East to West: The communication breakdown between the 2 Capcoms

East to West The communication breakdown between the 2 Capcoms

Capcom has made some of my favorite games of all time. I was a die hard fan of theirs up until about 5 years ago. At first, I thought it was just because gaming trends changed and now I’m just a crusty, old gamer. I can live with that. But on the other hand… I’m still a gamer and Capcom has made a lot of great games. As much as it bothers me to say it, short of a stray hit game and a few retro collections, Capcom hasn’t really put out much to impress me recently.

street fighter iv capcomIn the last few years I think of Street Fighter IV as the only quality product they’ve released. While there have been a few runner ups, they’re marred by gameplay issues (Street Fighter X Tekken) or never even make it to the US (Monster Hunter series). Now as most of you should know, Capcom is a Japanese company, Japanese run. So the US division of Capcom is basically a middleman to the real suits in Osaka. I find it interesting reading Capcom’s official US community site, Capcom Unity; it’s filled with creative fans and plenty of fan service from the US Capcom employees who run it. Videos, artwork, giveaways, reposts of fan created content… hell, they even outright bought a game that a fan made (Street Fighter X Mega Man). The posts are enthusiastic and cater both to the new and old fans of Capcom’s gaming past.

Let’s take a look at key Capcom games over the past 30 or so years. I was sure not to include every sequel they made; nor did I include every beat’em up and shoot’em up. I focused on new IP’s and critical releases.

1942 (1984)
Ghosts ‘N Goblins (1985)
Bionic Commando (1987)
Mega Man (1987)
Forgotten Worlds (1988)
Final Fight (1989)
U.N. Squadron (1989)
Strider (1989)
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (1991)
mega man x capcomMega Man X (1993)
Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom (1993)
Breath of Fire (1993)
DarkStalkers (1994)
X-Men: Children of the Atom (1994)
Street Fighter Alpha (1995)
Resident Evil (1996)
Star Gladiator (1996)
Mega Man X4 (1997)
Rival Schools: United By Fate (1997)
Street Fighter III (1997)
Mega Man Legends (1997)
Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix (1997)
Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes (1998)
Tech Romancer (1998)
Dino Crisis (1999)
Power Stone (1999)
Giga Wing (1999)
Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (2000)
Maximo: Ghosts to Glory (2001)
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2001)
Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001 (2001)
devil may cry capcomDevil May Cry (2001)
Onimusha: Warlords (2001)
Mega Man Zero (2002)
Steel Battalion (2002)
Chaos Legion (2003)
Auto Modellista (2003)
Viewtiful Joe (2003)
Monster Hunter (2004)
Resident Evil 4 (2005)
Shadow of Rome (2005)
Killer7 (2005)
God Hand (2006)
Okami (2006)
Lost Planet (2006)
Dead Rising (2006)
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars (2008)
Street Fighter IV (2008)
Asura’s Wrath (2012)
Dragon’s Dogma (2012)
Street Fighter X Tekken (2012)
DmC: Devil May Cry (2013)

Notice in the list how many more games were released before 2007. It’s as if at that point the company locked down and chose profit over creativity and innovation. If you ask me, that strategy has bit them in the ass.

monster-hunter-portable-2g-screenshotTo make things more interesting, this is something that has been noticed in Capcom. It began with luminary designers leaving the company or having their studios closed around 2007. In most cases they left because they felt their ideas weren’t being given enough freedom. Then there’s Capcom US. As mentioned above, these guys are OK in my book. But it seems a lot of what they want released goes unnoticed by Japan. For example, the Mega Man IP. Just based on their social posts alone, there is a ton of enthusiasm for that series, yet Capcom Japan keeps canceling any hope of the series continuing. It took years for Capcom Japan to greenlight the Monster Hunter series again in the US. And even then they dragged their feet for months and sometimes years translating the game for US release. It’s a commonly known fact in the game industry that one of the leading reasons for piracy of games is long delays in multi-region releases. This is something Valve learned with the Russian market as explained in the past by Gabe Newell. By releasing games in tandem in different regions, it removes the NEED to pirate the games. You will always have pirating, but the average consumer wants to buy their entertainment, not waste time downloading torrents and applying patches to their expensive gaming consoles.

mega man legends capcomLong story short, Capcom is not the creative wrecking ball it used to be. At best, they’re a company crawling in the shadow of their glorious legacy. Every now and then they get it right, but for the most part, they seem to have lost their passion for risk and innovation. If Capcom is having difficulty creating new and interesting IPs, then at least go back and use your history to your advantage… Reboots can be effective as proven by the success of Tomb Raider and DmC. Whether you liked them or hated them as a hardcore fan, the games themselves are solid, worthy titles which introduce new players to the series. I don’t think there’s a Mega Man fan out there that would be dissatisfied with a new adventure game called Mega Man Legends 3. If you ask my humble opinion, I think there should be more collaboration between Capcom’s US and Japanese offices, because Americans are starved of amazing Japanese video games.

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