Capcom’s Leaving Money on the Table

The prudent sees the evil and hides himself,
But the [a]naive go on, and are punished for it.

Proverbs 22:3

Capcom frustrates a lot of people who play their games, that’s for sure.

Have you not heard of the new Street Fighter V update that placed an anti-cheat file that also constituted a security threat for the vast majority of PC users? Or maybe their decision to turn Street Fighter V into a “platform”, thereby releasing a functionally unfinished game to the public without any features for people who aren’t hardcore tournament players? Or maybe we can include the DLC into that equation, which makes the unlockable characters either a mandatory purchase or a time gating effect? Also, colors unlocked via Surival Mode certainly isn’t encouraging either!

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But, opening people’s computers to security risks seems more important!

Let’s add some other complaints to the pile, shall we? What’s up with Resident Evil 7, anyway? Am I playing The Blair Witch Project or something, and why does this look suspiciously similar to 1. Silent Hills and 2. every other horror games released on PC in the last five years? Where’s Mega Man, and why can’t we have any new Mega Man games – why all the merchandising still? What happened to that Resident Evil 2 remake? Is it still happening, and why has there been exactly zero news about it for months and months? Why do they keep making Dead Rising games just to cash in on the whole zombie craze?

Honestly, these are tiny issues for me in the long run. I don’t actively play Street Fighter V, but issues like the above certainly don’t help. But Capcom seems forever doomed to not quite know what to do with their intellectual properties. Again, I reiterate the lack of Mega Man – but more than that, I point out how they fail to use any of their past glories to sell their new stuff. Case in point: Capcom’s arcade output through the 1980s and 1990s.

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The CPS2 was mighty good to us…

I can’t think of a company that has ever made such a streak of memorable titles full of weird ideas, maybe save their competitor SNK. Street Fighter was supplemented by a host of fighting games, from the Darkstalkers/Vampire series to even a game based on Hirohiko Araki‘s JoJo series. Let’s not forget Final Fight, or the endless beat’em ups they put out like Alien Vs. Predator, or (even) Battle Circuit, which I doubt pretty much anybody remembers – they continually iterated on concepts and tried new things despite their massive success with Street Fighter II, and that’s a rare quality that modern Capcom doesn’t seem to have.

But, here’s the thing: they could leverage this nostalgia for their older, more obscure franchises into something great. I only need to point out online services like GGPO, FightCade, and any variations thereof to make that point most definitive. People play Capcom’s old games competitively, even to this day, because they stand the test of time. Even further, that they would find a way to functionally eliminated input lag via a rollback system, and that it would be applied to Capcom’s older games, seems like a great proof of concept.

I can say from personal experience FightCade, though not without its own hiccups and strange mishaps, works as well as you could hope. Moves come out right, internet lag is almost never a problem, and you can play with people around the world with almost no delay whatsoever. With some polish and some corporate backing, this could certainly be turned into a paid service that people could use. I mean, arcade games are by nature competitive, so people would pay for a refined version of this same concept I imagine. And, relatively speaking, the costs only consist of licensing the GGPO technology and actually allowing people to play their old games in legal form. There’s a market for it, certainly – it just seems like Capcom doesn’t really care.

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And lose money. This is frustrating!

They really should, though! How many companies induce that much brand loyalty for games with tournament scenes that still live on today, in both the United States, Japan, and across the world? I can’t think of many – what video games last with that sort of competitive longevity, even games with noticeable balancing issues? How could this not be a lucrative and profitable venture, should companies with huge back catalogs decide to basically make the equivalent of streaming services for video games?

But, I suppose the same could be said for a lot of Japanese developers who rose to prominence in the 80s and 90s. They didn’t adjust to the change in the game market, and they refuse to adapt to those changes. And, furthermore, when finally confronted with their own incompetence in creating solid and reliable products, they just don’t seem to care. Money just sits there on the table with a bevy of franchises that could easily be revived with little effort, re-releases, or otherwise, but they always want the BIG CASH MONIES over the solid, guaranteed return. Why make a consistent profit when you can under-perform with a big game with a budget that was clearly too large for its own good?! It certainly doesn’t help when cashing in on nostalgia basically consists of being gouged by Nintendo for 30 year old games that I could literally download for free with a quick Internet search.

I mean, seriously, if you want to point out a hardening of the heart, look no further than these big companies – always striving to do what’s new, while forgetting the past and alienating their core fanbase as much as possible. They continue in their blissful ignorance, continuing with what works without adjusting for the future. That’s a very bad place to be when Nintendo keeps making hardware like it’s 1985, and it keeps selling poorly. They just refuse to change, and maybe that will be their ultimate downfall. So yeah, when bad things happen to you repeatedly – like, when your CEO just up and dies, for example – you may want to take a second look at how to actually make the company work, leverage your brands, and figure out new ways to sell old stuff that don’t involve screwing over the people most likely to buy those things in the first place.

I’m not speaking in parables, of course – I’m pretty direct – but it seems like businesses could learn the lessons of normal people as well before they crash and burn themselves. I find it hard to watch, but some people may not ever learn from their mistakes.

10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”…13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 [e]In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

[f]You will keep on hearing, [g]but will not understand;
[h]You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15 For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’

Matthew 13

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.