Some of you may remember the Capcom Five, a collection of five Capcom-developed games committed to help dwindling Gamecube hardware sales and poor third-party support. Ideally, it would have given the hardware some much-needed love, and the publisher saw the console’s demographic as one befitting of games such as Killer7, Viewtiful Joe and, of course, Resident Evil 4.
While the idea -- which included the solid P.N.03 and the cancelled but awesome-looking Dead Phoenix, seemed driven by a financial agenda rather than by gamer interests -- it turned out being one of the finer moments of the Gamecube’s life. However, the Capcom Five is also indicative of the publisher’s most recent fall from grace, where hope for “mass audience” appeal and the degeneration of popular brands like Resident Evil take precedent, as the company, rather recklessly, looks to turn its fortunes around. Capcom fans have gone from being excited about the next release from the exciting Capcom Five, to being concerned about how the publisher’s going to ruin the next popular franchise.
It’s The DLC, Stoopid!
The downloadable content controversy from earlier this year demonstrated Capcom’s own naivety when it comes to gamer tastes, market wants and...well...just the overall level of intelligence among gamers. The company would essentially pen the term “on-disc DLC” amidst stern gamer criticism of extra content appearing on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 discs of Street Fighter X Tekken. It would go on to justify this by saying:
“By including these 12 characters on the disc, the idea was to ensure easy compatibility between players who do and do not choose to download the characters when they arrive as DLC.”
While this response is completely coherent (and it seems to be genuine), it’s particularly flawed. Why charge for “additional” content when it’s not actually additional: it’s already on the disc. You buy the product, you open it, and it’s there. It’s just locked, waiting to be unlocked with DLC that should be free anyway. The reality is that this issue is present throughout the industry: Call Of Duty games deal with this by simply not pairing those with the DLC with those without it, while also giving those with the DLC the option to turn it off.
The big issue here, though, is that it was priced. Understandably, the developer wanted to make it easier for itself by including the content on the disc. But in that case, it should have been free. With the content already being on the disc, this is Capcom simply bleeding a few extra dollars out of its loyal fans.
Save By A Mercenary
Capcom’s decision for all Resident Evil: Mercenaries game saves to save directly to the Nintendo 3DS cartridge was labelled as anti-consumer, as EB Games Australia pulled the game from its stock list and refused to sell it. While EB’s decision was bad in itself, Capcom’s plight was in releasing a game that couldn’t be restarted, all but ruining its used-sale potential and making it difficult for gamers to pass on the game to friends and other good homes.
Cooperatively Screwing Gamers
Without wanting to harp on the whole Street Fighter X Tekken DLC debacle too much, the issue itself actually goes a lot deeper. When the game was released, many Xbox 360 owners were surprised to realise that the version didn’t have pair-player cooperative play, despite being advertised (for the PS3 version) and in the game’s manual (for both the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions). For those playing at home, pair-plays allows two local players to play online with or against other people.
Capcom’s reasoning for not including it:
"Unfortunately, due to time and resource constraints, Capcom was not able to include that feature in the XBox 360 version and it apologizes to those players who were looking forward to it. Because of the scale required to implement this feature, Capcom has decided that it will not do so, and will not be providing a patch for this feature."
The infuriatingly frustrating thing about this is that the company had the capacity to create DLC (on-disc DLC, mind you), but didn’t have the “time and resources” to make pair-play possible on arguably the easiest console to develop for this generation: to suggest that an online feature is easier to develop for a PS3 game over an Xbox 360 game, unless it’s online multiplayer of the M.A.G. variety, is especially insulting to gamers that know that isn’t the case at all.
The company had previously said that the lack of pair-play was because of restrictions in place by Microsoft, despite pretty much every online game on the console allowing pair-play online action.
Let’s also not forget that the game’s DLC, which, in Capcom Land takes priority over core gameplay mechanics, absolutely must have been finished prior to the game’s release, and that rumours that it was part of the game before being pushed as DLC for some extra bucks were probably true: if time and resources couldn’t be dedicated to frickin’ online cooperative play, then where exactly were they being committed to?
Mega Man, Y U NO MEGA?
Mega Man Legends 3 and Mega Man Universe are two games that were never going to get made. Let’s face it. The sad reality is that Capcom toyed with gamers for a long time, and eventually hurt series diehards (and Mega Man fans are ultra passionate, so don’t piss them off!) by releasing Mega Man X in a money-grabbing awful rendition on iOS devices. The series has fans, has a market and has a strong brand, and yet Capcom is openly, effortlessly killing it with cancellations and re-releases of games people played long ago.
Dante is, like, totes cool
For what it’s worth, DmC looks OK: much of the hate comes from the same type of fanboy that was up in arms about Mega Man Legends 3’s cancellation (although that is understandably a little more distressing). That it’s being developed by a Western developer, and with a younger, emo Dante, is something the fans really, REALLY don’t like. This is a big risk, and while the game looks the same, it doesn’t really SEEM like Devil May Cry. Developer Ninja Theory has had experience with the genre (Enslaved, Heavenly Sword), but it’s quite obvious that Capcom is passing on development to someone more inclined to create something appealing for a mass audience. Will that make for a better game?
If we’re going to look back at Capcom’s history of handballing developement off to third-parties with no experience with the brand, then Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a game worth considering: it’s awful, and Slant Six Games failed to reinvent the series, despite Capcom’s promises that it would herald a new beginning for the franchise.
Power To The People...Or Not
This, for me, is the big one. Capcom has come out and said that horror “might not have mass appeal”, which would justify the Resident Evil series’ push into action. The problem is that the company has created a game in Resident Evil 6 that doesn’t appeal to the “core...Resident Evil fans” it hopes to appeal to, alongside a “mass audience” that’s “saleable”. Yep. Capcom’s business philosophy is to take a series that has an established market, completely change it so it’s more appealing to more people, lose the core audience, create a crap game, sell no copies and lose money.
That’s basically the jist of it, right?
How can you attract a mass audience with a poor product? I’ve never in my life seen such a patronising, insulting piece of garbage come from a publisher. They’ve created a game that’s accessible to a mass audience, but where exactly is that mass audience for Nintendo now? How long does it last? And then what? Will Capcom go back to survival horror and expect to get its fans back?
It’s mind-boggling how hard this company is trying NOT to fail by doing things that make it seem like it WANTS to fail.
By Gaetano Prestia