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Daily Reaction: Capcom Lost and Found – Publisher Loses Money and Gets Westernitus

April 18, 2013 Written by Dan Oravasaari

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With the recent news that Capcom underperformed and has ended up cancelling numerous in-development titles, many have begun to wonder about the fate of the once-loved company. As Capcom tries to right their ship before it gets worse, the Daily Reaction crew of Seb and Dan discuss what they can do to get themselves out of the position they have put themselves in.

Dan: Capcom really does have a great deal of IPs in their back pocket that should be making them money hand over fist, but the problem seems to be that they have gotten lost with the explosion of the western gaming market. Having developed some of the most memorable games of the mid 90s, the fact that they really haven’t brought on too many new franchises over the last few years seems fairly worrisome. While some of their newer franchises have gained a good amount of traction (Dead Rising, DmC, Monster Hunter, etc…), some seem to lose their pull with fans as the titles keep getting churned out and end up nothing like what the fans once loved. This leaves many of their IPs in a state of chaos, as fans really cannot set expectations based on previous experiences, forcing Capcom to justify changes to current fans, while trying to bring in new ones.

The best example of this really has to be the evolution (or devolution) of the Resident Evil series, a once iconic zombie horror game, now an utter mess of muscles and confused looks. Countless people still love the franchise and will support it no matter what direction it takes, but as each sequel releases the heritage that once made the game great seems to be lost a bit more. This, in my opinion, is the issue that Capcom has, as they seem to take any game that becomes embraced by fans and make it more over the top, mainstream or westernized.

If they want to stop this snowballing effect, Capcom needs to embrace a game’s roots and realize that fans love their games for what they are, and not what Mega Man will look like in 3D, not how Resident Evil would be better with QTE and certainly not how much Bionic Commando needs the ability to jump.

Seb: Yeah, it certainly is snowballing, and Capcom has been forced to wake up and smell the coffee. The publisher has now more than halved their profit forecasts for the financial year that ended March 2013 from $66.2m to $29.5m, forcing them to take drastic action.

Their main attempt at getting back on track has been to cancel a bunch of in-progress titles in development by outsourced developers (as in, they don’t own the studios) after blaming a recent spate of low quality games on “excessive” outsourcing to overseas developers.

Let’s start by taking a look at their plan to move all development in-house, because ‘quality will be improved’. Their outsourced games did end up being pretty bad, they are right about that – Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City by Slant Six Games was awful, Bionic Commando by Grin was bleh and DmC by Ninja Theory was, while decent as a standalone game, a failure as a Devil May Cry game. But that wasn’t just the fault of the developers, Capcom greenlit those titles and allowed the studios to drastically change the formula of beloved games (and sadly not in a good way).

Worst of all, however, just stopping outsource development isn’t going to solve their quality problem. Resident Evil 6 was developed in-house, something Capcom boasted regularly about, and it was just terrible. An abomination that needed to be put down, resurrected and put down again. It also only sold 4.9 million, instead of the predicted 7 million.

The problem is not who is developing the game, but what Capcom is telling them to develop. Each franchise has been westernized, even when the developers aren’t western, but the people who love those franchises don’t want them westernized and people who are into westernized games already have games they love. So they kill their existing market, while not expanding.

Nintendo equally relies on IPs from yesteryear, but they have resolutely not westernized them. They have simply made high quality games that fans love, and new people can grow to love.

Capcom needs to stop chasing dreams of creating the next Call of Duty and get back to the roots that made them great.

What do you think about how Capcom has handled their existing franchises over the last decade? Do you think the westernization of Resident Evil has helped the series? Can Mega Man be successful as a 2D platformer again? Did Bionic Commando need a jump? Let us know in the comments below, or feel free to tell us how to do our jobs at Seb and Dan. Also, feel free to email us at DailyReaction@PlayStationLifeStyle.net to let us know how to get arms like Chris Redfield.