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In Defense of Capcom

So here’s something I’d never thought I’d see myself do. Write a piece, speaking on behalf of Capcom. There’s probably not much need to go very deep detail about Capcom and how they established themselves in the 80’s and 90’s as a video game publishing and developing powerhouse, cementing characters from franchises as venerable icons and defining the fighting game genre into what it is today with Street Fighter II (a fighting game so revered, it has been released on virtually every conceivable gaming platform and is still tournament savvy to this day), and paved way for the survival/horror genre with Resident Evil on home consoles. But roughly around the mid 2000’s, key figures in their development staff like Keiji Inafune, Hideki Kamiya, and Shinji Mikami parted ways. Beloved series like Rival Schools, Darkstalkers and Power Stone never quite saw follow-ups. While the 2000’s saw Capcom achieve continued success with newer franchises like critically acclaimed hits Devil May Cry and Ace Attorney (there was also Onimusha, which was okay. I wasn’t a huge fan), a lot of these hits came fewer and further in between for a lot of gamers. They seemed content with resting comfortably on their laurels, a fine bed woven of the threads and fabric of success. You did it, Capcom. You’re a household name. Millions of fans are endeared by your works. You have Mega Man and Street Fighter, names that are as common with video games as a controller and a television. But something happens when you are riding high off success. Your guard drops, and that one sturdy crack in the armor becomes exposed. You suddenly have a weak spot and that leaves you a crippled heap, trying, but unable to return to their former glory.

I still want to play Resi 7, I’ve just been too busy.

It’s not like Capcom is sinking underwater, nor are they in the state Konami’s reputation is right now. In fact, there’s a rather weird relationship between Capcom and the fans, it’s one that reminds me of a man trying to keep a pack of wolves fed while he’s running out of meat, and there’s few true sources of protein in that locker. When it looks like times are getting very tumultuous, quickly toss a Mega Man game in front of the hungry carnivores. It’ll buy them just enough time to track down another piece of meat that pleases them. So where exactly does my defense of them come in? I grew up loving the brand, but became rather indifferent towards 2000 after playing Megaman X5, a game I’m still not sure to this day if I thought was really STUPID, or a decent entry where the sheer ludicrousness of naming your Mavericks after Van Halen band members totally blinded my judgement. Nothing wrong with Van Halen, but I’m more of a glam rock guy.

I’m not saying you CAN’T name your enemy Duff McWhalen. Just be warned that I will attempt to track you down and hit you with an actual fish.

In my seemingly cynical and nihilistic view on the modern game industry, Capcom is now another company that makes games to me. And just truly integrating myself into social media a little over two and a half years ago, I learned how incredibly fickle, demanding, and hostile gamers can be without a shred of rationality. Take Capcom releasing Street Fighter V in an early access form, stripping conventional modes fighting games have on reflex, like Arcade Modes and Time Attack. I am on record for not being very happy with the decision to essentially cater a fighting game exclusively for competitive purposes and fans were rightfully upset (despite playing fighters since their inception, I’ve chosen to stay away from the competitive field. I’ll do casual matches, but my heydays were in the quarter-munching arcades with Virtua Fighter and Fatal Fury 3) Time has since passed and SFV has shaped up to be a premier fighter, I like it very much. The Arcade Edition update scheduled for the beginning of 2018, free for those who own it and a discount bargain bin price of $20 (US) with all of the DLC for free up to this point for those who stayed away, shows Capcom is attempting to treat a wound they inflicted upon themselves. It didn’t have to be this way, but in Capcom’s defense, they thought they saw an opportunity to cash in on what they felt was a sure bet. “Fighting games are a niche genre in 2016, let’s target the expert crowd and professionals.” Regardless whose call it was, be it Sony’s idea to market it that way or Capcom themselves, they gambled and misfired. I won’t tell people to be apologetic towards a game for omitting Sagat (he’s back, BTW, next season) or selling a half-baked game at full retail price, I just see their point of view.

Marvel vs Capcom Infinite has been an absolute disaster in terms of press, hype, and sales, This poor game can’t seem to do anything right when it comes to selling itself to the fans, which is a shame, because MVCI is the best playing entry in the series! It’s a more technically sound and balanced game than the beloved Ultimate MAHVEL vs Capcom 3 (I find UMVC3 bullocks), but because it doesn’t have X-Men in it, that deems it a crappy game not worthy of playing. I get it, a lot of Marvel’s meat and potatoes from those previous Vs. titles like X-Men vs Street Fighter, Children of the Atom, and that choppy sprite-filled dumping ground, Marvel vs Capcom 2 weren’t showing up and uninteresting combatants like Nathan Spencer are returning. But to indict a game without giving a puncher’s chance is asinine to me.

Frankly, the Capcom side left me lackluster. But in Capcom’s defense, the X-Men situation was marred in licensing issues with 20th Century Fox and Activision. The odds of the X-Men showing up in MVCI were slim odds AT BEST. Yet fans expected Capcom to jump through magical hoops in order to make something so far out of their power to happen that it became an indictment towards the game itself. Because of rights and ownership spread so awkwardly with these properties, Marvel Cinematic Universe vs Capcom was the eventuality. There was no way Disney intended to allow free advertising to Fox’s X-Men movies and take interest away from their own (at the time of writing this, Disney, I believe, acquired the rights to the Marvel tie-ins from 20th Century Fox). I’m sure it’s not even the 4th entry Capcom would’ve wanted to make, but it’s not the same company anymore and those executive decisions are out of their hands. Capcom’s far from the powerhouses they used to be, And in the age of the self entitled, fickle gamer, making everyone happy (or even maintaining notoriety) is not an easy thing to do. Take it from a lifelong SNK Corporation fan. I’m used to turmoil of not knowing whether or not my favorite brand will exist because they declared bankruptcy more times than I can remember. Things don’t help when you say, “today, not many people know who the X-Men are”, kind of shooting yourself in the foot. See, this is the tricky part about defending Capcom. It’s like convincing people, “This person isn’t an idiot!”, while at the same time said person is behind you trying to swallow a hammer. 

The reason there isn’t a Darkstalkers 4? The series has never made Capcom money.

 So I’ll bring this defense to a close by saying some of the onus is on the fans themselves. Remember, your dollars do speak, and Capcom is trying to run a business. So when there isn’t work on a Power Stone sequel, or Project Justice, it’s because these aren’t money makers for them. A cult hit doesn’t bring in revenue and memories of non commercial successes mean about as much to Capcom as Bison Dollars. Darkstalkers may have been fun for their time, but Morrigan and Felicia are mere spokespeople for Capcom because not as many people love Darkstalkers as much as its most devoted fans seem to believe. It would be a waste of time and resources for a company that’s failed to meet sales figures on two of its last three hits to begin production on a new Power Stone, simply to meet demands from a spirited, yet small, fanbase.

Ask The Spirits Within how targeting a select market and avoiding the casual movie goer does for business. That time spent could’ve been utilized playing that awesome Metroid-style explorative Strider game that was released on PS3 in 2015. The game has an intense difficulty, looks amazing, and finally gave Strider Hiryu, a character more known for being amazing in the Vs fighting games, a true chance to shine and flex his talents in his first solo game since 1999. But nobody knew that game existed, it went virtually ignored, and is an indicator of how we can’t have nice things. Instead, let’s sign meaningless petitions asking Capcom to revive Megaman Legends 3, and when they tell us “NO”, then file a restraining order, I can blog about how Capcom doesn’t listen! I think the problem isn’t really Capcom not listening, but rather rationality is not being applied. Wanting to do something completely different from being capable. And unless you’re an indie development team, where the stakes are lower, a business decision is more imperative than trying to answer every letter to Santa. Which is why Capcom opted to go the safe route and release a Megaman 11, something I’M not thoroughly excited about (looks merely OKAY to me so far), but the Blue Bomber is company’s easiest elixir to get gamers back on their good graces. They don’t have a lot of hits to circle around, but in Capcom’s defense, nobody will buy anything else, so I can’t blame them.

Not to be a fighting game snob, I never understood the appeal of this

 

2 Comments

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  1. December 11, 2017, 8:39 PM

    I just read your entire article Mike and I gotta say, well done! I agree that making a Mega Man 11 is a smart choice for Capcom to make at this point, but I feel like they could have made it more to their fans’ liking. The only Power Stone game I played was Power Stone 2 on the Dreamcast like over 10 years ago and I absolutely loved it! I would love to see what a modern Power Stone game would be like.

    Reply
    • Mike Lind says
      December 11, 2017, 10:50 PM

      Thanks for reading, it was fun to write. This company does sit on a lot of riches, but has to be careful about which ones to utilize. I recommend they fine tune and remaster Power Stone, add some online features (I don’t know why SNK hasn’t done that) and put it on a marketplace to see how it sells, then move from there on deciding for a sequel or reintroducing it from the ground up.

      Reply

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