand Theft Auto games managed to achieve. Saints Row 3 went full retard and Grand Theft Auto IV tried to take itself so seriously it just became exhausting and boring to play. Grand Theft Auto V looks to be bringing that franchise back to it’s roots again based on the screenshots and trailers released for it so hopefully it will manage to hit that middle ground again.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. cw5th

    Blezinski is talking business. To reach even greater sales they must tone down the nudity and the slapstic.

    But thank god that Volition isn’t this stupid. Blezisnki would take all the unusual stuff out of the game and make it a GTA wannabe.

    Everything has to be dark, grimm and mature.

    I’m thankfull that there’s at least one wacky open world game. Don’t get me wrong, i love GTA, inFamous, etc. but every now and then i want to do insane stuff and Saint’s Row is the right game for that need.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. yeoung

    Honestly, it’s the tone that make me prefer SR over GTA. SR is basically what GTA used to be, insanely violent fun. Where in GTA the only options for my fuck-shit-up impulses is basically keeping hospital personal and patients hostage while SWAT tries to come in through the one blocked entrance.

    In saints row I can hurl people into traffic, start multi-gang streetwars and my personal favourite, herd a flock of zombies into an open container by standing atop of it, and then letting lose with the big floppy purple dildo. Plus, characters together in a car singing sublime while an open passenger door clips pedestrians and everything co-op enabled is just fantastic. Looking forward to SR4 more than GTAV

    #14 2 years ago
  15. MidlifeAxe

    “lose the gimps and dildos”?

    Erm, no. All that stuff is what makes Saints Row what it is and without it, it would just be another GTA-like game. Good on Volition for not changing what the franchise is built on.

    I enjoy both SR and GTA. They both have their own qualities that make each of them worth playing – none of this “it’s either SR or GTA” crap.

    @14 I’m now going to go play SR3 so I can fly over and kill zombies in my jet.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. laughing-gravy

    GTA was the original sandbox experience and SR is just a poor rip off. They can’t make up for the gulf in gameplay so they use crude, childish attempts at so called humor to pad it out. Is it any wonder that that other forms of media don’t take games seriously? GTA is a far more mature parody on popular culture than this crap will ever be. SR is just moronic gutter humor at it’s worst.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Francis O

    I’m surprised people play this crap.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. SlayerGT

    @17 You’ve played it?

    #18 2 years ago
  19. monkeygourmet

    Cliffy, just get a f**king job, you bum! :)

    This ones for you Cliffy…:

    Sitting around in his Pyjamas making bitchy comments eating a big bowl of fruit loops…


    #19 2 years ago
  20. fearmonkey

    @17 – I was the same way until Steam had a sale on it and offered a free weekend to play it. I played it and actually liked it, and I was very surprised. I didn’t like the first two games and I don’t care for the overly crude humor I saw in trailers, but the actual game is much much better than I ever would have guessed. I ended up buying the game for me and a friend to play. My friend also hated the other two games and he only said he would play it because I asked him to. he ended up playing through the entire game and all the DLC. The game really surprised me how good it was…

    @16 – To each his/her own..I have never really cared for GTA games, I never completed any of them, though I bought and rented all of them. I liked the over the top gameplay, some of us don’t love the realistic gangta crap.
    I thought mafia 2 was better than GTA4.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. DSB

    SR3 was just use and destroy chaos. It didn’t give half a crap about story or motivating you to do anything, it just lined up a bunch of shit for you to blow up, and I guess whether you enjoyed it depends entirely on how much you love blowing shit up.

    Personally I think it’s a pretty good time, but they could definitely use a bit of coherence the next time around. I don’t want an epic story, I just want a plot that is at least loosely strung together.

    @20 Totally agree on Mafia II. It got a bad rap for obvious reasons, but it was actually a pretty decent game in spite of its limitations.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Lengendaryboss

    Well i won’t be buying it, so either someone is lying to himself or i am being too cynical.

    #22 2 years ago

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