Capcom's VP of strategic planning and business development, Christian Svensson, has told GamesIndustry.biz that he believes there's nothing more difficult in the videogames business than launching a new IP - and while it's always been a challenge, it's something that tougher once a new hardware cycle is well underway.
"There is nothing more difficult in this business than launching new IP," he said. "Capcom is fortunate, and I think has a better track record than most - we do very few licensed properties. Look across our history, and our portfolio of products, and they are all things that we own and control. Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Devil May Cry, Lost Planet, Dead Rising, Okami, Megaman: these are all iconic brands.
"And I would look at Okami, Dead Rising and Lost Planet as three of this generation's(ish) successful new launches. We brought back Street Fighter to be relevant again, after a nine or ten-year hiatus of re-releases and rehashes. These are really hard things to do.
He went on to point out that as the console price points come down and the installed base grows, the broader audience tends to look towards established franchises - and while early adopters are still there, they face a greater level of choice than at the beginning of the cycle.
"I think new IP is always hard," he said. "Three years ago, the difference is you're at the beginning of a hardware cycle, where you have the most hardcore consumers who are the most accepting of fresh new ideas. Don't get me wrong, they want their Modern Warfare 3, they love their franchises, but they are also guys who are on the lookout for, and want to evangelise, new playing experiences. We're going to have a longer hardware cycle this time around, so it's going to be a little bit different.
"We have a broader audience than we had three years ago. Our new audience may have brought a USD 199 Xbox, or a USD 299 PS3, or a USD 199 Wii - that's a slightly different consumer from the person who would put down USD 599 or USD 499 for a PS3 three years ago. This is a more brand-centric, price sensitive consumer than that earlier consumer, and they are less likely to be as informed about 'that new IP from Capcom' than those guys from three years ago.
"Now, those guys from three years ago are still there, but they have a lot more choice in the market today, between what's new and hot, and a slew of 'greatest hits' that are well known and great value for money. So you're competing not just against what's out on the market today, but what's been out on the market for the last three years."
The second part of the interview with Christian Svensson, in which he also talks in-depth about the increasing importance of digital distribution, is available now.