In a surprise announcement, Japanese publisher Capcom has announced that it is to dissolve its consolidated subsidiary Clover Studio, responsible for some of the company's most critically acclaimed games, including the Viewtiful Joe
series and Okami
A short press release in English indicates that studio will be dissolved at the end of March, 2007. Apart from European versions of Okami
and God Hand
it is not known what other projects the company is working on at this time and whether the closure in March leaves time for a final new release.
The only reason given for the dissolution is a short statement, which reads: "Clover Studio has met the goal of developing unique and creative original home video game software, however, in view of promoting a business strategy that concentrates management resources on a selected business to enhance the efficiency of the development power of the entire Capcom group, the dissolution of Clover Studio has been raised and passed at a Board of Directors' meeting."
Clover Studio was formed on July 1st, employing numerous staff from Capcom's Production Studio 4, lead by Atsushi Inaba as president and CEO. The company was formed around the goal of promoting and developing creatively diverse games. Although almost all of its titles have been critical successes, the studio has failed to enjoy any significant commercial success, with even the Viewtiful Joe
series slowly dwindling in popularity.
According to unnamed sources cited by
Wired News weblog Game|Life, rumors suggest that many of the Clover Studio personnel may be planning to leave Capcom and form their own development studio. The article goes as far to suggest that the proposed split may have precipitated the dissolving of the studio by Capcom.
Also, today Capcom has released a revised earnings and dividend forecast, which includes a ¥400 million ($3.3m) figure for extraordinary losses related to the imminent closure of Clover Studio. Generally, though, the revised forecasts are an improvement on the previous figures thanks to better than expected sales of Dead Rising
in the West and despite disappointing sales of coin-op Mega Man Battle Chip Stadium
The consolidated earnings forecast for the six months from April 1st, 2006 to September 30th, 2006 now predict net sales of ¥29,100 million ($243.4m), an increase of 13.7 percent, with net income put at ¥1,640 million ($13.7m) - an increase of 188.7 percent. For the fiscal year ended March 31st, 2007 there is no change in forecasts of net sales of ¥68,400 million ($572.2m) and net income of ¥3,900 million ($32.6m).