Capcom has been an industry staple for as long as many gamers can remember. Popularising entire genres of games. Such as fighting games with Street Fighter, and survival horror with Resident Evil. They have a vast amount of successful and beloved game series, making it hard to imagine the gaming industry today without them. But, if we cast our minds back only a couple of years to the beginning of the generation, Capcom was at an all-time low. Their games were not meeting the same quality standard people had come to expect from them. Some of these games were also criticized for unfair monetization tactics. Yet when all was thought lost, the Capcom of old has finally returned. Since 2017, Capcom has released some of the most critically and commercially successful games in its history. It might have just been the comeback of the generation.
A fallen icon…
Near the beginning of the current generation, it wouldn’t have been surprising to imagine Capcom stepping away from traditional game releases. They received backlash over poorly made games. Resident Evil 6, in particular, was a low point for the storied series. Most fans considered it to be a game that went against every principle the franchise was known for. It’s poor critical reception backed this up. Street Fighter 5 was criticized for its barebones content at launch and beyond that Marvel vs Capcom Infinite was faulted for its small roaster and disappointing graphics. The underwhelming quality of these games was a blow to the fans of each of these series, leading many to think Capcom just couldn’t make great games like they used to. At the same time, famous Capcom franchises such as Devil May Cry and Mega Man were being left dormant.
To make matters worse, the games Capcom did release fell prey to some poorly implemented DLC. For example, Street Fighter X Tekken was found to have its DLC characters already on the disc. Players were bound to be annoyed at thought of paying for characters they knew were already in the game. After failures like these, Capcom became aware that they were on a bad path. They blamed their decline in quality releases on excessive outsourcing. Though they didn’t name specific developers, it can be assumed they were referring to games like Ninja Theory’s DmC: Devil May Cry, Capcom Vancouver’s Dead Rising 4, and Slant Six Game’s Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. It’s debatable whether this was the only cause of their decline. But regardless, it meant that Capcom had to make a change.
Don’t call it a comeback…
Inevitably, Capcom had to acknowledge the lumps they were taking. They began to refocus on what made them successful in the first place. Making straightforward games that play to their strengths, whilst listening to what their fans wanted. This marked a profound change in Capcom’s game development for the better, beginning with the success of Resident Evil 7. RE7 is one of the best-reviewed Resident Evil entries since the classic Resident Evil 4, and amongst the best-selling titles in the main franchise. Giving the fans exactly what they wanted was the key to achieving this success. A return to the pure survival horror roots of Resident Evil. By staying true to what makes each of their games great, Capcom showed that they still know how to create a great installment in one of their most beloved IP.
They then went on to prove this multiple times over, with some of the most consistently high-quality releases of the generation. Monster Hunter: World is considered the best game in its series and has since become Capcom’s highest-selling game ever. Once again, Capcom steered clear of unwanted monetization and focused on delivering a great experience. Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto stated that “the presence of in-game gambling would be disruptive to the flow of the game”.
The sublime Resident Evil 2 remake earlier this year was also a hit, being nominated for multiple game of the year awards. Devil May Cry 5 proved there was still life in the demon-hunting series and character-based action games at large. Most recently, the Iceborne expansion for Monster Hunter: World gave players a huge amount of new worthwhile content. By any stretch of the imagination, Capcom has been on a roll these last few years.
Can it get even better?
Capcom is acutely aware of what their fans want. Perhaps now more than ever. Capcom’s own Stuart Turner mentioned that good reviews are now just as important to the company as sales figures. “We’d prefer a game that got a 9 and sold less, than got a 6 but sold more,” said Turner. He also explained that DMC5 was a project borne out of listening to what fans desired. Capcom’s actions demonstrated this. By giving long-time director Hideaki Itsuno the freedom to work on DMC5 as he saw fit, Capcom prioritized the quality of the game. If this trend can hold, we’ll be in for more great games to come. In the immediate future, we already know of the upcoming Resident Evil 3 remake. Based on the glowing reception for RE2 earlier this year, this could be among the best games of 2020.
Keeping the Resident Evil train rolling, the eventual Resident Evil 8 is likely to be in very good hands now, in time for a release on next-generation consoles. Beyond the Resident Evil series, we can also assume that the follow up to Monster Hunter: World is in development. The success of Mega Man 11 could open the doors for future installments of the blue icon. And while no official confirmation has happened yet, it’s likely that Street Fighter 6 is also in the works. In light of their recent financial successes, hopefully, it will be a return to form and to the Xbox platform after the issues of Street Fighter 5. Whatever Capcom decides to make next, we can now rest assured that quality is at the forefront of their game development. It’s good to have them back.