Capcom has always been considered a powerhouse publisher and developer in the video game industry as far back as the NES era with Megaman and more beyond that. Last year Capcom did several amazing things by serving it’s fans with several updated titles like Megaman 9 and Super Street Fighter 2 HD Remix as well as classics like Bionic Commando: Re-armed and Joint Strike 1942.
This year is set up to be no different as we pass the halfway point of 2009. Capcom has lined up several winning franchises into success this year such as Street Fighter and Resident Evil, both of which are continuing on strong. However there have been some speed bumps along the way; games like Bionic Commando’s updated game which sold worse than expected.
Capcom’s year started off tremendously well with Street Fighter 4 this past February on the home consoles. The sales for that game within the first 2 weeks were very impressive with over 2 million units shipped out across the world. However, with the game’s release, there were some small issues like a championship patch coming a while after the game’s launch and the nickel & diming DLC of the costumes for the characters. However, Street Fighter 4 cemented a solid start for Capcom, and with its PC release this month it shall continue to do well. Although looking at the PC release of SF4, I am asking myself “why?” I’m not sure how much of a fighting crowd exists on the PC. I wonder if the time could have been spent developing more characters for the console versions like say T. Hawk or Deejay or maybe some of the characters from Street Fighter Alpha. This was a good start for the year and would be followed by yet another franchise sequel.
Resident Evil 5, the long awaited sequel in the franchise also performed very well for the company. The game was met with mixed reviews with some outlets giving a glowing review and some offering a lukewarm review at best, often compared with the acclaimed Resident Evil 4 and even Gears of Wars 2. The game was most often criticized for its control and assist AI. A controversy that was often associated with this game was the racism but that clearly did not hurt sales (currently at 5 million +) of the title. Resident Evil would also get an announcement at E3 about the continuation of the on the rails shooter spin off Dark Side Chronicles as well. The Resident Evil series again proved to be a winner with Capcom. It was argued that the DLC for the game was a cash grab because the content was so small in terms of megabytes and was allegedly only unlocking code.
Capcom retorted and said, “This is the part where I get to say “BS” RE5 is well worth every penny of $60. A huge game, with tons of replay value, loads of unlockables, new weapons, co-op, mercenaries mode, etc. If any game warrants its price point, it’s RE5.”
“Prior to the announcement of the versus mode, no one complained they weren’t getting their money’s worth with the initial release because it packs TONS of value because it is an amazing game. So if people were already satisfied with what the package had, when we offer MORE, why is it people feel they’ve been somehow cheated? If you don’t find value in our secondary offerings, the choice is simple, don’t purchase it. If you do find it valuable (and we hope you do) please do buy it and enjoy it.”
Capcom’s troubles started however with another earlier Zombie title, Dead Rising: Chop ‘Til You Drop for the Nintendo Wii. Dead Rising was originally a 360 exclusive but when the game was ported to the Wii, the game had limitation dues to the Wii’s hardware. Wii’s Dead rising had more of a focus on firearms and less with melee and even had less zombies on screen resulting in what some argue made the game easier despite an aggressive AI. The game also suffered from having some key features taken out such as photo taking and even the ability to jump. The game was met with very mixed reviews and was in fact the first game from Capcom I gave a negative review to. The series will receive new life in the form of Dead Rising 2 which is expected to hit later this year near the Holidays.
The next big launch of the year was expected to be the franchise re-imagination of Bionic Commando. The game would serve as a sequel to 2008’s BC: Rearmed however the game’s tone was changed radically from light adventure to heavy handed and dark. The game did not sell as well as expected and pretty much died on the way to stores shelves with an estimated only 30,000 units sold as of end of May. This game should have ridden the success of its predecessor Bionic Commando: Re-Armed and yet it didn’t. The game’s failure at retail was a shock and the second time a Capcom game this year had really failed to perform.
The last two big titles in my opinion this year are what Capcom does best … the fighting game. The digital release of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was a big announcement for those that follow the fighting game scene and a chance for a new generation of kids to experience a greater, if unbalanced, fighter. The game’s release was pushed from a June release to the now confirmed July 29th X-Box live release. The game was based on the Dreamcast version of the game which has been used in the competitive fighting game scene for years. However the game did not get the same HD treatment as SF2HDR but that seems to sit well with many fight fans. The PSN did get the exclusive local only demo but X-Box live gets the actual game earlier. Some have felt the game will play better on the PS3 due to the controller’s layout and directional pad as opposed to the X-Box controller. There is little doubt that this title will perform tremendously well this year on the downloadable services. The game has been delayed till August 15th on the PSN so that XBL will hold exclusivity for 2 weeks during its summer of arcade.
The last title that is expected to be huge is Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and that will be released exclusively for the Nintendo Wii. This is actually a game that came out in Japan exclusively in arcades and on the Wii in December, 2008. The game has characters from various anime such as G Force and Karas and the usual Capcom line up from Ryu to Morgan of Darkstalkers. Licensing issues were resolved and the game is to be localized and available in winter, 2009. The game’s choice to be ported to Wii is a curious one as the system does not have a North American fight stick but ones from Asia can be imported and used. It’s also strange because it’s a game that does not have a large North American following due to unfamiliar characters. The game’s success on the Wii will determine if we will see a sequel on other systems like the PS3 or the X-Box 360.
Capcom has said, “The game is optimized for the Wii system, especially the graphics features. So if we were to port it to PS3 or Xbox 360 we would have to make the game from scratch, and in that case we might as well just make a sequel of the series on those consoles rather than porting it.”
However several characters will be Wii exclusive and Capcom has gone on to say, “looking into adding new features to the game, including possible additions of several new characters from both Capcom and Tatsunoko and is exploring the option of online gameplay.”
What will happen with this Wii exclusive is uncertain, if supported properly this could be a good addition to the competitive gaming scene and gain wide acceptance rather than being a niche game. Right now, it has several factors in its way, unfamiliarity amongst North Americans and no arcade stick widely distributed in North America for the Wii being the big ones.
Capcom has had a lot going for it this year and minus a few stumbles along the way it’s done well. How the year ends up will depend on games like Resident Evil: Dark Side Chronicles, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom and Dead Rising 2.