Ben’s piece on his valiant attempt to struggle through Resident Evil: Revelations was a familiar tale to me, though I was not half as persistent as him- after an hour of tedium on the 3DS version, I took it out in favor of Fire Emblem and it hasn’t gone back in since. My short time with it wasn’t dissimilar to Ben’s description of his own experience, but I don’t feel justified making any real analysis of the game’s failings given how little I played of it. It does, though, make me think about something I’ve been considering a lot lately- the steady decline of Capcom’s relevance.
I don’t think of myself as a Capcom fan, but in truth, it’s probably a pretty accurate description. I’m a big fan of Devil May Cry, Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, Phoenix Wright, Asura’s Wrath, and plenty more titles that Capcom has produced over the years. It’s been something of a love-hate relationship- on the one hand, I love how willing they are to listen to fans, with people like Seth Killian and Christian Svensson always willing to communicate and take feedback. On the other, though, they are terrible at holding onto talent- those two men I just mentioned aren’t at Capcom anymore, nor is Mega Man’s creator Keiji Inafune or the brilliant staff of studio Clover.
That’s the thing, really- when I think about the things that I love about Capcom, they’re all stuff that they… used to do. They gave Devil May Cry a second chance after DMC2 was a huge bust, and the end result was DMC3, one of the PS2’s best games and an instant classic. Jump forward eight years, and any plans to develop a sequel to the critically acclaimed DmC have been canceled, not because it was a failure but because it wasn’t big enough of a success. When Resident Evil had lost steam, they revitalized the franchise with the revolutionary RE4, tossing much of what we knew of the series (zombies, fixed camera, debatably even the genre) out the window to blow us all away. These days, after RE6 was an overbudget, bloated, badly designed mess… the solution is to announce RE7 in the same vein as the last.
The handling of Mega Man, the broken promises regarding DLC, games like Lost Planet 3 released with no advertising or attention at all, simply sent out to die… the list goes on and on. Incredibly, however, their disregard for what their fans want in pursuit of maximum profit has done anything but make them money. Their profits are falling dramatically, with key titles like RE6 and DmC missing their target sales, and trust in the company is dropping away.
And how can they turn it around? What is on the horizon that could be a big boon? Ace Attorney 5 is coming up as an eShop-only release on 3DS, but that series barely makes enough to be worth localizing. Ultra Street Fighter IV will sell enough to make sense, but a fourth rerelease of a fighting game isn’t going to shake up the industry. RE7 is too far off to be an asset, and Dead Rising 3 could make a splash, but with previews citing technical issues and series fans annoyed at the new direction, it’s anything but a sure bet.
Capcom is lost in the woods, and Revelations is just a particularly obvious example of their cluelessness. They have so many beloved IPs, and the next generation of consoles provides a world of opportunity for fresh starts… let’s just hope they have it in them. It would be a shame to see the house of Mega Man and Ryu slowly crumble.