- Capcom’s resurgence in 2018 with Monster Hunter World has brought back one of the greatest developers in the industry.
- In the late 2000s and early 2010s, the company would make some questionable business decisions that led to mediocre game releases and added to the cannibalization of the fighting game genre.
- Resident Evil 6, despite its mixed reception, managed to sell over five million copies. It has the potential to be one of the most ambitious remakes ever.
When players hear the name Capcom, they immediately think of Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Devil May Cry, Mega Man, and the list goes on. After all, it’s not just the big names that have contributed to its success. Games like Dino Crisis also found a community of loyal fans who now wish for its revival. The sentiment comes from Capcom’s recent streak of success on the frontlines of video game remakes among other achievements.
It takes zero effort to list a plethora of problems with modern gaming, some of which Capcom itself is guilty of in my opinion. However, when you review the recent track record of these big-name corporations and Capcom itself, the latter undoubtedly comes out in the top spots. Why exactly am I giving this company a fair amount of credit despite some of its questionable decisions? First, let’s review Capcom pre-2013.
The 2000s And Capcom’s Peak
In the late nineties, Capcom saw the launch of Resident Evil, a series that would go on to become one of its flagship franchises. Uptil until the late 2000s, Capcom would continue to release various titles that would further solidify its status in the landscape of gaming. Some of its crowning achievements from that decade include the near-legendary game, Resident Evil 4 along with the Devil May Cry and Monster Hunter franchises.
In fact, Resident Evil 4 is perhaps arguably the single greatest achievement of Capcom aside from its resurgence in modern times. The game began development in 1999 and Capcom invested a lot of creative power into it. Several versions of the game were proposed which were ultimately discarded. But this would prove to be a blessing as it led to the creation of the first Devil May Cry.
Launched in 2001, Devil May Cry went on to win critical and commercial success and spawned an entire line of games. There was also the controversial reboot developed by Ninja Theory in the early 2010s which had its own charm but proved to be quite divisive. This was the start of Capcom’s rise and throughout these years, Capcom would come to be known among the players as “CapGod,” and rightfully so.
In 2005, Resident Evil 4 graced the world of gaming and changed the entire landscape of third-person shooters. It introduced us to two new elements, the precision aiming system and the over-the-shoulder camera view. This was combined with a special flavor of atmosphere, a top-of-the-line story, excellent voice acting, and visuals that were ahead of their time. All this came together to make it one of the greatest games of all time.
Resident Evil 4 has aged like fine wine and still holds up well to this day. Having been released on almost every console in existence since 2005, it’s definitely made a lot of headlines over the years. I love the fourth entry and I’m sure many feel the same way but it’s far from being the only gem from that time period. Capcom also released another banger that often gets overshadowed by other titles—Resident Evil – Code: Veronica.
While all these labels are worth praising, Capcom is also known best for the legacy fighting game franchise, Street Fighter. While the series itself goes all the way back to the late 80s, it was focused on heavily throughout the 90s. In 2008, Street Fighter IV hit the shelves and it was a huge deal. 2009 would see the release of Resident Evil 5, which had its share of highs and lows but was a fairly resounding success overall.
This was when things had begun to take a turn for the worse and started a streak of underwhelming games that would last approximately a decade. It’s perfectly fine and possible to enjoy bad or bland games but it’s wrong to overlook flaws or a lack of finesse in an attempt to defend a game that’s your guilty pleasure.
Dawn of Crapcom, Mismanagement, & Inafune’s Views
It was seemingly the dawn of a new age at Capcom around the release of Street Fighter IV and Resident Evil 5. At the time, Keiji Inafune climbed up to a pretty high spot on the corporate ladder and had been at the company for a long time. Inafune expressed some highly doom and gloom views regarding the scene of game development in Japan.
In 2009, while promoting Dead Rising 2, Inafune made some strikingly negative comments. Speaking through his translator, he stated, “Personally when I looked around [at] all the different games at the TGS floor, I said ‘Man, Japan is over. We’re done. Our game industry is finished.‘” Honestly, calling this a reach would be an understatement, especially when you consider what followed in the years to come.
No doubt, Capcom continually dropped the ball between 2010-2017 minus some of its fair achievements. However, dunking on the broader Japanese game industry was objectively an exaggeration. At this time, Keiji Inafune began outsourcing projects to development studios with lesser notoriety in the Western parts of the world rather than having them developed in-house. This was due to his pessimistic beliefs.
During this time period, we got games like 2009’s Bionic Commando, Lost Planet 2 and 3, Remember Me, etc. None of these titles performed as well as Capcom expected them to. Failing to meet sales expectations combined with receiving mixed reviews contributed to the company’s rapidly growing negative reputation. Inafune left Capcom in 2010 and started his own company called Comcept which was eventually bought by Level-5.
The irony of Inafune’s comments on the state of the Japanese gaming industry can be observed in his own projects after the founding of Comcept. Examples such as Mighty No. 9, Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, and his Kickstarter that failed to reach its funding goal shine way too bright with irony that one just can’t miss it.
However, this was not the only place where Capcom messed up within this time frame, nor was it the only reason why it earned the moniker of “Crapcom.”
Capcom And The Cannibalization of Fighting Games
On the side of fighting games, Capcom was cooking up a recipe for disaster. With the release of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition in 2010, the company would go on to essentially cannibalize the entire space of fighting games. This began in full swing with the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. But, one factor that we must take into account first is the 2011’s Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
The natural disaster in 2011 severely shook the foundation of Japan. Multiple facets of the country were impacted and attempts were made to ensure relief and recovery operations were promptly carried out. The development of DLC for Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was one of the projects impacted by the events. This led to the company announcing a standalone version of it merely a few months after the original release.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 would hit the shelves in November 2011 just nine months after the original game. Just a few months prior to its release, Capcom also launched Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition on PSN and Xbox Live Arcade. A physical version of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition was also released for consoles in June 2011. So we’re at the count of four fighting games within a year.
But that’s not where it ends. In March of 2012, we saw the release of Street Fighter X Tekken. It was received positively on launch with critics praising its gameplay systems and the incorporation of Tekken characters within the 2.5D framework. However, the game failed to meet Capcom’s sales expectations as they were 40% short. SFXT sold over a million copies in its first month but Capcom expected a figure of two million.
The reason that Capcom cited for low sales of Street Fighter X Tekken was the cannibalization of the genre. Something that Capcom itself had heavily contributed to. Drawn by the success of SFIV, competitors within the space released their own entries which further exacerbated the problem. What needs to be understood is that this isn’t where it all came to a halt.
After the ambitious crossover, the company went on to launch Marvel vs. Capcom Origins in September 2012 followed by Darkstalkers Resurrection in March 2013. So now we are at the count of 7 fighting games in the span of approximately two years and that’s just from Capcom alone. Add to this list the names of competitor titles like Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Persona 4 Arena, and Soul Calibur V and you can see what I mean.
YouTuber Maximillian Dood, an avid Capcom and fighting game fan, recently made a great video talking about the same topic and how Capcom has been on track for almost half a decade now. It really hits home the fact that one of the greatest developers of the early days is now in form once more.
The Resident Evil 6 Arc
While all of this was going on over at the fighting games department, Capcom was busy putting out Resident Evil games that would go on to be the most questionable and divisive titles in the franchise to date. In 2012, Capcom released three entries under the Resident Evil name—Operation Raccoon City, Revelations, and the sixth mainline title. These games were definitely something unique and in many ways, they took a very different path.
At this point in time, Resident Evil was struggling to come to terms with its roots and evolve for a new generation. Operation Raccoon City was panned by critics and received mixed reviews. It was developed by Slant Six, a studio based in Canada that was known for SOCOM titles. I remember spending a couple of weeks playing ORC despite it being a far cry from what Resident Evil is all about. It was a commercial success for a reason.
Prior to ORC, Capcom released Revelations for the Nintendo 3DS in January 2012. Developed by TOSE, Revelations would go on to earn positive reception with critics praising the survival horror elements, gameplay, and overall aesthetic. I didn’t get my hands on Revelations until it was out for PC but I have to say, Capcom was on to something with that game. It was a really good Resident Evil entry even if the first act was annoying.
And then in October of the same year, we got what was perhaps the single most divisive entry in the series—Resident Evil 6. I spent a little over 60 hours with Resident Evil 6 back in the day and even revisited it earlier this year. I like to think it’s a game that’s severely misunderstood but I can’t deny that it was flawed. Won’t say I was thrilled by it but it wasn’t quite a disappointment either. Quick-time events were definitely disruptive though.
The gameplay was not really an achievement. Despite adding all these new movement features and melee systems, Resident Evil 6 felt surprisingly clunky to me. I saw zero use for getting down on my back and severely restricting my mobility as I shoot a horde of zombies. The skill point system was just bad and at the end of the day, Resident Evil 6 radiated this energy of Capcom trying to jump on a bandwagon of some kind.
In my honest opinion, Resident Evil 6 is a decent action game but as a Resident Evil, it’s just bad. I’ve always said that it’s okay to enjoy bad games but you can’t deny the facts. If Capcom ever decides to remake Resident Evil 6, in more ways than one, it’ll be a challenge far greater than remaking Resident Evil 4. It’s thrilling to think about what these guys can do with it taking the recent remakes and other games into consideration.
Despite all the mixed feelings many had for it, Resident Evil 6 still sold over five million copies. Suffering from development challenges and other factors really impacted its direction and overall potential.
Resident Evil 7, The Big Red Button & Capcom’s Resurgence
After the Resident Evil 6 arc, Capcom would go on to release some more mediocrity under the banner of Resident Evil. The products of this were games like Umbrella Corps and Revelations 2. In my personal opinion, Revelations 2 was a fair game and I had a good enough time playing to even revisit it last year. Nevertheless, it didn’t really hit the mark.
Now somewhere during this time, Capcom would develop a new proprietary engine that would honestly change everything. Reach for the Moon aka RE Engine came into existence and work began on Resident Evil 7. Directed by Koshi Nakanishi, the same person who led the Revelations project, Resident Evil 7 returned to the roots of the series in a fresh, first-person fashion.
I’m not big on technicalities but RE Engine’s overall fidelity and technical achievements can’t be downplayed. Resident Evil 7 would go on to prove this by bringing a brand new but somehow familiar aesthetic of the series while going all in with survival horror. I’ve previously said how I’m not a fan of first-person games and there are only a select few titles that were able to draw me in. RE7 was one of them.
Despite being a fairly resounding success for Capcom and the series as a whole, later in 2017, the company dropped the ball with Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. It had its own fair share of issues but I’m not getting into that. Enter 2018, we were graced with what can be considered Capcom’s “big red button“—Monster Hunter World, and my god, it was a fantastic experience.
Getting a full-fledged Monster Hunter game on home consoles after years that lived up to the hype and retained the core of the series was a welcomed surprise. It went on to become Capcom’s highest-selling game surpassing 21 million units by 2022. Even though we got Monster Hunter Rise and it sold exceptionally well, I still play World to this day simply because of how freeing it is.
This would mark the resurgence of Capcom as in the coming years, we got major victories like Devil May Cry 5, the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3. Street Fighter 6 was announced and Resident Evil 4 lived up to the original’s legacy. Resident Evil Village was a huge success too. I’m aware of the issues that RE3 had and it was definitely a fumble. Nevertheless, it wasn’t exactly a bad game at its core, just a victim of some bad decisions, I guess.
Reclaiming The Capgod Status
Life is all about highs and lows and you can’t really expect to have one without the other. Capcom’s resurgence is proof that there’s always some benefit in doing what the people want. Even new IPs developed with confidence and a focus on quality gameplay experiences, and given enough time in the oven will attract a sizeable audience. I’m personally really looking forward to playing Exoprimal and Pragmata whenever they come out.
The modern state of the gaming industry is kind of disappointing. While it’s not entirely a doom and gloom situation, it’s definitely seen better days. No matter where you look, most of the things you find are subpar ports, unhinged microtransactions, mediocre remakes, uninspired AAA IPs that often fall flat for various reasons, cancellations, and a growing obsession with NFTs.
Some examples include Square Enix‘s stance on NFTs in gaming despite the backlash from fans on every single reveal of Symbiogenesis. Forspoken was another addition in 2023 which, despite attaining some sales, failed to meet expectations and resulted in the shutdown of Luminous Studios. Respawn Entertainment‘s Star Wars Jedi: Survivor ended up being another addition to the list of bad PC ports and let’s not forget Redfall.
Looking at it all now, it feels great seeing Capcom regaining its Capgod status and delivering quality experiences along with some of these other great studios. We Capcom fans are finally eating well again.
Thanks! Do share your feedback with us. ⚡
How could we improve this post? Please Help us. ✍