Watching the horrors of Capcom’s recent actions last week was a nightmare, honestly. I’ve been a pretty avid fan of theirs for a very long time. Mega Man 3 arguably was the first game my young mind pieced together with an actual company outside of Nintendo – I never really paid attention to that kind of thing until I resonated with MM3. Since those early days, I tended to associate Capcom with quality, and with good reason – despite a few missteps here and there, several of my favorite games and franchises came from this third party powerhouse. Resident Evil 4, the aforementioned Mega Man 3, the Ace Attorney series and Bionic Commando I would take with me to my grave, and I adore Street Fighter, the Vs. series and, to a lesser extent, Resident Evil, Okami, Mega Man, Breath of Fire, Rival Schools, Strider and other franchises and titles. I really have loved Capcom – they’ve made some excellent games and tend to do so consistently.
However, despite being a big fan, even I have to question the ethics of their recent actions. Capcom as a whole are changing, and it seems that their direction is moving away from the company I grew up with and admired. While quite guilty of rehashing in the past, this has intensified in recent years. Street Fighter IV has seen three iterations in three years, ULTIMATE Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 arrives under a year of the original release, Dead Rising 2 getting a recoated upgrade with Frank West, and the intense focus on DLC additions (and then releasing the game with DLC as a second retail release) have made purchasing games from them a dicey business for the consumer. I’m already going to hold off on Street Fighter x Tekken because I can almost guarantee they will be readying a follow-up once they shove the first out the door. How many times does Capcom think they can weasel their customer base like this before they realize they’re buying inferior product? Having not gotten entangled in this behavior until the announcement of UMvC3, I’m not allowing myself to be suckered again.
The Mega Man Legends 3 fiasco is another reason to show concern about one of my favorite companies. The project started out wonderfully – Keiji Inafune expressing the desire to create the game for years suddenly has the opportunity to, and for the 3DS, to boot! Fans who have clamored for a return to the Legends world were excited, and some bought the handheld without hesitation for the good times ahead. Unfortunately for them, this particular experiment quickly showed signs of going sour. Inafune left Capcom, and in his wake a Dev Room concept was pioneered for hype building and fan interaction but later confirmed the game was never greenlit for full production, a paid demo was announced but would not star Mega Man Volnutt but a new character named Barrett, Mega Man Universe was cancelled, the 3DS Shop opened and no trace of said demo appeared, and a removal of the link to the Dev Room on Capcom’s Japanese page all spelled trouble over the few months between its reveal to its sudden cancellation last week. The latest head trips are that Capcom Europe blamed the fans for its cancellation last week on its Twitter feed, and now the Japanese production team are yearning for a last-ditch effort to save the project with more Servbot sign-ups…is this earnest or an attempt to truly screw around their fanbase…AGAIN?
In the midst of ULTIMATING Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and dicking around their Legends devotees, Capcom threw out one of their odder decisions which just iced the cake – a Street Fighter and Hello Kitty crossover merchandising deal. Yes, you read that right. Capcom isn’t keen on developing Mega Man Legends 3 due to financial reasons yet is willing to blow money on licensing Hello Kitty wearing Street Fighter clothing?
I look back on this last week and shake my head. This is not the Capcom I remember. I recall a company that made fantastic games, and while they did regurgitate some of their big properties a bit (Street Fighter II and Mega Man say hi!), they were unafraid of taking risks and trying out new concepts and ideas. Some worked, some did not. The Capcom of today would probably not have made Bionic Commando (NES) because of the radical notion of not jumping. Street Fighter II would be shelved because the first did not garner enough interest or play well enough to have a sequel made. Mega Man himself almost lost his chance in the 1980′s after the first game failed to meet expectations, but Inafune and a small group of devoted Capcom employees worked on a sequel by themselves, managed to get it greenlit and launched one of the finer games for the NES. Legends 3 was in a similar spot, but failed to pass that goal. Now, we didn’t get a chance to see how well it played (which we should have, since we were promised the demo!) compared to being able to buy Mega Man 2, but the point is still the same. The Capcom of today is no longer the one I used to love, and I think I’m going to need some time to come to terms with that.
Popular opinion seems to state that Japanese gaming is experiencing a decline. Capcom appears to be doing its level-best to reinforce that belief, as it pulls one boneheaded move after another. First came the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3. While I’ll admit I’m only a fan in the passing sense of Mega Man as a whole, I can easily see how the die hards would have been hurt by this. It’s been nearly 11 years since the last MML game was released. A lot of people had been looking forward to a new entry in the franchise, and it’s incredibly malevolent for a company to build up their hopes, just to pull the rug out from under them. The best comparison I could make is if Atlus had cancelled Persona 3 in the summer of 2007.
Following that announcement, Capcom displayed absolutely no shame by letting everyone know that Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is coming this November. Now, this is a series that I have more experience with, and it would be an understatement to say that this news pissed me off. It’s not that the revision is unprecedented, per se. Rather, it hasn’t even been six months since the original game hit the shelves. They couldn’t even wait a year to pull this kind of stunt? This is also months after one of the Capcom reps stated that there would be no more DLC for MvC3, inferring that the game hadn’t sold well enough to warrant further development.
Just to rub a little more salt into the wound, the new content for UMvC3 will NOT be available as DLC to owners of the original MvC3. This means that anyone interested in the new characters (Strider, Ghost Rider, Phoenix goddamn Wright) will have to shell out $40 to get them at launch. Naturally, a lot of people are furious over this whole mess, and are vowing to either buy the game used, or just pirate it outright.
Then, just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier, Capcom had the unmitigated gall to say that MML3 just MIGHT be able to come out after all. That is, so long as enough people in the fanbase agree to sign up for a petition that reveals their personal details over Facebook. Why not just take everyone’s social security numbers and credit card info while you’re at it? What the HELL is this company thinking?
A lot of Japanese game developers have fallen pretty far from their glory days. Sega, Square, Konami, Nintendo…Maybe Capcom felt left out. At this point, I’m honestly left dumbfounded from the thought that this is the same company that produced U.N. Squadron, Magic Sword, Breath of Fire, Onimusha, Resident Evil, and a ton of other fun, memorable games.
Regardless of what happens in the future, it’s good to know where the public stands with Capcom. I know I won’t be shelling out for Super Dead Rising 2, or buying into anymore of their inane bullshit. All I can do is look back at how things used to be, and wonder how it got this bad.
So, I mentioned that the developers were clamoring for more people to sign up for the dev room to make a last minute dash (hah) to save Mega Man Legends 3? Well, despite that and other grassroots efforts (including a fairly hefty campaign on Facebook, as Jason mentioned), Capcom’s not changing their tune. This latest flip of a coin is showcasing how screwed up Capcom’s relationship with their fans has become within a span of a couple weeks. I…really don’t know what to think about them now. I suppose I’ll retreat back into their glory days. Breath of Fire II, maybe?
That’s about all that can be done at this point, as it seems that Capcom is honestly trolling the general public now. No new Breath of Fire games, no new Darkstalkers, no new Mega Man. Bionic Commando is probably as dead as Namco’s Splatterhouse right about now. So what do we get? Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition v. 2012!!! This is after a rep for the company already said that there would be no further revisions beyond the original Arcade Edition.
Just imagine if Capcom had been a movie studio over the past 100 years. Casablanca: Championship Edition. Super Godfather II. Forrest Gump Turbo.
They simply have no shame.