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The Death of a Legend? July 22, 2011

Posted by Brandon C. in Uncategorized.

It’s been a hard year for classic gamers, and it got worse earlier this week with the news that Capcom was halting production on Mega Man Legends 3 Project indefinitely. It’s been a strange year for Capcom, with the once proud Japanese developer/publisher bogged down with sluggish sales, releasing critically lackluster products and having one of their longest tenured creators – the Father of Mega Man himself, Keiji Inafune – suddenly and unexpectedly depart the company.

Are we witnessing the death of a legend in the games industry? It’s not just a beloved classic character, Mega Man, on the line here – it’s a legendary developer and an entire portfolio of beloved characters and franchises. Capcom has long been a company to hold their games to a higher standard than most in the industry, but the perceived mentality coming from Japan today is too American for it’s own good – sequels, sequels, sequels, no originality and the notion that there’s no room for games geared toward a smaller more traditional demographic.

Capcom is quickly becoming the Japanese Activision, by opening their publishing doors and inking deals to distribute games instead of developing them in the Land of the Rising Sun.

That, and canceling not one, not two but THREE Mega Man titles in one year? Releasing TWO Street Fighter titles within a fiscal year? Add on the news that Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 would be releasing in November, a mere nine months after the release of the original title, and the future looks bleak for Capcom.

You might be reading this article, and saying “Wait, bleak? Capcom is still developing titles and releasing games and making money – how is this bleak?” The answer is simple: Capcom holds a diverse portfolio of franchises and properties from which to develop games for, but that catalog is thinning dramatically. Creation is stagnating. Originality is dying at Capcom, my friends, and that’s no good for anyone.

We’re seeing it happen all over the Japanese industry – cookie cutter games and sequels. Dead Rising 2 is getting a slightly tweaked re-release, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 is getting a non-DLC upgrade and Street Fighter 4 just got it’s 3rd disc-based update. Back before the rise of networks like PSN and Xbox Live, this was acceptable – how else would you push an update out to fans? Now, we can download an update – there’s no need to go to the store or waste materials on producing a disc.

And what about sequels for the games that deserve it? Where’s Strider 3, Mega Man Legends 3, Mega Man X9, Commando 4, Rival Schools 2, Darkstalkers 4, Ace Attorney Investigations 2, Breath of Fire 6 or Viewtiful Joe 3? All these excellent franchises are going to waste – rotting away. And what about all the fresh and new ideas you could have made into successful titles? We’ve seen greenlit projects like Mega Man Legends 3 get canned, so that must mean there’s at least 20 good ideas that never saw the light of day – can I get some creativity up in here?

Sure, there’s a market for Call of Duty 29 and Madden 3035 and Street Fighter 7 – but there’s just as many that want games like Dark Void and Zack & Wiki. Sure, we’ve got Dragon’s Dogma and Asura’s Wrath coming down the pipeline – both new and untested IPs – but lets look at the facts:

Capcom has released 30 titles across 3 platforms this generation (I’m not including portables due to the extreme amount of re-releases included on that list.) Of those 30 titles, we have 8 games within 6 new IPs, with two more coming – the list includes Zack & Wiki, We Love Golf (actually by Camelot – makers of Mario Golf), Lost Planet, Dead Rising, Spyborgs and Dark Void. The rest are sequels and re-releases. Of those new IPs released, Dead Rising will become a franchise, Lost Planet 2’s lukewarm sales have guaranteed it’s place in Capcom obscurity, and the most original (Zack & Wiki) will go down as beloved by those that played it but lost forever due to a lack of sales.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and Street Fighter 4 and Dead Rising. But do I want to buy all 3 games again twice? NO. I’d rather pay $15 for the Ultimate DLC Pack for MVc3 that includes 12 new characters and 5 new stages, or the Arcade DLC Add-On for SF4 that costs $10 for 4 new characters and balances, or the Frank West Campaign Pack for Dead Rising 2 that costs $15. Collectively, I’ve saved $100 by getting all this DLC instead of going out and paying full-price at retail. Capcom has saved production costs by not minting discs, printing instruction manuals, and paying for shipping and distribution.

The worst part is it’s not just Capcom – the developers of the world have lost sight of what their consumers want. We like sequels, especially to games as iconic as Mega Man, but we want new stuff too. We don’t want you to pump out mindless quasi-upgrade crap, either – good games deserve GOOD sequels, not re-releases.

So Capcom (and developers all over the world) – what are you going to do about it? We don’t want to have to stop buying your games, we just want some support and understanding, and a promise that you’ll listen to your fan base when it asks for something that isn’t too terribly hard to do. We like buying games from you! We like feeling that our hard earned cash is making its way into better and more exciting titles that we’ll want to buy and play for years to come! So why can’t you do this? Not only for yourselves, but for US?

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