Capcom CEO Talks 3DS, Resident Evil and Mega Man Online
Tsujimoto hints at Resident Evil developments timed with upcoming movie's release.
Capcom CEO Haruhiro Tsujimoto is the latest exec to be featured in Nikkei BP's ongoing "Keyman" series of video game industry higher-up interviews. In a lengthy interview posted on the 3rd, Tsujimoto discussed his company's performance in 2009 and also provided some insights into what could be on the way later this year and beyond.
Tsujimoto described 2009 as a year where Capcom was aided greatly by series titles. Most notable among these was Monster Hunter Portable 2nd (Monster Hunter Freedom Unite overseas), whose budget version sold one million units over the fiscal year. Tsujimoto attributes such long-term success as indicative of Capcom's game-making practices being received favorably by gamers. He also believes the efforts of Capcom's business divisions in creating "sales spaces" at retail helped out greatly.
Other titles mentioned by Tsujimoto as strong performers for 2009 were Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition. The former saw continued repeat orders he said.
Newcomer titles didn't fare so well, and this became a major topic for Capcom, said Tsujimoto. Titles like Dark Void and Bionic Commando that were developed in partnership with overseas studios failed to reach their initially planned sales targets.
Capcom isn't pulling the plug on overseas tie-ups, though. In fact, Tsujimoto feels that working with overseas developers is essential. However they'll be doing things a bit differently. Previously, external developers would develop game designs that they themselves made. From here on out, Capcom will make use of their old IPs and develop games in a number of countries while having the Japanese side take the lead. Tsujimoto feels that rather than just leaving the projects up to the overseas developers, it's important for Capcom's development staff to become deeply involved.
Domestically, Tsujimoto pointed to Street Fighter IV as a good example of Capcom having achieved success when working with a domestic development studio. To make hit titles like this, the people on Capcom's end have to take the lead in deciding the "what" and "what kind of taste" of development, and then making requests of developers.
Outside of series titles like Resident Evil and Monster Hunter, Tsujimoto agreed with the Nikkei interviewer that the creation of original properties is essential for continued growth. However, he noted that Capcom continually creates new titles. In fact, he believes Capcom's strength is in the creation of original titles; this is what gave birth to such series as Monster Hunter and Phoenix Wright, he said. As examples of original titles for fiscal 2010, he mentioned Ghost Trick (DS) and Last Ranker (PSP).
Capcom's highest hopes for 2010 are with sequels, though. For Japan, Monster Hunter Portable 3rd is the big attraction. For overseas markets, Dead Rising 2 is the big game.
Regarding Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, Tsujimoto noted that the series has seen a sales trend like no other title in the company's history. He's looking forward to seeing how sales of the new entry will be immediately after release later this year.
PSP isn't the only game getting a new Monster Hunter. Xbox 360 will get the first HD Monster Hunter through a version of the PC online title Monster Hunter Frontier. Asked about a possible worldwide release for the game, Tsujimoto said that if Capcom can clear some of the difficulties associated with a worldwide release, such a release would be possible. However, because the development staff is in Japan, they must first make the game compatible with the Japanese Xbox 360 and investigate such things as different user trends from PC users, infrastructure problems, and service issues.
Outside of Monster Hunter, there's one big online title from Capcom that has recently been making headlines: Mega Man. As detailed in Capcom's earnings report last month, Korea's Neowiz is developing an online Mega Man game for Capcom (a more formal announcement was made last week, although this was after Nikkei's interview with Tsujimoto). Tsujimoto explained that the project started off with Neowiz expressing the desire to make an online Mega Man game and presenting Capcom with an idea. Capcom's side felt that the idea would result in an interesting game.
The online Mega Man game will be released first in Korea, but Tsujimoto feels that it will be essential to at some point think about bringing it over to Taiwan and China. Also, because there are lots of Mega Man fans in Japan, he believes it will be possible for the game to see a Japanese release if it is determined that the resulting game is something that would be accepted by Japanese gamers.
Nikkei also asked Tsujimoto about "multi use" developments for content. He brought up two examples in response.
First, Sengoku Basara. Timed with the July release of Sengoku Basara 3 on PS3 and Wii, part 2 of the Sengoku Basara anime will begin airing, noted Tsujimoto.
The other example involves Resident Evil. Said Tsujimoto, "The 3D movie Resident Evil IV Afterlife starring Milla Jovovich is scheduled to hit theaters on September 10. Timed with the movie's release, we'd like to do something to heat up the game series."
Finally, one of the regular questions in this year's batch of interviews: what does Tsujimoto think about Nintendo 3DS? The Nikkei interviewer actually brought up 3DS in reply to a statement Tsujimoto made about the success of NTT DoCoMo's iMode mobile contents service. The reason the NTT service was such a success, believes Tsujimoto, is because it provided a full business model, allowing for a good cycle for providing a large amount of content. This separated it from the services provide by other carriers.
For 3DS, Tsujimoto feels the 3D technology is just one element of the system. Said Tsujimoto, "Of course, it allows us to do things that couldn't be done until now, so the development staff is showing great interest, but what's important is how much the users themselves want 3D content. What we're more looking forward to is the offering of a new business model. Nintendo has been in the hardware business for a long time, and I believe they must be looking closely at Apple's recent success. We third parties are paying attention to Nintendo's E3 3DS announcement because of this point as well."