Although it didn't make a showing for the console's launch Capcom has made a significant impact on the Xbox 360, releasing two new original titles exclusively for the platform. But the publisher isn't pledging all resources to Microsoft - it's merely taking advantage of the full-year head start that the console enjoyed.
Taking advantage of market changes is Capcom's priority over the next twelve months. As Mark Beaumont, executive VP and newly appointed head of consumer software in Europe explains in this exclusive interview, "We're ultimately going to do what's best for the growth of Capcom."
Here, Beaumont discusses Capcom's expansion plans for 2007 and beyond, creating new IP with the help of European developers, the benefits of platform-exclusive titles, the importance of regional autonomy and more.
GamesIndustry.biz:It's a new year, and you've got a new position at Capcom - so what has the company got planned for 2007?
Mark Beaumont: Well firstly we've got Lost Planet. There's not a ton of competition in the next few weeks so we've got a good opportunity to exploit that. We've also got Okami for the PS2 which has done very well for us in North America, and we have very high expectations for that in Europe.
And then we've got a full portfolio of products, everything from PSP to PS2 to DS, culminating in Devil May Cry which is coming out later in the year, probably in the autumn, which will be our next real triple-A push.
And then as we roll into 2008 we'll have new versions of existing franchises and new titles that are original IP. We're really starting to ramps things up and become that much more significant in the marketplace.
GamesIndustry.biz: With the all the next-gen consoles out on shelves, is now the time for Capcom to really take advantage of new technology, new opportunities and to capitalise on its position in the market?
Absolutely. When you're at the front end of a hardware cycle, that's the time that consumers will take more of an experiment with the titles they'll try. It's allowed us to bring out Dead Rising and now Lost Planet, and establish two new franchises that we can use for years to come.
We've looked at this statistically over the past years and the best time to bring out new IP is at the start of a hardware launch, or within the first year. Once you get into the back end of a console cycle it's tougher because the audience is looking for existing franchises it's already comfortable with. This has been a great window of opportunity for us.
You've been responsible for a lot of growth in North America. Now that you're overseeing the European region, what plans to do you have specifically for the territory?
What we're trying to do is have a shared vision across the two territories. Strategically, at a high level, we want to look at ways in which we can work with the two groups, the US and Europe, so that there's a common strategy in use.
Having said that, we'll absolutely be doing local market implementation because you can't do things the American way of here in Europe, and vice-versa. Particularity on the marketing side, it's about looking at the types of products and working them locally. But at the high-end strategy - what the positioning is, what the messaging is, things of that nature - we want to do on a more global basis so we can really reinforce our brands across the entire Western territory.
We're also looking to expands our business in both regions by creating Western content above and beyond what's being created in Japan. We've begun an initiative of creating next-gen product for North American and Europe that will show up in the marketplace in 2008.
As your new position is going to be overseeing both the US and European territories, does that mean Capcom Europe is going to become less autonomous?
That's one of the critical points in all of this and the direct answer is no. What we're trying to do is be smart about how we run the business. We're trying to make sure that where we have shared economies we can take advantage of them. Things that have worked well in North America and Japan, we want to exploit that in the European market. And things that work in Europe we want expand out in to the other territories.
But at the same time we are absolutely focused on the European business being a stand alone entity that can be successful in its own right. All of the efforts that are going on within Capcom are looking to allow us to grow in this territory specifically.
Is Capcom still interested in working with European development teams to create new IP?
That is part of our initiative to grow product and broaden our portfolio - working with the best available talent to create new experiences that people haven't seen before. We're going to focus on teams that have core competencies aligned with the type of product that we want to create. Our Western development initiative is not going to focus on horror products, because we already have them.
As we look at new genres for Capcom and other products we want to create, we'll be looking to do that with developers who have really strong skills and a track record in creating that kind of content.
What are the main attractions for Capcom in working with European developers?
You obviously have the cultural difference, but also, speaking candidly, there's economic differences. Working with developers in the Eastern Block is cheaper than working with teams in Los Angeles. Those elements, particularly when you take into account next-gen budgets, start to become a very important factor in how you look at the development teams.
Plus, there's really a lot of incredibly accomplished developers in the European marketplace. If Capcom is looking for the best companies within a particular type of product, then we have to look towards Europe as a potential source for that. Simply put, some of the best teams are in Europe. We're not locked into any hard and fast rules about working with specific territories, we'll go where the best development is.
You've supported the Xbox 360 with exclusive titles. As a publisher, do you still see value in creating exclusive games for a single format?
It's really a question of the window of time, the right content and where we think we can have the most success. Quite honestly, Dead Rising and Lost Planet have come out at the time when that was the only next-gen hardware available. There's other hardware available now but it's only just come out. We tend to stay away from launch windows, we prefer to wait until there's an installed base before we bring the content to market.
There will be opportunities to do things specifically for other platforms. What immediately comes to mind is that if you're gong to create something high-end on next-gen, and you want to create something for Wii, you're really talking about creating two different development projects.
We'll have exclusive content for the Wii because we want to do specific content for the system, and that doesn't translate to the 360 or the PS3. With other products, we'll make decisions on what makes the most sense for the company and the market. For the most part I see Capcom as being platform agnostic going forward, but there are going to be opportunities that make sense for us to be associated with a specific platform.
The nature of the business is that there are times it makes more sense to align yourself with a specific hardware manufacturer. We're ultimately going to do what's best for the growth of Capcom.
Mark Beaumont is Executive Vice President for Capcom Europe, interview by Matt Martin.