ImRage: Why Capcom Are The Worst Developers Of Our Time
Foreword: Hi guys. Caveshen here. I’m proud to introduce our latest columnist to you today: the man who authored the old Machina’s Machinations opinion columns, from way back when. Please give him a hearty South African welcome, meaning shake his hand then steal his watch and call him a racist.
I’m going to keep the introductions short on this one and say: “Hello to everyone. My name is Imran and I’m a new columnist on eGamer (technically a returning one… long story… not that exciting) and for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be writing a bi-monthly column on eGamer about whatever latest thing in the gaming industry is causing me grief or excitement. I’ll try to keep them under a thousand words a week but this first one is a bit longer due to all my pent-up rage.”
So I recently bought Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 for my PS Vita and while I’m thoroughly enjoying it (awesome game), playing it did bring back a lot of bad memories and gripes that I’ve had with Capcom games over the last few years. Even though UMVC3 is one of the better titles (solid gameplay, plenty of depth and variety) it still carries many of the stigmas that make people absolutely despise Capcom as game developers. You see ‘Ultimate’ Marvel vs Capcom 3 is the sequel to Marvel vs Capcom 3 (hence the ‘Ultimate’ prefix), a game that was anticipated for over 10 years. MVC3 was a smash success, an amazing fighting game with all the characters you know and love from the Marvel comics and the Capcom games and everyone was happy with it until only six months later Capcom released the Ultimate version with twelve new characters and twice as many stages. This isn’t a problem for you if you’re insanely rich and like to take nice long showers in liquid money but for most of us, forking out R600 a year on the annual FIFA or CoD game is just barely worth the marginal improvements. Paying R600 for the exact same game you bought six months ago, feels a bit much like extortion. UMVC3 is actually a really awesome game, but after having just bought MVC3 a month or two after its release for my PS3, I just wasn’t prepared to spend that much money again and I did feel a bit bitter about not being able to play with Vergil from Devil May Cry 3.
Another of the dreadfully sore points that plague MVC3 and other Capcom games is the issue of DLC… or more specifically: paid DLC. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, it stands for Downloadable Content. You pay money and you get to download packages that add extras to your game. Or in the case of Capcom: unlock features that are already on the disc. Let me explain. In Marvel vs Capcom 3 every character has an alternate costume that’s locked away on the disc. Only you can’t unlock it… you have to buy it. So yes, you have to pay additional fees for a game you just paid full price for just to get all the features. Sounds awesome no? Now Capcom defends this strategy. They claim that for the retail price of the game, you get the single player modes, the online modes, over forty characters and over ten stages. They say that the extra content is downloadable after the game’s release as bonus content beyond the original game… they just include it on the disc to make the downloads smaller. Makes sense in a way; if you decide to buy the extra costumes, it’s only a 100kb download as opposed to a several MB download and you can also play against people who have bought the extra costumes even if you haven’t. But here’s what everyone takes an issue with: it’s NOT bonus content, it’s on the disc. If it was on the disc, it means it was completed within the normal development cycle of the game and that means they’re just making you pay for more what they already developed before they even released the game.
In small doses, the locked DLC is bearable I suppose. In MVC3 all I’m missing out on is two characters I’ll never play and a bunch of costumes that don’t really change my life in any significant way. But in their latest game, Street Fighter X Tekken, locked content was present to the point of absurdity (average game by the way). On paper SFXT should be the ultimate game. You’ve got characters from the two best fighting game series of all time duking it out so how can you possibly get it wrong? Well a good way to start would be to be as lazy as possible. Most of the street fighter characters cut and pasted straight out of SSFIV with the same character models, moves and animations. The Tekken characters are really fun but some of them seem like a bit of a hash job at times, borrowing animations and parts of character models from Street Fighter characters when the developers got a bit lazy. Then of course the game has awful music, almost no single player experience, a gem system that was despised even before the game’s release, broken infinite combos (some of which are even easy enough for me to do) and few stages. But despite all of these flaws, I’m sure that the fans (myself included) would still have found reason to like it… if not for the DLC. You see SFXT advertised a whole bunch of features but if you buy the game as is, you don’t get that many of them. The game boasts an in depth colour customization system, but all the colours are unlocked by download. One of the core features of the game is the Gem System, but lots of the gems with strong or unique effects have to be bought. All the characters have alternate costumes, which again have to be bought. And here comes the best part: locked on the disc are TWELVE characters that can’t be used unless you buy the $20 DLC to unlock them. Capcom apparently didn’t have enough time to make a non-ugly face for Paul or remove infinite combos but they had enough time to develop 12 extra characters before the game’s release and then lock them away on the disc just so they could make you pay extra for what they already developed during the planned development cycle. It seems like such a far cry away from the old days where so many games were overflowing with unlockable extras and replay value.
And it’s not only their fighting games that they do this with. Dead Rising 2 was released a year or two ago (average game) only to be followed by Dead Rising 2: Off The Record which happens to be the exact same game but with Frank West as the main character instead… I wish I was joking. And then to top it all off, all the cool extras that you probably bought the game for in the first place, like the lightsabers and the chef weapons, are all paid DLC. I hear that Asura’s Wrath, which I haven’t played, is also a victim of plentiful DLC.
But honestly, none of Capcom’s atrocities can come close to their mistreatment of the beloved blue bomber. I’m talking about Megaman of course, a fan favourite who hasn’t seen much love in the last few years and if you’ve played any of the Megaman X games, you can understand why everyone misses him. One of his incarnations featured in Tatsunoko vs Capcom and he looked set to appear in MVC3 but was ousted by Zero and Tron Bonne, two less popular characters from the Megaman series. That’s not really a reasonable excuse, however, when you consider that there are three characters from Darkstalkers, a game that hasn’t been around for decades, and four characters from Street Fighter and Resident Evil each. It then looked like he would appear in UMVC3 as one of the 12 new characters when he won the Capcom Unity Board poll for most demanded character, but instead Capcom went with Firebrand who you’ve probably never even heard of. Just to mess with you though, Megaman does appear on a wanted poster inside one of the UMVC3 stages and his skin is available as an extra costume for Zero… for a fee of course. Their disregard continued when they announced Megaman Legends 3 for the Nintendo 3DS, a sequel to one of the ironically named legendary Megaman games from the N64 era only to cancel it 9 months into development after showing everyone gameplay footage. They also cancelled Megaman Universe before that. The last straw for Megaman fans came when they finally announced that they were going to include him as a playable character in Street Fighter X Tekken, only they didn’t do it in the way anyone expected. Look at the picture below. That fat bastard is supposed to be Mega Man
If you’re a Capcom fanboy, you’ve probably stopped reading this by now and are busy typing me out a strongly worded e-mail on your Rival Schools keyboard about how we don’t technically own everything that’s on the disc and blah blah blah, but when you compare Capcom fighting games to others, you can immediately see just how far they fall short. Take Tekken 6 for example: 40 characters, 2-3 costumes each, an incredibly detailed character customization system, an amazing soundtrack, a full single player sub-game and fully rendered CGI cutscenes for each character’s arcade mode endings (compared to SFXT’s one paragraph of a guy reading onscreen text). Soul Calibur IV (haven’t played V) also offers a lot: close to 40 characters, two costumes each, tons of stages, a lengthy single player mode, a system that lets you CREATE your own characters with detail and DARTH VADER!!! (V has Ezio Auditore). Next up is Mortal Kombat: close to thirty characters, two costumes each, a six hour single player story mode, a 300 mission challenge mode, literally hundreds of unlockables and Kratos from God of War. While Mortal Kombat does have paid DLC available, it comes in the form of 4 characters developed after the game’s release, chosen by fan demand and each sold separately so you only have to pay for what you actually want. They’re also cheaper than Capcom’s bonus characters. There are also bonus costumes on sale too, but the game already gives you so many extras that you really don’t feel left out.
The point that I’m trying to make here is that when Capcom develop games they focus too little on quality and too much on ways to increase revenue. All of their games released in the last few years follow a very similar pattern: they have fewer features than their competitors and you still have to pay extra to enjoy the full product. Very often as well they’ll also release updated versions of their games at full retail value rather than developing genuine sequels. There’s only so much that gamers are willing to tolerate however and once you’ve broken your consumers’ trust it’s very hard to earn it back. The first sign was that Street Fighter X Tekken was a commercial letdown, selling only 1.4 million copies, 600 000 short of their 2 million estimate. Capcom of course tried to downplay this by claiming there were ‘lagged sales’ and ‘oversaturation of the market’, but honestly the game just carries negative stigma. If Capcom keep up their extortive policies, SFXT won’t be the first game that fails. This whole story is rather sad when you think about it. Only a few years ago, Street Fighter IV was one of he best fighting games ever made. And then when they released Super Street Fighter IV a year later with extra characters, huge gameplay improvements and a reduced price it really looked as though they were heroes of the gaming industry. But Capcom’s evil policies may be symptomatic of our times. Developers are far too willing to cash in when there’s money to be made and sometimes they go too far. If anything however, the failure of Street Fighter X Tekken should tell you that consumers have a lot more power than they think and that your decision not to support developers that you feel are extorting you actually means a lot…
See you in two weeks time…