A couple weeks ago in the Ask Capcom forum, Mike asked a question about why Capcom Japan doesn’t take PC gaming seriously . I took that question to be really more of a plea for more or better support than we have provided but at the same time wanted to provide some context and understanding about the Japan market for PC gaming , where Capcom has come from and where it’s going. Snow felt that the thread was a good topic for a blog update and asked me to write somethiing up so here we are.
I’ve taken that post as a base and added a few extra bits.
The push for PC gaming within Capcom over the years has been lead by a select few people. I’m one, putting my money where my mouth is with my forecasts. Similarly our European COO, David Reeves and our head of Capcom Germany, Michael Auer have also been vocal proponents. Takeuchi-san and the MT Framework team have been the biggest supporters on the development side. I’m happy to say that those few select people are getting increasing support from a broader array of stakeholders globally.
Going back in time for a moment, when I entered Capcom nearly six years ago, I viewed PC as extremely important for the company, not just to grow a new audience for our brands, but because of what the PC market teaches a company.
The PC helps teach a company how to be a global and how to embrace emerging markets and business models. As we continue to expand our businesses in Russia, China, Korea and Brazil, the PC becomes increasingly important as it is the primary platform in those territories. In our recent investor relations presentations, we’ve mentioned that our online efforts are aimed squarely at South Korea and China, focused around the PC. We don’t get to be successful in that space without a better understanding of the PC market and what it means to operate services rather than shipping discrete products (and in the mid-long term, all platforms will be migrating to more service-based models than we have today).
Looking back a ways, we were the first non-Valve game to do a Steam integration. What is now known as Steamworks, was initiated as a project where Valve worked with Capcom to pull bits of their Half-Life libraries apart so that we could integrate them into Lost Planet 1 (which incidentally was also the first commercial DirectX10 game on the market). It was a very visionary step at that time, especially for a Japanese developer where the PC market historically has been rather muted.
However, our core technology for all of our platforms has been informed by and pushed by the PC, which is always at the bleeding edge. Engineering insights from Intel and Nvidia have assisted the MT Framework team, which in turn has helped us on nearly any/every platform, from high-end PC to X360/PS3 to and 3DS and smart phones.
Over the years, the producers have continued to learn lessons about the PC gaming market and how it differs from that which they know well on the console side of the house. Something that’s important to understand is that the PC gaming market in Japan is rather small historically so their personal experiences with PC gaming are often different from those of Western developers. On the plus side though, the online gaming scene in Japan is growing rapidly. Capcom develops and operates Monster Hunter Frontier which is one of the largest, if not the largest online PC game in Japan.
PC gaming’s profile is growing at Capcom. Both the US and our European teams continue to request PC SKUs for new titles. We’ve got more titles coming with PC versions than ever before (e.g. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City , Dead Rising 2: Off the Record , Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition , etc.). At green light meetings, our Japanese COO and the head of the consumer and online software business increasingly request a PC version if one is not being proposed at the outset of a project.
On the sales and marketing side of things, we’re building up better marketing experience around PC gaming worldwide and pulling in more and more partners to work with us in that space. As an example, we now manage more than 25 PC digital distribution partnerships around the world. We have strong relationships with various players in the hardware space and we actively participate in the PC Gaming Alliance .
So in short, while we’re still not yet where I’d like for us to be, the future is getting better for Capcom fans who are PC gamers all over the world.