Capcom's annual report is out, and one of the big ideas for the future is to shorten development cycles and pump out sequels more often.
Capcom president and COO Haruhiro Tsujimoto put it best:
"We launch sales of popular series titles held by thecCompany approximately every 2.5 years. This is because the development of a single major title usually requires 3-4 years.
"In the event that there are few hits, it will be difficult to create a series title every year and earnings will be adversely impacted. For this reason, it is important either to maintain a large number of popular titles or shorten the sales cycle to ensure stable earnings.
"Among the multitude of major titles held by Capcom - such as Monster Hunter, Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Lost Planet, Dead Rising and many others - we will promote shortening of the sales cycle in pursuit of further earnings stabilisation and growth."
Specifically, he went on, teams developing "major titles" will be "limited" to 100 people, "with multiple sequel titles developed at the same time".
It will be "necessary to create a large-scale development structure for shortening the development process", so Capcom will "strengthen" in-house development by hiring an additional 1000 staff over 10 years, most of which will be graduates.
"In addition, we will increase the number of titles released in a single year and expand earnings using a hybrid development model whereby the core portions of the project are developed in-house by Capcom and the process-work is outsourced to outside development companies," he wrote.
Capcom's proprietary MT Framework engine will play a key role in all this. Apparently, 80 per cent of the development process using MT Framework is common across PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, which "significantly reduces costs and shortens time to completion to one-third of the traditional time required for development". And now, MT Framework is compatible with 3DS, Wii and iPhone development.
In addition to there being less time between games, Capcom wants to keep you involved with a series by beefing up DLC. This will ensure that "users will be captive fans until the release of a sequel, as we acquire revenue from the sales of additional items to maximise profits".
Tsujimoto also wrote that, "All major titles will be put online and made available for download." And added: "By introducing a system that enables users to play one another across the globe, and by continually introducing additional downloadable content (DLC), user playing time will increase, and we can acquire new users who cross over from package users while receiving addition revenue in the form of additional item purchases."
"Although Nintendo will release the new game console Wii U and the market will be continue to be invigorated by the increase of DLC, time is required before the next generation console cycle begins in earnest."
Capcom had a couple of passing comments to make about next-generation gaming.
Kenzo Tsujimoto, chairman and CEO, noted: "Furthermore, we must invest in our developers to strengthen foundational research in next-generation consoles."
Hahruhiro Tsujimoto added: "We will create new popular next generation franchise, allocating 20 per cent of development investment to new products through efficient development."
"As for the outlook for the next fiscal year," Capcom went on, "although Nintendo will release the new game console Wii U and the market will be continue to be invigorated by the increase of DLC, time is required before the next generation console cycle begins in earnest."
For Capcom, all eyes will be on Resident Evil 6, which has been worked on by 600 people, and is expected to sell 7 million units. Capcom's even opening a Resident Evil restaurant, as well as releasing a Resident Evil: Retribution film and Resident Evil: Damnation animation. "Also," the company added, "we will continue to try new ideas, including a tie-up with a real escape game." OK then.
That's the home console video game market. Capcom's other business boosting ideas are to expand in the PC online space through browser games and things like Monster Hunter Frontier Online.
Mobile and social gaming is a huge new frontier for Capcom, too - as it is for most Japanese and Western companies.
Capcom's forecast for the year ahead:
- Resident Evil 6 7 million units
- DmC Devil May Cry 2 million units
- Dragon's Dogma 1.5 million units
- Lost Planet 3 1.4 million units
Capcom's best franchises
- Resident Evil - 73 games - 49 million sales
- Street Fighter - 73 games - 33 million sales
- Mega Man - 129 games - 29 million sales
- Monster Hunter - 21 games - 21 million sales
- Devil May Cry - 15 games - 10 million sales
- Dead Rising - 11 games - 5.3 million sales
- Lost Planet - 13 games - 4.8 million sales
- Ace Attorney 16 games - 4.3 million sales
- Sengoku BASARA - 21 games - 3.1 million sales