The Courtroom: Capcom and the State of the Japanese Gaming Industry

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the first “official” edition of “The Courtroom!”  Last week at San Diego Comic-Con, some of you may have heard the news that Capcom is planning on releasing another version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 called–wait for it–Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.  In this “new” version, all we get are 12 new characters, 8 new stages, and improvements to the the game’s balance and online functionality.  Granted one of the new characters is Phoenix Wright (!!!), this is a travesty considering they are marketing the “new” game at a $39.99, almost full retail price.  It’s downright sickening.  How can they justify selling this when these things were originally planned as DLC?  And to make matters worse, it won’t even be available as DLC like Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition was.

At the very least,  the balance improvements should be available as free DLC.   Balance improvements should always be free.  Look at Starcraft II.  Imagine if they made you pay for every patch that balanced the game; I doubt anyone would be playing it anymore (minus Koreans :P).  Touching on DLC, even if they did offer character and costume packs from anywhere to $5-$15, I still wouldn’t buy it.  I’ve never been a fan of buying DLC for one or two characters, a couple of alternate costumes, or maps (Call of Duty anyone?).  For games like Mass Effect 2 and Fallout 3, I’m willing (not necessarily happy) to dish out money for DLC that will enhance the story like Lair of the Shadow Broker or Broken Steel.  Although I believe all DLC should be free, at least these examples provide ample reason to buy them.  

Moving along, I can’t really say I was surprised at this move.  The warning signs were on the wall.  Just look at Super Street Fighter IV.  It was released back in April 2010 but a “new” enhanced version dubbed “Arcade Edition” was released this past June.  “Arcade Edition” was merely the arcade version ported to consoles.  It also offered new characters (4) and some balance improvements.  However, as I mentioned earlier, and even though I feel balance improvements should always be free and paying for characters is stupid, I will say that Capcom at least had the decency to make the content of SSFIV: AE available as DLC while the UMvC3 content won’t be.  It’s also funny to note that the balance improvements made from SSFIV to SSFIV: AE weren’t much of an improvement at all.  Just check out the user reviews on any gaming site or online retail store like Amazon.  Here’s a link to the review section of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition on Amazon.  This does provide some skepticism to whether the improvements UMvC3 offers will improve the game at all.  If it turns out to be just as terrible as the balance improvements made in SSFIV: AE, then Capcom is really kidding itself if they think they can sell bogus content for $39.99.

We can even go back further and say Super Street Fighter IV was a pathetic attempt at selling a “new” game even though it was basically Street Fighter IV.  Even at the reduced retail price, it didn’t justify buying the “new” game.  One could argue that Nintendo is trying to label remakes for their 3DS as “new” games in an attempt to get people to buy their merchandise.  However, I’m on the side of Nintendo on this one.  What they did with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D was truly amazing (check out LIFE44’s review).  It was in essence the original Ocarina of Time, but you would have to be so anti-Nintendo to realize what they did with the graphic and 3D technology was anything short of amazing.  Not to mention it was portable.  In fact I had no problem with Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition since it was on a portable console (and 3D!).

Therein lies the difference.  Something that significantly changes the game (in the case of Ocarina of Time the graphics, 3D function, and portability) justifies new game price.  Adding new characters is not a significant change, and balance improvements should always–say it with me–be free.  Here’s some moar food for thought.  I have heard all the talk on how the Call of Duty series has become nothing but a copy and paste game.  I tend to bash on CoD like a lot of people, but I’m level-headed enough (or so I think) to know that each game is different (albeit slightly :P…showing my hate :D).  The core mechanics remain the same yes.  But so do the mechanics in every other game series like Fallout, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, Nintendo titles, etc.

All the games in a series are at their core the same, but the changes they make in each sequel or spin-off justifies the full retail price tag.  The disgusting ploy that Capcom tries to sell it’s fan will not work on me.  It’s true that every genre runs into the problem of stagnation/lack of creativity.  FPS, RPG (especially JRPG’s), fighting games, racing games, etc.  But at least developers should try or at least create a great illusion that their latest installment in their series is different and new.  Hey Ubisoft convinced me that Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood was different and new.  Tekken 5 to Tekken 6 made strides.  The newest Mortal Kombat was superb.  Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 just flat out doesn’t deserve to be priced at $39.99.

This brings us to the next point: Capcom and other Japanese gaming giants are falling behind.  Yesterday Capcom released its sale results for the first fiscal quarter in 2011 that ended June 30.  They fell 37% .  It’s interesting to note that during this time, Capcom released Monster Hunter 3 Freedom (in Japan), Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, and Resident Evil: The Mercenaries (which also did not deserve a full retail price…moar on that later. I still bought it though :P).  Since Monster Hunter 3 Freedom hasn’t been released in the U.S. I have no way of knowing for sure if this “enhanced” edition of Monster Hunter Tri is worthy of the price tag.  But it is on the PlayStation Portable, thereby making it a legitimate purchase in my mind (I said the same with Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition).

However, notice how the other two games are either a lazy port (SSFIV: AE) or something that doesn’t have enough content to justify it being a standalone title (RE: Mercenaries).  Gamers it seems are seeing through Capcom’s pathetic attempts to sell games.  Keiji Inafune, the creator of Megaman, said it best when he stated at 2010’s Tokyo Game Show, “everyone’s making awful games,” concluding that “Japan is at least five years behind” the thriving western gaming market.  He departed Capcom later that year in October.  On a side note, Capcom has also failed in delivering us a new Megaman game.  No Megaman Universe and no Megan Legends 3.  Perhaps this is their way at getting back at Inafune?  Whatever their reason is, they’re only alienating their fans even moar.

As much as I love Nintendo (even stating how much I loved The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D earlier in the article), they have also taken a big hit, losing roughly $330 million in the past 3 months.  This has led to their massive price cut of the 3DS ($249.99 to $169.99 effective August 12, 2011) in order to promote sales.  By now you’ve  should of heard of Operation Rainfall.  If you haven’t yet check out the official site.  Basically, a bunch of Nintendo fans on the IGN forums decided to start a movement in order to get Xenoblade, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower released in the U.S.  Nintendo’s response was polite but pathetic.  Meanwhile Level-5, the brilliant developers of Dragon Quest VIII and IX and the Professor Layton series, have set up shop in the U.S. and want to know what titles you want localized.  The poll has since ended.

Going back to Nintendo, while I can understand their point of view, it still sucks that we won’t be seeing these games.  Their point of view?  Well to put it simply, JRPG’s nowadays flat out suck.  Check out this great article on by Ryan Winterhalter.  They simply don’t sell as well.  I mean Final Fantasy XIII sold because of its name (still was a crappy game), but what other JRPG has sold well?  Despite the success of FFXIIISquare Enix has also lost a shit ton of money.  NIS America and Aksys have been releasing localized Japanese games at a slower pace.  The bottom line is that Inafune was right; there is no innovation and their (Japanese) games suck.  I should clarify that while the Japanese industry as a whole is failing, there are companies like the aforementioned Level-5 who are doing well (and to show my fan boy pride, I believe Nintendo will rebound).  Coming full circle, when Capcom pulls stunts like trying to sell an old game with a few (and I mean few) new features at outrageous prices, they are doing nothing but hurting themselves, their fanbase, and the Japanese gaming industry as a whole.  Until next time people…

The following two tabs change content below.


Just a simple man, trying to find his way in the universe. Image hosted by