If We Ran, 10th anniversary edition: Capcom

December 11, 2012

In If We Ran, we look at what we’d do if given control over game companies to get them going in a positive direction. In this anniversary edition, we take on Capcom, arguably the most controversial publisher in the industry right now. It has some big issues it needs to fix, and these are six steps we think it should take to do so. It’s already taken one on their own this month, when it announced a free (fan-made) PC game to celebrate Mega Man‘s 25th anniversary: Street Fighter X Mega Man.

Implement an aggressive, retailer-focused marketing strategy for Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

Anniversary profile

If We Ran
Author: Graham Russell (2010), Shawn Vermette/Andrew Passafiume/Graham Russell (Anniversary)
We put ourselves in the shoes of game company executives, and suggest business moves that could right troubled ships.

The Monster Hunter series has never been anywhere near as popular in the West as it is in Japan, despite the fact that it’s the type of game that generally is. The solution to this is do put more effort into marketing the upcoming entry in the series. Not a media blitz, though. While generally effective, those are quite expensive and and easy to mess up. (Plus: the problem’s with visibility, not reputation.) No, Capcom needs to focus on the retail aspect. Cut the biggest retailers, Amazon and GameStop for instance, a great deal on their purchases. These retailers will, in turn, push Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate hard to take advantage of the extra profit they’ll make on each sale. (It’s called a “push strategy,” and a large part of Microsoft’s success in the region.) Capcom might give up a little bit of revenue for this, but it should pay for itself in the increased mindshare among consumers.

Publish more new IPs from outside studios

The upcoming Remember Me is a fantastic example of Capcom getting behind a relatively small project from a brand new development team, and it looks like it’s shaping up pretty well. We won’t know for sure until next May, but it’s amazing to see Capcom supporting a new IP from a developer outside of their wheelhouse. While Dragon’s Dogma is a great first step for their internal studios, it would be great to see it focus on publishing games that might otherwise fall by the wayside because of a lack of funding or a publisher dropping the project.

Fresh IPs aren’t known to do incredibly well at the end of a generation, but if there is enough support, we could see them become big franchises when the next consoles launch. And if Capcom has a new triple-A franchise under its belt when that happens, that will look pretty good. For example: Guillermo Del Toro has an upcoming project called Insane that was dropped by THQ earlier this year and it may never see the light of day. Perhaps Capcom could lend a hand?

Develop and release Mega Man X9 in the same vein as Mega Man 9

It was common practice in the initial days of this column to shine a light on a successful-but-dormant franchise, suggesting a small-budget downloadable reboot or HD collection with online play. Capcom? Capcom’s way ahead of us, with Mega Man 9 and 10, HD versions of Street Fighter II & III (and way more) and successful download-only reboots of games like Bionic Commando. Good job, team!

So here’s our suggestion: a natural next step. Much like the original Mega Man series, the X line was fun and fresh until later installments ran it off the rails. Mega Man 11 just sounds silly, but with the success of 9 and 10, a new X title that mimics the style of the first few could be solid and done on a very similar budget.

Localize as many Ace Attorney games as possible, in whatever format necessary

Compared to most of Capcom’s properties, the Ace Attorney series is decidedly niche. That said, the fan base is loyal and growing, as this genre becomes more popular in the US. Capcom needs to continue to feed this growth by localizing new Ace Attorney games on whatever platforms it feels are necessary to ensure that this stable source of income continues, starting with Ace Attorney Investigations 2. (It’s done so in the past, with ports to iOS and WiiWare. This makes sense. Keep it up.)

Reboot the Resident Evil franchise

Let’s be honest here: Resident Evil 6 probably wasn’t as good as it could have been. Capcom touted Resident Evil 5 as the game that would wrap everything in their crazy storyline up, and for the most part it did, tying a neat little bow on Umbrella and those characters. And then RE6 comes along and brings them back for another crazy adventure. Not only was the critical reception poor, but a lot of fans responded to the game negatively. The franchise is so mechanically dissimilar from how it began that it seems to have lost its identity. Why not reboot it? Bring on some fresh blood, start things from scratch. You don’t need the Umbrella Corporation or even the same characters, but some familiar faces might help.

Returning to the old style of Resident Evil might be hard to pull off (as much as some fans would kill to see that), so how about finding a nice balance? You can create a game with more modern sensibilities that also appeals to those who love survival horror and grew up with the franchise. Fans may be skeptical at first (especially with how they have responded to the new DMC), but give it some time, show them that it’s still, at its core, the Resident Evil they love, and it can win them over. This is your flagship franchise, Capcom, and it deserves better.

Make a full Dragon’s Dogma sequel and put the Lost Planet series on hiatus

Dragon’s Dogma had some interesting ideas, and it found enough retail success that we’d feel comfortable greenlighting a sequel to give it the chance it needs to iterate on and refine its core mechanics. It’s in many ways a Monster Hunter-flavored Skyrim, and in many ways has a better chance of Western success than most Capcom initiatives.

Seeing as no company works with unlimited money, we need to find those funds somewhere, and we suggest it come at the expense of Lost Planet. Early indications are that the third installment could be the nail in the series’ creative coffin, and it’s likely sales will start to catch up to the quality drop-off. (E.X. Troopers, though, could help things, but likely only in Japan.) It’s a big enough name to the uninformed masses to kill completely, but it’s probably best to let the bad taste fade for a few years and let it return as a mid-life, polished-engine attempt in the next console cycle. (Let’s say 2018.)