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Christian Svensson is VP of Strategic Planning & Business Development at Capcom U.S. -- and that puts him in an interesting position. Though the company's big hits primarily come out of its Japanese division -- as it is undoubtedly the Japanese developer that best handled the generational transition -- the U.S. division has its say in operations.
In fact, as the owner of the Street Fighter IP, the decision to revive the series and launch the incredibly successful Street Fighter IV -- though, as Svensson discusses, the development took place in Japan under the creative control of the Japanese team, a complicated arrangement.
He also discusses the recent revelation out of Capcom Japan that Western studios, in the wake of GRIN's less-than-successful Bionic Commando, will not handle IP generation but instead work with established brands.
Svensson also touches on his hopes for the spring launch of Monster Hunter Tri -- as Capcom U.S. once again attempts to make the series, which is one of the biggest in the Japanese market, popular in the U.S.
One thing that I have been unclear on is the involvement of Capcom U.S. with Street Fighter. It's still always developed in Japan. Obviously, Dimps was involved...
Christian Svensson: Well, let's back up two seconds. There are lots of parts for Street Fighter. There's Street Fighter IV. Yes, that was developed with Japan. Capcom USA hired Capcom Japan to run and develop that project, who in turn hired Dimps to do work on the project. So, that project developmentally is managed by Capcom Japan, but the project is owned and paid for by Capcom USA, which is ultimately responsible for it.
In the case of Street Fighter, with HD Remix and perhaps some other things that might happen somewhere further down the line, those were all started, initiated, and driven by the U.S. office.
Do you think there is a fighting game resurgence now?
CS: I certainly like to think so. I do think that a lot of the interest and activity and energy that has been poured back into the fighting game community has been jump-started by HD Remix first and then by Street Fighter IV.
I think Street Fighter IV sales are a testament to how consumers have been about it, and I think that Super Street Fighter IV coming up in a little under two months now, the character selections were driven by straight out of the fan feedback that came pouring out as we were going into development on Street Fighter IV. So, we took all of the energy that Street Fighter IV brought and ported it into Super.
I definitely had a lot of nerdface ideas about who should be in.
CS: Every Street Fighter fan does. Everyone has their favorites. Everyone's very passionate about it.
My favorite's not in there.
CS: Which one?
I wanted Elena so much.
CS: She just barely missed the cut. She was the next tier down.
Every time I met Ono, I was like, "Hey? You know what would be really cool? Put Elena in the game."
CS: I agree. But she didn't make it. But, you know, we had done a number of studies as far as popularity.
Super Street Fighter IV
I'm overwhelmingly seeing everyone being like, "Makoto being in the game was a decider for me, a major point whether I was going to buy this."
CS: Dudley was a just-miss the last time around, and it was there sort of a conscious decision to leave Street Fighter III [characters] out in the first outing.
When it came around, Dudley was near the top of the list of who was obviously going to be in the next one. Makoto was sort of the number two in terms of the popularity and "fan fantasy" list.
You're setting the price point for the game lower than the original.
CS: It's $40. We had two choices, and the economics didn't work out on one... No matter what, we were fracturing the userbase, and we had to start from scratch. There was no way to just sort of do an update on the DLC, and if we'd done what we did Lost Planet Colonies -- I don't know if you'll recall -- basically it had everything had the first game had and a ton more.
And we did that as our Platinum package. The problem is that it gets a new title ID, which means no cross-play with the original consumers. And the other part is designing the game around, figuring out who has which package, even if you could do that. So, we knew we had to go from scratch. A Platinum [version] wasn't really an option no matter what we did.
The other part of this is frankly we were putting in so much new content, we thought that a platinum play wasn't the right play anyway. So, going $10 above Platinum/Greatest Hits pricing was sort of a nice compromise. And we haven't announced it, but for those who have purchased and played Street Fighter IV on the system that they play this on, there will be a nifty little special set of things that those people will have the option of enjoying that others won't.
And has the kind of fighting success extended to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom?
CS: To some degree, yes, but not to the same extent. Let's put it this way. That was always a challenging project from a "Is this appropriate for the Western market?" [perspective]. A lot of people worked really hard after the outcry of fans who really wanted to see it happen over here, to bring that Westward.
There were a whole bunch of questions like, "Will fighting fans really support something on the Wii?" And, you know, we're a couple weeks in right now, and we've been doing re-orders. We're not at all dissatisfied with the sales at this point. We are cautiously optimistic that it's going to have long legs...
The Versus series is well served by Tatsunoko as an outing. It really happens bring Versus back as a viable brand for Capcom. So, in that regard...
And I think the fighting community is what has driven that far more than the Wii community at large. It's the fans. They may also have a Wii, and they may be a 360/PS3 player primarily but they also have a Wii. And then there's also a lot of people who bought a Wii just for TvC. Without the fan support and the fan requests, A, it wouldn't have happened, and B, we wouldn't actually be relatively pleased with where we are.