Lost in all the April Fools agitation, humor, and galactic heartbreak on Friday was a bit of big business from Capcom, the Japanese game company responsible for such legendary series as Street Fighter, Resident Evil, and Mega Man. The industry titan has announced that plans to streamline its mobile game development. Specifically, it will merge its own internal mobile gaming division with subsidiary Beeline Interactive to form a new branch: Capcom Mobile Co.
Both Capcom and Beeline had previously been operating separately with their own specific goals and products. The new combined company creation has promised to release four major mobile games prior to the end of its next fiscal year on March 31, 2017. The products in this quartet are expected to be derived from the popular Monster Hunter, Mega Man, and Sengoku Basara franchises.
According to gamesindustry.biz,
Capcom stressed that the strategy is not solely based on the lucrative Japanese mobile market, but there does appear to be a particular focus on Asia as a whole. The company also noted that it would, “strengthen licensed content in Asia,” alongside the new strategy.
Perhaps more importantly, the gaming website also stresses the challenges Capcom has faced in the mobile market, referring to a product released by Beeline in 2012, Smurf’s Village. The title was initially quite a lucrative creation but mobile revenue would quickly begin to decline.
“With Smurf’s Village, we learned that there are not as many core users in this market as there are in the consumer market,” said Capcom COO Haruhiro Tsujimoto back in September 2013. “Outside of Japan, people spend less money on mobile games, particularly in Europe and North America, making it a low-margin, high turnover business.“Today’s mobile game industry is a world apparently full of dreams about making a fortune off a hit game. But if the hit is just a one-off, success is transient.”
Capcom has promised to make “aggressive” use of its famous franchises, which could mean anything from tie-ins to cross-platform products to even full-blown mobile installments in the series, as opposed to spin-offs or off-shoot games.
The motivation for mobile
Amid the success of relatively unknown companies that have found huge fortunes in the mobile gaming market, many of the veteran Japanese gaming giants have been either absent or less visible presences until now. Nintendo, for example, released its first mobile app just weeks ago despite industry analysts, investors, and fans alike clamoring for such products for years. Indeed the product itself, Miitomo, is less a game and more of a social networking service.
Konami announced last year it would be taking a major interest in the mobile space, with Metal Gear Solid V essentially serving as its last console game (however its popular Pro Evolution soccer series will still continue). Square Enix, in the past year, has released numerous high-quality freemium/IAP type games making use of its venerable Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises.
With Capcom’s new-found commitment to creating mobile apps, there will likely be an element of scrutiny amid the company’s more hardcore console gaming audience. The corporation already released several Mega Man games for example, though they were largely ports of older ones. There was the controversial new installment called Rockman Xover which angered many fans due to its less “traditional” nature involving social networking and IAP. Service for the installment ended just over a year ago in Japan.
More recently, Capcom released Breath of Fire 6 for mobile devices in Japan. Despite using one of the company’s long-since abandoned franchises and even going as far as to number the installment, the game could not be more different from the series as it once was. The game currently has a rating score of 2.1 on the Japanese Google Play Store. Of 1681 reviews, 1006 users have given it a single 1 star score. Some of the negative comments come from long-time fans who feel significantly disappointed, others from bug-related issues, and some from the gameplay itself.
If Capcom is able to make games that take advantage of its rich and diverse IP catalog while finding ways to monetarize the mobile space, there is a lot to look forward to for its fans. Until then however, all anyone can do is wait and see what happens. Curiously Capcom Mobile’s website currently lists three apps available, two of which are Snoopy-related.
While this news will likely cater to a more specific group of people – those who like Capcom games – it may indeed end up expanding the Japanese gaming giant’s mass exposure among the more casual crowd. Provided the products are top quality and make good use of the IP, there is a lot of promise to be had.
We want to hear what you think. Does this new push from Capcom seem like a good idea? Has the company’s previous mobile efforts left a sour taste in your mouth? Is the name ‘Capcom’ new to you entirely? Leave your comments below and share them for all to see!
Thanks to BMB for the tip.