Editorial: Capcom and Gamers, a bond that's as old as Capsule Computers.
With the recent two-tiered release of the Resident Evil 5
demo, almost a full two months before the game's launch date, Capcom has proven once again how they truly understand the video game industry and community. But their extensive use of pre-release demos is not the only way that Capcom "gets it." The company also has a deep back catalog of games going back to the days of the NES that they mine and refine for game ideas. While some companies could use this history as a crutch, Capcom also takes chances on original titles that are often quirky or unique in some way. While these experiments don't always pay off, they are always interesting.
Try WAY Before You Buy
Capcom's understanding of the video game community is most apparent when you look at in the context of two very big demo announcements that happened on practically the same day. In mid-January, Capcom announced that a Resident Evil 5 demo would be made available on the Xbox Live Marketplace on January 26, 46 days before the game's planned retail release. Several days later, Sony revealed that the next PlayStation 3 killer app, Killzone 2
, would also receive a demo before its release. A single day before that is.
While it's true the Killzone 2 demo will be available to gamers who have pre-ordered starting today, that fact further underscores Capcom's commitment. Those that have pre-ordered a game are already buzzing about it. A pre-release demo that appears much earlier than a game's physical release has the ability to expose more gamers to a quality title they may not have looked into without a demo. Although, Sony deserves credit for even producing a demo for Killzone 2 as a lot of "AAA" titles don't get such treatment because the hype is already at a fever pitch (yes, I'm talking about Microsoft and the lack of demos for Halo 3, Gears of War, Gears of War 2
, etc, etc).
Capcom is no stranger to producing great demos as the company has been doing it practically since the current generation's inception. The new style of zombie battling in Dead Rising
was first shown to gamers in the form of a pre-release demo. The timed mayhem of the demo lead many to declare Dead Rising the first real must have game on the Xbox 360. But that was small potatoes compared to the demo effort for Lost Planet
. A short two mission demo was released on the XBLM during E3 2006, eight months
before the game would be released exclusively on the Xbox 360. Not only that, but this demo was the same game E3 attendees were playing on the show floor. All of a sudden, a game that was barely on most gamer's radars became one of the highlights of the show.
Mining Their History For Gold
Capcom is one of the oldest game developers in existence, beginning life as Japan Cap
puters in 1979. Their first arcade game followed in 1984 and 1987 the company cemented itself as one of the leaders of the industry with the debuts of Street Fighter
and Mega Man
. Through the years, those two mega franchises have been joined by the Resident Evil
series and the Devil May Cry
as Capcom's tentpole franchises.
The company's care with this stable of familiar faces is what sets them apart from other publishers. "Care" might seem like a strange word to describe a company that produces so many games (there are almost 70 titles in the Mega Man series alone), but Capcom has always been able to find unique ways to build on this extensive history and create games that people want.
When people were worried that the Resident Evil series was getting stale after Resident Evil 3
and Code Veronica
, Capcom spent five years developing Resident Evil 4
and completely revamped the franchise.
When people were asking "where did the Street Fighter series go?" Capcom answered with a cel-shaded 2D fighter that feels modern, but looks retro. Hopefully, Street Fighter IV
will be the game fans have been waiting for.
When people told the company that Devil May Cry 2
wasn't up to snuff, they took those complaints to heart. Capcom then turned around and created Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening
and Devil May Cry 4
, two games that are considered by many to be the equal of the groundbreaking original.
Capcom has also given their actual history back to fans in the form of a quartet of quality classic collections. The first two, Capcom Classics Collection
and Capcom Classics Collection Volume 2
compiled 42 games from Capcom's arcade heyday (including four of the five Street Fighter II
variations). The other two collections, Mega Man Anniversary Collection
and Mega Man X Collection
, brought together the entire Classic series, the first six titles in the X series and a trio of the spinoff games.
Finally, Capcom has realized that their extensive back catalog has opened their games up to several generations of gamers who have, in turn, owned any different platforms. Because of this, the company has realized that the best way to reach every gamer is to develop for every gamer. Starting with Devil May Cry 4, Capcom has pledged to release all of their major titles on as many systems as possible. In other words, this pledge ensures that Capcom's future will be played by many more gamers than at other time in the company's history.
History Remixed and Rearmed
Capcom is also one of the pioneering trailblazers in the brave new world of console digital distribution. And they are doing it with a nod to their past (and future) glory. Bionic Commando: Rearmed
took the NES classic and fantastically updated it for 2008 (not to mention the full 3D sequel coming to the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 later this year). 1942: Joint Strike
was an homage to everything great about the 194X series of scrolling shooters. Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
took the company's flagship fighter and made it even more beautiful while adding online play.
And then there's Mega Man 9
. With the ninth Mega Man adventure, Capcom bucked convention and developed the game as if it were 1989 and Mega Man 9 was being released on the NES. The game's charming "art style" was a hit with the character's mega fans and developer Inti Creates managed to distill the essence of the Mega Man Classic series into an entirely new game. Not only that, but the company commissioned "boxart" for the game that looks like it came straight out of the 80s. To say that that kind of dedication to a downloadable title is rare is an understatement.
Best of all, Capcom is listening and company executives (including Keiji "Mega Man's Daddy" Inafune) have confirmed that Mega Man 10
is being considered for development.
Take A Chance On Me
Even with a massive collection of familiar franchises to draw from, Capcom does what gamers wish every company did and takes chances on new games all the time. In the last few years Capcom has introduced the breathtaking watercolor world of ancient Japan to gamers of all cultures with Okami
, mixed vampires and the old west in Darkwatch
, brought back to the 2D beat 'em up with Viewtiful Joe
and created a rollicking pirate adventure with Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Capcom plans to continue to take chances in the future, such as the upcoming Dark Void
. Developed by new studio Airtight Games (which is made up of former members of Crimson Skies
creators FASA Interactive), Dark Void uses a similar premise of The Rocketeer
and takes it over the top with the Bermuda Triangle, aliens, and using a jetpack to take cover behind flying debris. It is dark and moody and has us totally geeked out. And while they haven't been officially announced yet, Capcom has seen some of their recent gambles pan out as they plan to release sequels to Dead Rising and Lost Planet.
They even take chances in their native Japan as the publisher of Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto
series. While GTA is not something that Japanese gamers go for in droves, Capcom recognizes the artistry behind the series and wants to spread it as far within their borders as they can.
Take A Lesson From Capcom
While some people may not realize it, Capcom is a gamer's game publisher. They make games we want to play, they listen to us and most important of all, they get us
. I would even go far as to say that they get gamers better than any other company out there. And what more could you ask?