Japanese-headquartered veteran publisher Capcom is, of course, best-known for its high profile Japanese-developed games. Devil May Cry 4 is the latest in a line of titles like Lost Planet and Dead Rising to achieve notable sales in the west.
However, the staff at the U.S. arm of the conglomerate are working hard to make it just as relevant to the company's success. They're moving forward by concentrating on digital download titles for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, such as the Certain Affinity-created Plunder and Backbone's careful remake - Street Fighter II HD.
Here, Capcom’s vice president of strategic planning & business development, Christian Svensson, articulates his continuing plan to raise the company's fortunes, and its parent's awareness of the market situation in North America and Europe.
During the presentation, [senior corporate communications director Chris] Kramer actually said there are some triple-A titles and some A titles. I was very impressed that he actually said A titles, because people don't usually use that -- it's either triple-A or it's just a game.
Christian Svensson: Right. There's what people say publicly and then there's reality, and I think the reality is that not every title is Devil May Cry or Street Fighter IV or Resident Evil 5, and that's fair to say.
I think our digital titles are never going to be as flashy as our titles with the budgets that I just mentioned, but that doesn't make them uncompelling, and doesn't make them unengaging.
Quite the contrary -- I think when you look at some of the titles like Plunder, which is probably one of the favorite titles I have across everything that we're doing, it's going to find an audience. There's no question about that. There's going to be a community that forms around that game, that becomes interested in competition, interested in being the best. I could see Counter-Strike clan-type things popping up around that game.
That was really what attracted Capcom to it particularly. Any game where you have, on first playable, people screaming commands at each other across the office, you're probably onto something. It came to us in a state that was already pretty playable and pretty fun, and we've just been honing and drilling down on that further and further and further over the past seven, eight months or so.
There's obviously a lot of digital download stuff coming from Capcom right now. Not that it's such a bad thing, but why the big push right now?
CS: I think the timing of it is largely because there are two things coming to a head. Number one, there's an audience -- there are now consumers who in some cases look to digital first. It's not a huge audience, but it's growing every single day. And there are people who are seeing tremendous value in what can be offered there.
The other part of this is that I think the retail climate, particularly in the U.S., but to some degree in Europe, we're looking at ever-shortening shelf lives for titles, and I think we're looking at lots and lots of content that doesn't lend itself to finding an audience in two or three months.
I think the Street Fighter community is an active and avid one -- I'll point to our success with [XBLA title Street Fighter II] Hyper Fighting: we're still selling a lot of Hyper Fighting every single month and we're, what, twenty-two months past launch? If we were in retail we'd have been managed out of the channel long ago, and those consumers wouldn't have found that content. I think that a much longer shelf life allows for different kind of content to be viable that wouldn't make sense in a retail setting.
So it's a long tail for new purchases -- because in retail, you can buy used games.
CS: Correct. It's also about aggregating community, so again, the type of content we're trying to build here always has some kind of community aspect to it, whether it's a competitive context, whether it's a co-op context, whether it's a user-created content context, and you're going to see on titles even further out on the horizon when we finally do get around to announcing some of the things for much later '08 and into '09, that we're going to become even more aggressive in the scope and scale of these projects.