Recently, the sequel to the Mega Man Legends series: Mega Man Legends 3 was cancelled by Capcom, it’s developer, for “unspecified criteria”. And this has a set off a chain of events that has the put future of Mega Man, and Capcom in danger. The first Mega Man Legends was one of the very first video games I ever played, and the cancellation of it’s sequel really attaches me emotionally to this topic. Capcom is a multinational corporation with many resources at their disposal, yet their business practices as of late have caused resounding outcries of anger and confusion from people around the globe. While the situation involving Capcom compounds around the cancellation of Legends 3, it is not the only event in a long series of bad business practices.
In my essay I would first need to give a history of events that I feel are relevant. I can go into detail with each event and ascertain the public’s opinion, Capcom’s stance, and place it in a larger historical context as well.
Capcom has made some very questionable decisions in their recent history, some of these decisions include: They have no plans to localize Ace Investigations 2, the sequel to the spin-off title of the Ace Attorney series, one of the most successful Nintendo DS titles of all time and a fan favorite. They have been charging money for demo-versions of video games on DLC, such as the case for Dead Rising 2. They made it so you must be online to play Bionic Commando and Final Fight, the latter of which they apologized for not mentioning. In Resident Evil 3D, the player is prohibited from deleting their own save file, this means that to start at an earlier part, you must buy a new copy of the game. They have cancelled two Mega Man games: Mega Man Universe, and Mega Man Legends 3. This came in the wake of Mega Man’s creator, Keiji Inafune leaving Capcom for reasons that continue to sully the company’s image. And finally, they announced they were making Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 2, a slightly upgraded version of a game they released only a few months prior, which will retail for $40, basically meaning that people payed for a $60 (or $80 for the collector’s edition) demo.
The true topic of discussion in relating to Capcom’s bad business decisions is the leaving of Keiji Inafune, and the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3, hereafter referred to as Legends 3. The first game was a cult classic among fans, spawning a prequel and a sequel, that while not having the best sales, were considered technically and conceptually ahead of their time. It is also important to note that the Legends series was Inafune’s favorite, and he often said that if he had unlimited resources, it would be the game he would create. In the summer of 2010, Inafune was able to appeal to Capcom, and created a team to begin developing Legends 3, a few months later he left Capcom to start his own company called Comcept. Inafune went on record saying he was too tired to deal with Capcom any longer, saying that they no longer had much interest in new titles, deciding that 60-80% of all game’s made would be sequels to well-established series. Inafune had to use guerilla tactics to get games developed at times, such is the case with Dead Rising. Dead Rising was initially cancelled by Capcom in the early development stage, so Inafune continued developing it under the name Prototype. Eventually so many resources had be put into it that Capcom had no choice but release the game. It was a financial success, but such tactics give us a glimpse into what type of company Capcom is. After Inafune left Capcom, the first of his projects, Mega Man Universe was cancelled. And while many thought Legends 3 would go the same way, fans were reassured by the game’s development team, who stated the game would continue development, and they would start an interactive devroom, a blog where fans could read daily updates on the game’s development, as well as submit their own ideas and concept art which (if chosen) would become a part of the final game. It was truly unprecedented in it’s ambitiousness. It also served as a bridge between the community and the developers, a deep look into the process of creating a video game, and it went a long way in gaining fan support.
A few months into the new year, Japan faced a terrible disaster, yet it’s people continued to move forward, the devteam dedicated the game they were creating to the survivors of the disaster, to give them hope because it was something they could do in those times of darkness.
Shortly afterwards, the devteam announced that they were creating a Prototype version of the game that would retail for $2 on the Nintendo 3DS eshop on the day of its launch. The Prototype would feature many missions and be an enjoyable prequel to the final game. And then the devteam told fans that the sales of the Prototype would determine whether or not the final version of the game was greenlit by the higer ups. Many fans were confused by this, because there was no indication that the game wasn’t greenlit beforehand, and this is odd because the devroom has given a very in-depth look into the development process up until this point. Nevertheless the fans waited, ready to pay for the game to show their support. There was a delay, and then the entire project was cancelled by Capcom for “unspecified criteria”.
The aftermath of the cancellation has been incredibly fascinating and I will touch on it as much as I can in my essay. Fans around the world have united on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, the latter of which, a group called “100,000 Strong for Bringing Back Mega Man Legends 3” a peaceful activist group has nearly 50,000 Likes, with thousands more in their international branches, all of which have been amassed in a few short months. These groups have gained notable support from not only big names in video gaming, but Capcom employees and Keiji Inafune himself. I personally have contributed as much as I can to the cause, and this is notable on a personal level because for the first time, I truly understood what it meant to be part of something that you really care about, I got my first glimpse into what it would be like to have a career in a cause that you care for almost obsessively. It was, and is, a valuable insight.
Capcom continued their bad business practices even in the wake of the cancellation and amassing of fan outrage. Capcom of Europe Public Relations went on Twitter responding (quite sarcastically) to fans questions, and in more than one instance blaming fans for the cancellation. Saying “it’s a shame the fans didn’t want to get more involved 🙁 if we saw there was an audience for MML3 people might change minds”. The statements made regarding Capcom cancelling the project because they didn’t see enough support on the devroom flies in direct contradiction with a video they made earlier that stated that fans did not need to participate on the devroom for the game to be made, that they could “hang around in the back and watch,”
The fan movement continues to surge forward even today, with fans downloading bumper stickers, and putting up posters in their hometowns to spread awareness. Recently a game reviewer detailed his experience playing the Prototype version of Legends 3, he is possibly the only member of the general public to play the game. Many fans were afraid the game was cancelled because the game was just not fun to play, but this reviewer extinguished these fears in a detailed Q&A were he details his play experience as fun and true to the originals, as well as being a very complete experience with the game being nearly complete. And saying that even the small parts that were incomplete were saturated with love.
For references I have some options,
the North American devroom still remains even today, with all the developer’s posts over the past year intact.
This article is a Q&A with the only person to play the Legends 3 prototype.
I have also taken the liberty to save many images of the Tweets by Capcom of Europe. They all support my argument with their blatantly bad PR, their sarcastic tone that borders on insulting is not the way that a large company like Capcom should speak towards their fans.
The official Legends 3 Revival Facebook group.
I would also compare and contrast the business practices of companies like SEGA and Square Enix to Capcom’s.