Many beloved franchises came from Capcom. They started the fighting game genre with Street Fighter. They gave us everyone’s favorite blue bomber, Mega Man. They popularized the horror game concept with Resident Evil. They gave us Monster Hunter, which has a large cult following because of its online playability.
But in all of their success and growth, Capcom has lost touch with its fans and became an incredibly greedy company. They have abused DLC, released incomplete games, forced current games to become obsolete with re-releases, and seriously mishandled their franchises.
DLC has been at the center of Capcom’s greed, so it is the best place to start. Capcom is not the first company to utilize DLC, but they were certainly one of the pioneers who invented its widespread practice.
Alternate costumes or skins have always been an additional paid item, so I will not fault Capcom for creating hundreds of costumes for their games—even though many of them were developed pre-launch and used as a pre-order incentive. What I will fault them for however, is taking away a portion of a complete product on the disc and selling it as DLC.
First, in Marvel vs Capcom 3, retailers leaked that Jill and Shuma-Gorath would be DLC characters. This was before the game came out, and before the full roster was even revealed. For news of DLC characters to come out this early meant that the characters have already been completed but are being sold for extra profit. This was confirmed by data miners once they got their hands on the game.
Data miners also exposed Capcom’s DLC tactic in the notorious case of Street Fighter x Tekken. They discovered that the 12 characters who were planned to be released as DLC were already on the disc! In other words, players were paying to unlock content already on their disc, instead of paying for content that was developed post-release.
Naturally, fans were outraged and demanded an explanation. Capcom replied with several poor excuses but the biggest one was “We wanted to save hard drive space on your consoles.” In reality, developers don’t care about how much HD space players have, and players don’t ask developers to make their products take up less space. This is Capcom’s poor attempt at disguising their greedy tactics as a favor towards the player.
Fast forward to Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, and it’s painfully clear that Capcom doesn’t care about their reputation anymore. Their games have grown so big in communities and popularity that they know it will sell. Half a year before the game’s release date, Capcom announced that there would be a season pass for 6 DLC characters. One of which is actually in the main storyline, causing fans to wonder if the character was already complete before release.
Judging by our experience with Street Fighter x Tekken, it’s guaranteed that these characters will have already been developed by the time the game launches. And unlike SFV, there will not be a method to earn in-game currency to unlock these characters. In other words, Capcom is going full speed ahead with making players pay for a roster. Keep in mind that Infinite’s initial roster size is smaller than Marvel 3, and Marvel 3’s definitive version with extra characters is still smaller than Marvel 2’s. So if you’ve been supporting the series, you’re getting less but paying more.
No one does re-releases worse than Capcom. The second iteration of Street Fighter IV, Super, was released as a separate disc rather than an optional upgrade for players who already own the original disc. So players who have kept up since the original release would have to pay a total of $100.00 to continue playing. This was the same case between MvC3 and Ultimate MvC3.
But for later iterations of SFIV, Arcade Edition and Ultra, players were given the option to upgrade from Super via DLC. And it’s entirely possible with SFV, since that’s how new characters are patched into the game. Capcom justified Super SFIV by saying that a separate disc was needed because of how much the game has changed between the different versions. However, this is yet again another poor excuse. Unless the game’s core assets are changed, there is no reason to release a separate disc. You don’t even have to understand how game programming works to know this. Just look at all the mods for PC games like Skyrim— everything can be drastically changed in a patch.
When SFV was announced, Capcom promised their fans there not be a re-release of the game. They intend to support the game over a long period of time with seasonal DLC characters. Not even a year later, the game has already begun to decline because players are not satisfied with the game’s balance and design. This is an opinion shared by both the casual and competitive gamers
of all nationalities. The game is in dire need of a “rebirth” so we shall see if Capcom will break their promise and release Super SFV.
Developers will try to be subtle with DLC and insist that it’s to “add” to our gameplay experience, to “prolong” our enjoyment. Often times, what fans really find out is that the game is incomplete in terms of playability or content. And the “extra content” being sold as DLC, is actually an essential part to having a complete experience of the game, rather than a continuation of the experience.
There is no better example than Capcom’s SFV. SFV was released with only 16 characters, no Arcade mode, a dysfunctional online mode and a barebones story mode. Yes, the fighting game genre has grown to the point where much of the playability is now in tournaments and online play, but this is hardly enough for newcomers who are spending $60.00 for an incomplete game!
Secondly, the price of DLC characters far exceeded the ease of earning in-game currency. In-game currency could only be earned once each mode, and once each character. In other words, there was a cap on in-game currency that can be earned. And very few people would be willing or able to complete Hard mode Survival with all of the characters.
In-game currency could also be earned by playing online, but players would have to grind it out despite Capcom saying you only have to “play a few hours here and there.” But with dysfunctional online gameplay and constant server maintenance, players had even less time to play online. All in all, you’d have to invest a large amount of time to earn any of the characters if you want to avoid paying extra money for DLC characters.
The entire point of having an option to buy DLC characters for free was to compensate for the small starting roster, and their long-term goal of adding characters to the game. But they limited the ability to earn in-game currency so that players would be more inclined to purchase season passes. It wasn’t until Season 2 that Capcom finally released more options to earn in-game currency, but they do little to help the costs of purchasing a DLC character.
With SFV, Capcom became a little more clever with their tactics. They come off as doing players a favor by having an in-game method of earning currency. But an average player would not want to put in so much time playing the game just to earn enough, so they would end up purchasing season passes anyway.
Even more than a year later, players are still unsatisfied with SFV as a product. It still lacks an Arcade mode, the cinematic story was a disappointment, there are numerous balance issues, and Capcom has still yet to address the many complaints of the game.
With Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite on the horizon, many feel that Capcom will not change their methods. First, Capcom has already announced a Season Pass for 6 DLC characters. Second, there is no in-game currency to purchase any of these characters. So right off the bat, MvC:I’s complete roster will be monetized because of Capcom’s greed. Even if players are interested in the game, they would have to shell out maybe twice or thrice the retail amount to have all the characters.
MISHANDLING THEIR FRANCHISES
All of the above is proof that Capcom is mishandling their video game franchises. But no franchise has been treated worse than the Mega Man series. You will never see another franchise this popular and have no games made for it. Anniversary re-releases and mobile games don’t count.
It all started with Mega Man Legends 3, one of the biggest video game announcements of its time. Developers constantly updated us on Twitter and involved the fans with polls. And yet somehow, Capcom screwed up everything as usual.
Several months into development, they announced that a Prototype version of this game would be released. Essentially, it was the game’s prologue chapter released as a demo. Fans were pretty excited that they were going to get a taste of the game in the near future… except there were two problems.
First of all, fans would have to pay for it. That’s right folks, what’s supposed to be a free sample to the game is being sold as a product. Secondly, Capcom announced that development of the game hinges on the success of the Prototype’s sales. When you think about it, this is not that different than a ransom. Mega Man Legends 3’s future is being held hostage by Capcom, and fans have to pay up money if they want to see the whole game.
Not only is this one of the worst video game development decisions ever made, it is also the only one of its kind. No other developer has ever done this before. The decision to sell a beta of the game in order to gauge interest only shows how incompetent and greedy the company is.
Mega Man is one of the most popular franchises in video game history and one of Capcom’s earliest successes. The franchise itself is branched into many different series, and Legends is one of the more popular ones despite having only 2 titles. When Mega Man was announced for Super Smash Bros. 4, the world erupted with excitement. So for Capcom to use the Prototype to gauge interest is really just a lie to hide the fact that they were trying to monetize the game even further.
But the fans never even got a chance to prove their loyalty. 10 months after Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune mysteriously left the company, Capcom announced the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3. Outraged and confused, fans demanded an answer and Capcom said that the game did not receive enough support from its fans. But wasn’t that the entire point of selling the Prototype? To see if its sales justify finishing the game?
The 3DS had sold 11.4 million units worldwide in the same year the game was cancelled. You don’t need to do the math or be a statistician to understand that a popular franchise on a popular console would have been a huge success. So why did Capcom pull the plug on guaranteed profit?
Because they couldn’t finish the project without Inafune. Like Sakurai, Inafune is the kind of director who oversees all aspects of the game. He may not be as involved as Sakurai is with Smash Bros., but his contribution to the game is large enough to be essential in the game’s development.
Most likely, Capcom tried to impose their greedy business tactics on Inafune’s creations, starting with the Prototype ordeal. Inafune disagreed, and eventually was let go or quit voluntarily. To control the damage, Capcom assured fans that MML3 would continue, but ultimately realized they could not finish the game without Inafune’s vision. When the game was finally cancelled, their only excuse was “lack of fan support” because it’s better than coming out and saying “We needed Inafune.”
Ever since MML3’s cancellation, Capcom has underutilized or misused the Mega Man brand. In SF x Tekken, they released “Bad Box Art” Mega Man as an actual character. This version of Mega Man is an obese, old, and pathetic version of Mega Man. It was meant to poke fun at America’s terrible box art of the first Mega Man game, which has become a meme, but it was also a bad move on Capcom’s part. Fighting game fans don’t want a joke character, and Mega Man fans wanted to play their favorite blue hero again. This fad was only amusing to people who didn’t play SF x Tekken or don’t care about Mega Man.
It might have been hilarious, but in light of MML3’s cancellation, many felt it was an abusive mockery of the character Mega Man. In Marvel vs Capcom 3, many felt Capcom would be fools to pass up an opportunity to add Mega Man X. And Capcom proved them right— they instead added Zero and released a DLC skin for Zero to look like Mega Man X. Although Zero’s presence in MvC3 was welcomed, fans also wanted to play as Mega Man X with his own voice and move set.
It was only until recently that Mega Man appeared favorably in crossovers. He was in both Project x Zone games, made a huge splash in Smash Bros. 4, and now he’s back in Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite. But if you exclude his crossover appearances and re-released ports, you will realize that Capcom has not made an original Mega Man game ever since MML3’s cancellation.
This further proves that Capcom does not know how to make another Mega Man game without its creator, Inafune. The Mega Man brand is wasted on Capcom, and could be utilized to do so much more. With Mega Man’s inclusion in Smash, many have even entertained the idea of transferring ownership to Nintendo, who did a great job of portraying Mega Man in Smash Bros. 4.
Anyone who kept up with Capcom within the past decade would know all of this. They know Capcom has a bad reputation when it comes to DLC and their greed, and they know that Capcom gets a lot of hate for how they approach their games. And most of all, they know there is no defense to Capcom.You can’t say “They’re a company who needs to make money” because all that does is state the obvious. Nobody denies that a company should make money, especially if their games are supported by DLC over the long term. But there’s justifying DLC with post-development expenses, and then there’s painfully obvious greed- and I shouldn’t have to explain which one Capcom falls under.Take a look at Nintendo with Fire Emblem Awakening, Mario Kart 8, and Smash Bros. 4. All of these games have DLC that you have to pay for just like Capcom’s games, but there are two major differences.
First of all, their games are complete. Fire Emblem Awakening is a lengthy RPG full of side quests, and a full army of recruitable units. DLC is not an essential part of the full experience. There is only one supplementary story DLC, but the rest are bonus maps that help with EXP growth and earning currency.
Mario Kart 8 comes with a full roster of characters and still has 8 cups with 4 race tracks each. The game improved on the popular kart customization and online gameplay. Their DLC consists of characters and tracks that were developed after the game’s release. Even if there were no DLC, there would be no complaints about the lack of content or how incomplete the game feels.
When it comes to content, very few games can match Smash Bros. 4, pound for pound. The roster size increased from Brawl’s 39 to a whopping 51 characters at launch. They added a mode where 8 players can play at once. Every stage now has a “competitive” version for the more hardcore tournament players. And the game was released on both the Wii U and 3DS. With so many modes, characters, and options to play, you’re definitely getting more than your 60 dollars’ worth.
All of the game’s DLC were also developed post-release. Many of the fans strongly favored DLC characters to see new faces or old personal favorites come back, and Sakurai delivered on both. Even in ARMS, developers have announced that all of their future DLC would be free. Nintendo a great example of how DLC should be done. Their games are complete, delivered on time, and any ideas that couldn’t make it into the main game are sold as DLC.
Let’s take a look at SNK, a fellow fighting game developer like Capcom but with even less popularity and a smaller budget. On launch, the game had a full roster of 50 characters and a complete story mode. 7 months later, they released 4 DLC characters that fans wanted the most. Their two new stages were also free, unlike Capcom. On top of that, some of their DLC costumes were temporarily free to download. And even though their game had awful visuals, SNK released a patch to improves its textures and now the game looks significantly better.
How is it possible that SNK was able to release a more complete product and provide better support than Capcom? It’s because of Capcom’s greed, incompetence, and complacency. In their greed, Capcom sacrifices the quality of their game to make a profit. Because of their incompetence, Capcom can’t even properly balance their fighting games, leaving their competitive community frustrated. And because their brand is so popular, Capcom has become complacent and therefore puts less effort into their games.
I cannot support Capcom as a consumer, even if their games are enjoyable, I cannot give them money in good conscience knowing how many times they screwed their fans over. Unfortunately, many fighting game enthusiasts grew up with Capcom games and developed an emotional attachment to them. Even if they have their complaints, it’s difficult to let go of Street Fighter and Marvel. They reluctantly stick with the games or convince themselves to enjoy it. Either way, they are enabling Capcom’s behavior, so Capcom will not “learn from their mistakes.” They will continue sacrificing the integrity and quality of their game to make a profit. Someday, I hope the magic of nostalgia and loyalty runs out, and that they brand burns to the ground.
I hope for a future where their franchises are bought off by other companies who can utilize them better. I hope for a future where the trend of overtly greedy DLC is punished by boycotts. I hope for a future where the integrity and content of video games are no longer sacrificed for a quick buck.