Capcom takes new IP development back to Japan

Bionic Commando and Dark Void flops prompt publisher to rethink global development

Capcom has said that it will develop the majority of new IP in Japan, after Western-developed titles such as Bionic Commando and Dark Void flopped at retail.

The company had previously dedicated significant resources to creating titles away from its Japanese base, in a bid to sell to a wider global audience.

Western partnerships are still viable, said Capcom, but only on titles that are already established in the company portfolio.

"Our experience with Bionic Commando has demonstrated the difficulty of outsourcing the development of new title to overseas companies," said Capcom. "Nevertheless, we cannot develop a sufficient number of titles without using the resources of these companies. This is why we plan to continue using these alliances.

"We are considering ways to separate the roles of activities in Japan and overseas. We plan to develop new titles primarily in Japan. Overseas companies may be used mostly to develop titles for existing game series with well-established characters and universal themes. Overseas companies will also handle certain parts and/or lineups of such games," detailed the publisher.

Bionic Commando developer GRIN went bust soon after the game was released. Airtight's Dark Void came out at the start of the year in Europe, and after Capcom had already reduced sales expectations, yesterday it acknowledged "potential shortfalls in sales" of the game.

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Latest comments (7)

Dave Newhouse Lighter, Bizarre Creations8 years ago
Lets hope Capcom Japan re make Bionic Commando ... I was so looking foward to that game :(
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Tommy Thompson Studying Artificial Intelligence (PhD), University of Strathclyde8 years ago
It's a shame to see Capcom going ahead like this, particularly after only two titles have been published. While neither game has set the world on fire, Bionic Commando was fun if not a tad frustrating at times, and the Dark Void demo on the 360 seemed a bit rough but again entertaining. Sadly neither gave reason for a day 1 purchase and I will probably go the route of Bionic Commando and play it when the price falls to around 10.

I would be interested to know exactly what "difficulties" impacted the development of these games? Is there a conflict of gaming culture and ideas between what the publisher wants and the developer designs? Is there not sufficient finance for these partnerships? I've often felt the lack of marketing for Capcom games in the US and EU would be a major factor. Despite being big, shiny new IPs for players to get their hands on, games like Lost Planet, Dead Rising, Dark Void and Bionic Commando seem to rely more on good word of mouth. Meanwhile the latest Street Fighter or Resident Evil (on 360 or PS3) is marketed heavily.

If Capcom wish to continue developing for western audiences, perhaps focus on the franchises that do well in the US and EU and focus on their development and even re-invigorate them for these audiences. Sure Bionic Commando tried to do that and failed, but Street Fighter shows this is possible. What about the continued interest in the VS fighting series (please, please make Marvel Vs Capcom 3) or a proper return to the MegaMan X series given the interest in MegaMan 9 & 10? Rebooting the Resident Evil series to compete with major titles from the US?
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Tommy Alvarez Lead Artist, Ubisoft8 years ago
Sounds like if they blame Grin for the lack of success of Bionic Commando... Im not sure thats fair. And Im an ex-Grin ;)
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Show all comments (7)
Soeren Lund Producer, Io Interactive8 years ago
The difference between internally and externally developed titles is a question of financing. Internal teams seem to be able to get a deadline extension until the quality is just right whereas external teams, especially wholly independent third-party studios as Grin, need to re-negotiate the contracts every time a deadline is extended. At some point it stops making financial sense as every budget increase eats away from the potential royalties. If that happens you see studios going bankrupt between projects as there is no funding available to bridge projects.

The above is true for all projects developed by independent studios but with original IP it is maybe even more crucial to hit a certain quality mark before release and therefore finances have a tendency to become strained.
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Matt Martin Editor, GamesIndustry.biz8 years ago
Capcom made similar noises about collaborating with Western developers in the PS2/Xbox era, and that resulted in Without Warning from Circle Studios (ex-Core), which tanked. Maybe Western audiences want the Japanese games Capcom is well known for Devil May Cry, Resi Evil (& personally, One Piece Mansion)?
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Phil Elliott Project Lead, Collective; Head of Community (London), Square Enix8 years ago
It's interesting to read this interview with Christian Svensson from late 2009, where he talks in-depth about the company's policy on Western dev collaborations:

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Phil Elliott on 2nd February 2010 3:38pm

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I also wonder if its a question of Asian vs Western aesthetics.

I've noticed that in delivery of art assets, the eastern tastes prefer all assets to be highly detailed and (excplained), whereas the western aesthetic favours some degree of abstraction, focusing on mood/atmosphere ablended with details.
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