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Capcom To Work With Western Devs Only On Existing Brands
Capcom To Work With Western Devs Only On Existing Brands
February 1, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

February 1, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Capcom says the sales failure of Bionic Commando has taught it to rethink how it works with Western studios in its effort to globalize.

Bionic Commando, made in conjunction with now-defunct Swedish developer GRIN, sold just 27,000 units at launch, an experience Capcom says "demonstrated the difficulty of outsourcing the development of new [titles] to overseas companies."

Speaking to analysts as part of a Q&A session alongside its most recent financial results, the company said that working with overseas studios remains a key part of its strategy.

"We cannot develop a sufficient number of titles without using the resources of these companies. This is why we plan to continue using these alliances," said Capcom.

"We are considering ways to separate the roles of activities in Japan and overseas," the company continued. "We plan to develop new titles primarily in Japan."

Going forward, Capcom says it is likely to outsource only existing properties "with well-established characters and universal themes" to Western developers. "Overseas companies will also handle certain parts and/or lineups of such games," the company concludes.

It's worth noting that Bionic Commando was, in fact, an established brand -- beginning with a 1987 arcade title and appearing on NES and Game Boy until the 90s. GRIN's 2009 installment was aimed as a next-gen franchise reboot; the studio also developed the better-received NES remake Bionic Commando: Rearmed for Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and PC.

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Michael Khuc
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Yeah, this statement is pretty confusing. Maybe they're trying to say that they're going to outsource only games with well established game design (devil may cry, lost planet, dead rising)... Outsourcing Bionic Commando was risky and failed because it lacked the fun factor. Bionic Commando: Rearmed was basically a remake and more, Bionic Commando Next Gen was experimental and I think Capcom's making the right decision not to trust other people with that stuff.

It's worth noting that Konami is also letting a western dev work on the Castlevania 3D Reboot.

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Mark Venturelli
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This is just sad.

Jamie Mann
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I think what Capcom is saying is that they'll continue to outsource development, but the design will be much more strongly controlled by Capcom.

There's been quite a few high-profile "relaunch" failures - notable ones include Bionic Commando and Bomberman, though you could also list the various Sonic efforts (e.g. Shadow).

The key with all of these is that they've all taken classic characters and dumped them into modern (aka "edgy") game environments, rather than working with the character's strengths. However, as per Sega and their Sonic efforts, bringing design in-house isn't particularly going to resolve this...

(disclaimer: I've not actually played BC, but the reviews are generally less than favorable and the plot listed on the wikipedia article reads like a poor man's Metal Gear Solid!).

Mathieu MarquisBolduc
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Seems to me that they wanted to outsource but they wanted to keep a tight control on the creative process at the same time, which is no easy task. At the same time, establishing an IP with a star team then outsourcing the sequel is a method thats been successful for a number of people - Bioware (NWN, KOTOR) and Infinity Ward (Call of Duty) comes to mind.

Ron Newcomb
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I kinda disagree Mathieu, after what happened with Tenchu. The 2nd game was given to a Western dev, who did a shoddy job. I don't think the series ever truly recovered after that.

But yeah, that sounds like what Capcom will do: "Here, make a #4 in a very recent franchise. It'd be almost impossible to f*ck that up."

Dv8thwonder GunplayNotoy
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Bionic Commando and most recently Dark Void were dead on arrival. Too much of the same and poor game design do not a good game make.