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David Reeves vs. The World

Sony! Capcom! 3D! Brain chips!

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

A few years ago, the title of this article would have read Sony's David Reeves. He was with the company for 14 years, rising all the way to the top as head of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

In 2009 Reeves announced he was retiring. But just over a year later he was back at work, this time as boss of third-party publisher Capcom. So much for the old pipe and slippers.

With his brilliant metaphors and tendency towards actual honesty, Reeves has always been one of Eurogamer's favourite interviewees. So we caught up with him, accompanied by Friend of Eurogamer Leo Tan PR Man, to find out how he's settled into his new role and where he thinks Capcom fits in the ever-changing videogames landscape. Plus: brain chips, roulette and Street Fighter vs. Cheryl Cole.

Eurogamer It's been around six months since you started working for Capcom. What are the biggest differences compared to working at Sony?
David Reeves

The company has the same passion, it's totally focused. The difference is Sony was probably more bottom-up - we used to let the MDs in the various countries do their things.

Capcom is more of a family company. I don't want to say it's top-down because it's not - there's a lot of freedom. It's more to do with being a software publisher.

If you're only launching five titles in a year, you can't afford for more than one to go wrong. You're on the edge, from a financial point of view, so you've got to plan more carefully - building up the PR, not spending too much, making sure you've got enough in the market to satisfy demand but not so much you have to mark the product down.

Eurogamer You've recently enjoyed success with Dead Rising 2. Why do you think it's done so well in the West compared to some other Japanese titles?
David Reeves

It's well thought-out, has good gameplay, it's exciting. And Capcom has added something with the prologue, Case Zero, and Case West - they're both billable. Consumers have just flocked to it. We've kept that interest up constantly and that's the way to do it now.

Eurogamer Keiji Inafune recently announced his departure from the company. Seeing as he's been integral to so many of your biggest hits, how big of a blow is that?
David Reeves

Inafune did a fantastic job for Capcom. I think he just felt he wanted to move on and do his own thing and we wish him well.

Ichi-san, who was head of marketing and sales, has taken over R&D. They're big shoes to fill but he's very talented, fast and good at putting things together. I have great confidence in him, he will do an excellent job.

Eurogamer These days, games companies are always banging on about broadening the market and appealing to casual gamers. Capcom seems to be one of the last companies saying you're still going to cater for the hardcore. Don't you worry that you're missing out on this new audience and all their money?
David Reeves

The Germans say 'Jein', which is yes and no... If Capcom had a big enough R&D budget they might be tempted to look at that. But they've also looked at some of the other Japanese companies, be it Konami or Namco Bandai, who've gone into those areas and it's a total unknown.

You've got two risks - you ask someone who's working on zombie games to do a social game, or you ask an external studio you might not know to do it. I honestly don't think Capcom should take that risk.

The other thing is that when you look at some social games, people might buy it once but they don't continue. Look at Guitar Hero - there is a limit. Whearas with Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, even FIFA, it continues. So I don't think Capcom's going to move away from that DNA.

Eurogamer This Christmas marks the first time we're going to see motion controllers on all three platforms going head-to-head. How does Capcom feel about that, given you are going for the hardcore market and so many hardcore gamers are cynical about these controllers? Do you think the market can support all three?
David Reeves

I think it's the preamble to what might come in the next static consoles. I don't know when they will arrive. That different way of controlling a game, either with your hand and feet or your voice, or even maybe just your eyes...

Eurogamer Brain chips! I want brain chips.
David Reeves


Eurogamer Are you working on brain chips?
David Reeves

No. I've got a feeling that some people might be. I'll tell you about that later.

Eurogamer What, in 2015? No way! Tell us about the brain chips now! Do you know someone who, right now, is existing as an intelligent gas in a laboratory in space, making the world's first videogame brain chips so we can have games beamed into our eyes?
David Reeves

Did you say Spain? Not in Spain.

Eurogamer Space!
David Reeves

No. I do know that in Israel, they're working on that type of technology.

Eurogamer They're beaming games into people's eyes?
David Reeves

No... They're working on that type of technology but they're not doing it for Capcom. I think it's as an independent institute.

Eurogamer Digital Foundry's Richard Leadbetter, our blacksmith of the future, is based in Israel. Maybe he's working on brain chips to beam games into people's eyes! It's a good fit.
David Reeves

There you go. It might be the same person. Where were we? Oh yes, in terms of the motion controllers... Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition we put out as Move compatible, and it's really surprised us.

The number of orders our sales manager keeps bringing to us every day... 'David, we've got more for Resident Evil 5!' 'Why are you surprised, Andy?'

Eurogamer Why is Andy surprised? Cos he thinks Move is rubbish?
David Reeves

No, I think he was a bit surprised it's done so well. When you look at the line-up for Move it's a bit partyish; Resi Evil Gold is the best Move game out there and it's doing very well, it's a remarkable growth curve.

We had a Kinect session in the office the other day and it's great, the laughter was just amazing. All the people in the company really got into it.

So I think it will extend the life of the static consoles a little bit. But it will roll into - there's so much investment in those systems, they'll have to use it for the next static consoles as well. Or a modification. They'll learn a lot from this.