As most of you are likely already well aware, recently news has come about that Capcom are in a bit of trouble financially, it's nothing too desperate right now but the news of their less than desirable situation was enough to cause many to question the companies future in the games industry. So how did Capcom, a company with a great many IPs under it's belt get into such a mess? Well hopefully by the end of this I'll have helped to answer that question.
It's public knowledge that Capcom for a while now, have been struggling to say the least. Earlier this year it was reported that Capcom's profits dropped 37%, that's rather hefty loss, apparently they stated the cause for this was the competition posed by the sheer amount of AAA games released from other companies around the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, that were supposedly over shadowing their seemingly less appealing games. As well as Capcom themselves openly admitting that their attempts at "outsourcing" popular IPs to the West (such as Resident Evil and Devil May Cry) had yielded less than satisfactory results.
But honestly, what kind of excuse is that for a company like Capcom? With all their blatant miss use of DLC, on disk DLC, microinstructions, and the milking of their popular franchises, not to mention a company that owns many, many popular games and franchises, but chooses only to either cancel them, outsource them, or just sit on them while they drive their most popular franchises like Resident Evil into the ground while nickel and diming consumers by piecemealing their content. With all this penny pinching how can Capcom honestly be doing bad financially? Or is all this penny pinching purely due to their desperate circumstances?
As far as I'm concerned part of Capcoms reason for it's current financial situation is easily explainable, and it's something that's led to the gradual degradation of many popular Japanese videogame developers, and that is this obsession with appealing to the West. Capcom was at their best back when they were developing fun, innovative and enjoyable games, instead of trying to replicate western games in order to appeal to a wider audience. Appealing to the west isn't a bad thing in and of itself, heck eastern and western video game developers could probably learn a lot from one another going by the different ways they each approach certain genres, but the problem we see all too often is that many Japanese games lose the originality that made them appealing to begin with, casting off their charm purely in order to appeal to a demographic they were never meant to appeal too.
Look at the state of Resident Evil today for example, RE was always supposed to be a survival horror game, but now it's a pure action game with Zombies (if you can even call them "Zombies" anymore) void of any genuine chills, scares or the tense atmosphere that made the franchise the huge success it once was, and what for? To appeal to a wider demographic. Well maybe that might have been worth selling the franchise out if Capcom had realistic sales expectations, instead a ridiculous figure for units sold like "7 million" Resident Evil 6 apparently sold around 4.9 million copies around may of this year, leading Capcom to believe the game was a failure... 4.9 million copies sold is a failure now? And why? Because Call of Duty sold $1 billion copies suddenly every other company expects to make similar sales?... It's madness, COD wouldn't be the best selling franchise if every company could pull of similar figures.
Now I've already done a review for DmC: Devil May Cry where I gave it an over all decent score, so I'm not about to go back on that here, but this needs to be said. It may have sounded like a smart move on paper to outsource Devil May Cry to a western studio, but honestly could Capcom have handled the decision much worse than when they decided on choosing Ninja Theory... Now look, I like Ninja Theory, I'm a huge fan of Heavenly Sword, but everything they've done since then have both been pretty average... I'm not sure if Capcom had this planned out from the start in hopes of gaining more publicity for their now Western developed game, but the controversy that came about during the early teaser trailer for DmC: Devil May Cry, and plagued the game all the way through it's extended development, due to Ninja Theory's rather outspoken and negative attitude to core fans of the original franchise, did little good for what was a niche franchise to begin with, if anything the game gained a lot of publicity due to fans voicing their anger at what Ninja Theory had done to their beloved franchise, while many argued back defending Ninja Theory and their new approach to the franchise. in the end what we ended up with was a half decent hack 'n slash which probably would have done better sales wise had it not carried the title of "Devil may Cry". What needs to be learnt from this is that outsourcing very rarely ever works out well, but if you're going to attempt it make sure the company you're outsourcing to respects the core fans and doesn't add any unnecessary weight to the inevitable controversy. But I digress.
As I stated above, one issue is that Capcom keeps attempting to appeal to the west by copying popular western games, while ignoring the fact that it was their originality that made them such a success to begin with. Another problem is the wasted potential posed by many, many IPs Capcom have chosen to just sit on for oh, over 10 years or so now collecting dust, while they continue to butcher their most popular franchise with each new iteration. How about a new Ghouls and Ghosts, Or Power Stone, Dino Crisis, Mega Man, Breath of Fire, Rival Schools or Darkstalkers? the list goes on and on... But no, instead of Capcom developing new iterations for these popular IPs (well popular at the one time) IPs that many have been asking for, for quite some time and putting them out there to make some cash, they choose instead to sit on them letting their potential waste away. I honestly can't stress this enough, if you actually look at all the great games Capcom own and could be developing on right now, it seems utterly absurd for them to be doing absolutely nothing with them.
Capcom has so many great IPs, they're why they were such a great company after all, but now it almost seems as if they're a shadow of their former selves... Capcom's brand new IP, Deep Down, while looking interesting is anything but original, seeming to blend both Assassin Creed's virtual reality story element with Dark Souls gameplay mechanics, it's certainly an interesting premise and without a doubt I'll be checking the games out ASAP, but unless Capcom can pull it off, and offer an IP that can rival both Assassins Creed and Dark Souls, then what future is there for a game that appears to be only a carbon copy of the best of both popular IPs? Saying that though, being an online only game with randomly generated dungeons and enemies, and offering cooperative play is certainly cause for intrigue, but for now we'll jut have to wait and see how it all comes together, especially considering how lackluster Capcoms recent projects have turned out to be.
I am Sorry if I'm coming off a little critical of Capcom, but understand this, the only reason I'm am being critical of them is because I know what they are capable of. Some of my favourite franchises have come from Capcom, like Resident Evil, Ace Combat, Onimusha Warlords, Rival Schools, Street Fighter, and Power Stone to name a few, and believe me I could go on and on. This is why it pains me so to see Capcom become such a mess, I don't know if it's because they've lost much of the original talent behind their games and franchises, or are just struggling to keep up in the age of AAA franchises, and everything or nothing game development, but something needs to change at Capcom or else they may well find themselves being brought out in the not so distant future.
Of course this doesn't just go for Capcom, Square Enix have been responsible for a great many similar activities. The latest Tomb Raider reboot apparently failed to meet predicted sales made evident when the company announced they had made a “extraordinary loss” on the project, leading to major reforms and restructuring efforts for the company. The Final Fantasy IIIX series of games continues to divide fans due to Square Enix's continued attempts to appeal to the West, Sleeping Dogs, (essentially GTA in a eastern setting) seemed to have come and gone without so much as a whimper. So, is this what is to be expected when eastern videogame companies try to replicate western videogames in hopes of finding similar success? I don't think so.
Attempting to replicate the success of another without fully understanding how that success came about in the first place, obviously leads to ruin eventually. To say that Japanese
companies that attempt to appeal to the west are destined to fail from the start, is overlooking the real issue. Many of these games being developed to appeal to the west are just an attempt at cashing in on the success of another. It's those who understand where the success comes from, or better yet, it's the companies who understand exactly why a consumer enjoys a game, and then develops their game to cater to the consumers interests, who will succeed in the end.
Really it's no secret as to why big companies like Activision, EA, Ubisoft, and Naughty Dog find success in the west while many big Japanese developers struggle. Western companies are just more in tune with what western consumers want, if western developers were to attempt to appeal to Japanese consumers I imagine they would have just as much of an issue appealing to them, as many Japanese developers have appealing to western consumers. Japanese devs have it a lot tougher now than they did in the past, that's why I admire any Japanese company who continues staying true to themselves and their ideals, instead of attempting to appeal to western consumers purely for financial gain. That's not to say Japanese devs shouldn't develop western styled games, not at all, what I mean is that any developer, (eastern or western) needs to create content they understand instead of trying to replicate the success of others without understanding exactly where that success came from.
Anyway, I think I'll end it here before I ramble on any further.
Thanks for reading my blog and as always if you want to add anything or disagree with any of the points I've made, please feel free to leave a comment