Friday, May 25, 2012

Capcom’s Move to More Frequent Releases Could Overwhelm and Underwhelm

Capcom CEO Kenzo Tsujimoto recently released a statement calling for his company to reduce the development time for games in the Japanese publisher’s key franchises to two and a half years. According to Mr. Tsujimoto this will allow the company to turn out major releases more regularly.

While having games delivered faster sounds appealing at first, it could also lead to Capcom over-saturating the market with its games. Game releases in a particular series can lose their specialness when too many are released close together. Hype is important when it comes to marketing videogames. A game’s announcement should generate excitement and this is killed when new entries in the series become routine and regularly expected. Individual games in a series begin to blend together and gamers burn out and lose interest.
The consequences of this have been shown in other companies. Activision’s strategy of annual releases for a number of its properties practically killed its Guitar Hero franchise. Pumping out too many games also lead to the Tony Hawk series being shelved and while Activision’s Call of Duty games remain huge sellers, many would argue they’ve become stagnant through their yearly entries. This is in stark contrast to series that have achieved success through spacing out their releases. The announcement of a new Elder Scrolls game for instance is treated as a momentous event. It’s unsurprising that Skyrim sold millions of copies after the huge buzz generated by its announcement.
Another problem with frequent releases is the predicament it places on fans, who must remain diligent to avoid falling behind on their favorite series. With so many great games to play with limited time and budget, keeping up with frequent releases can be overwhelming. This happened to me with the Assassin’s Creed series. Before I could even get around to purchasing Assassin’s Creed 2, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood was announced and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations followed soon after that.  

Whether Capcom can handle shortend development times responsibly is questionable. The company is well known for releasing enhanced editions of its games for quick and easy profits.These have already drawn the ire of many among the companies fan base and potentially rushing major releases won't help this.

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