You know that scene in Moonstruck when Cher slaps a guy and yells “Snap out of it!” I want to do that right now with Capcom. According to a report from Gamasutra, to recoup lost revenue and profits this year, they plan to restructure the company to allow for smaller teams to work on games and to also make these games faster. Their reasoning is that, “the company admitted that the decline was down to it releasing ‘only a few major titles‘ over the course of the year.” I’m having a hard time believing this because here we have a game that is a crossover of two big fighting game franchises, another game with a demo of a hotly anticipated game, and said hotly anticipated game coming out later this year. And yet they don’t realize that the regular consumer is starting to become privy to the business practices behind Capcom (thanks in part to us, the internet-going gamers telling them this). And also, Dragon’s Dogma only sold because it was going to have a demo of Resident Evil 6 (think Zone of the Enders with the MGS2 demo). Rather than admit that they are at fault for screwing the average Joe over (and themselves as well), they answer with “well, we just need more games out there.”
So they plan to make the dev teams smaller and make the dev time shorter. Both strategies make sense: Smaller teams mean less money spent on employees and better communication, while shorter time means the game gets released quicker and also means less money spent. But I can’t see them working out together. Smaller teams, no offense to their skill, take longer to make games. Of course in the article they say that 100 people is a small team, and a team that size can still pump something out. But with the time limit they want to place, I can’t see them making something worthwhile and of a quality that meets Capcom’s expectations.
The one bright spot in all this is that maybe, just maybe, the cost of making games now is lower than when this generation first started that they can actually consider this. It’s certainly working for Square Enix now that they have another FFXIII in the works (thanks in part to all the assets from the original FFXIII being available already). The article does mention that, “Alongside this, the company will look to strength its portfolio of games by funneling more funds into new IP and building up new brands.” In other words, money made on sequels will go into new IPs. And if those IPs are good to turn into franchises, then they’ll move to the sequel team. Then the cycle repeats itself, similar to the FFXIII example mentioned above. What concerns me is that they’ll have “multiple sequels developed at the same time.” While this is all to cut down on costs and maximize profit, quality will most likely suffer, they’ll be back in this same situation, wondering why their game didn’t do well.