Capcom reminds me of a big ol' blind dog. I love it, and I respect the long life it's lead, but it has a habit of inexplicably walking towards open manholes and staircases. No matter how many times you grab its head and say "No, no," no matter how many times you try to correct its path, it's determined to take that fall.
While people don't spit after saying Capcom's name like they do with Konami, Capcom hasn't sown a lot of goodwill since the start of the decade. The cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 was a big black mark against the company (not to mention its refusal to have anything to do with Rockman / Mega Man, period, aside from merchandising – hey Capcom, people like your stupid character, there's a WWE wrestler whose gimmick involves Mega Man 2 nostalgia), and many fighting game aficionados feel Street Fighter V hit the market half-finished.
Capcom's had some moments of redemption, like the critical success of Resident Evil 7. But the company hasn't invited too many positive comments following a recent interview with Japanese business publication Toyokeizai, wherein Capcom stated its support for the Nintendo Switch will depend at least partially on how well Ultra Street Fighter II does on the system.
Incidentally, our Mike reviewed Ultra Street Fighter II for the Switch the other day. His take: Capcom is asking a lot of money ($40 USD) for a game in a series that offers excellent compilations for a lot less. The Switch-exclusive feature, the motion control-based "Way of the Hado" mini-game, is a fun distraction for about half an hour, "but ultimately, it's the return of Wii Waggle."
In other words, I don't expect Ultra Street Fighter II will rack up sales numbers on par with Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It might do OK, especially since the Nintendo Switch appeals to a wide, diverse audience who might not have their fill of Street Fighter games yet (the interviewed CEO even states his daughter is interested in the Switch despite never showing much interest in game consoles).
NeoGAF points out that Capcom never mentions it's going to keep an eye on Ultra Street Fighter II's sales. Rather, it aims to "plan our support while looking at the situation [of the Switch]." But whichever way you slice it, Capcom is taking an odd stance on the Switch. This is an industry where "interest" and "sales" are inseparable; if Ultra Street Fighter II doesn't prove profitable on Nintendo's system, Capcom might decide it's not worth supporting.
Capcom's decision to base Switch support on the performance of a game that's not destined to sell gangbusters is a relatively pain-free way to bow out of developing for a system that's floundering on the market. Thing is, the Nintendo Switch is selling like crazy with no signs of slowing down. So what gives, Capcom?
It's understandable why Capcom wouldn't be interested in putting Resident Evil 7 on the Switch, but it's already taken a hard pass at putting The Disney Afternoon Collection on the system – and I can say with all confidence that The Switch and the Disney Afternoon Collection are a potential match made in video game heaven. Similar retro-themed titles would almost certainly do well on the Switch (maybe a new Mega Man X game, cough cough), but it appears Capcom's not gung-ho on the Switch, same as it's not all that interested in re-visiting the franchises that were a big deal during its heyday. I'm helpless to understand why.
Granted, Capcom admits in the interview that it lacks the resources necessary to revive old properties. That's valid, and the cultivation of new IPs is important (even though Capcom's not shy about riding Monster Hunter like a cheap nag). However, Capcom also states that it's not making money in the mobile sector, but it intends to keep chasing the market.
Talk is cheap, but from my angle, in-app purchases make money for a tiny percentage of developers and no-one else. The list of top-grossing free iOS apps in Japan features a lot of long-entrenched titles (Puzzle & Dragons, Clash of Clans, Mobile Strike) and titles based on popular properties (Pokémon GO, Dragon Ball Z, Fire Emblem, Disney). On the rare occasion a new title breaks into the Top 50, it usually doesn't stay there for long.
Capcom can try to chase after whales (ugh), but it's probably going to come back with an empty boat. The mobile game market certainly isn't dead, but it's stabilized: Super Mario Run's performance indicates only a very specific kind of mobile game can thrive (i.e. free-to-play games, especially ones oriented around a Gashapon system). Even indie developers, once the backbone of the mobile market, are now more likely to peddle their wares on digital distribution platforms for PC and consoles.
Maybe the resources Capcom intends to spend on mobile would be better suited for making games people want (revived 2D Capcom properties) on systems people like (the Nintendo Switch). Again, talk is cheap, but I know this much: Nobody wants half-baked iOS ports of Mega Man or Ghosts 'n Goblins we've been getting instead of well-constructed Nintendo Switch titles.
Between Capcom's fascination with giving us ill-made action games on mobile and games with Wii waggle, maybe we should send out a memo: "Dear Capcom. It's not 2008 anymore. Sincerely, Everyone.
"PS: Tacos are still amazing here in 2017, so really, you have nothing to lose by joining us."