Capcom to Beef Up Online, DLC Development

Capcom’s recently released Overview of Strategies and Plans for the 2014 fiscal year reveals that the company is keen on making more revenue off of online games and downloadable content. Key points include a desire to “sell social games for many types of platforms” and “add more titles that are sold exclusively as downloads like ‘Dungeons and Dragons‘” (which I am personally very excited for).

To this end, Capcom will be releasing titles such as Monster Hunter Online in China, as well as browser games like Onimusha Soul in Taiwan to better reach the global market. There are also plans in place to promote their Beeline mobile brand more heavily by opening a fourth studio in Thailand.

Amongst all of Capcom’s plans and projections for the fiscal year, this makes the most sense. I’ve been playing mobile and online games almost exclusively these past few weeks, due solely to how quick, simple, and cheap they are. I also download way too many games off of the Xbox Live Arcade due to how cheap they seem compared to full retail games, and I love DLC extensions to my favorite titles. I know I’m not unique in either of these respects, either. So long as Capcom can focus on producing quality mobile, online,  and downloadable content, they might be able to keep a toehold in the market when everything shifts with the new console launches this Fall.

Of course, Capcom still has Monster Hunter 4 up its sleeve for the Japanese market, with expected total sales of 2.8 million units from its Fall/Winter release up to the end of the fiscal year.

Monster Hunter Online Announced

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_2yGexcNM4]

I post a lot about Monster Hunter here on the bulletin, largely because it’s a fairly unique series and serves as a really interesting study. Look at the community behind Monster Hunter, as well as the development choices made with each game, and you’ll find experiences and trends that defy pretty much everything we expect from games designed in the last 10 years. It’s almost like looking at how an alien would design and enjoy his/her/its games. Fascinating stuff.

Take, for example, the announcement of Monster Hunter Online, via EP Daily. While not the first Monster Hunter game for the PC, Online is noteworthy for a number of reasons. First, it’s using Crytek’s CryENGINE3, seen most recently in Far Cry 3 and Crysis 3. This marks the first time Capcom has licensed the engine for one of its titles. Secondly, it’s being developed in China by Tencent Games. This is the first time a Monster Hunter game has been developed outside of Japan, which is a huge deal if you consider how distinctly Japanese the games look and feel. Finally, the trailer features a solid mix of old, familiar Monster Hunter tropes, alongside some new hinted play mechanics, such as jet ski battles and destructible arena floors. While each game adds a new gimmick to keep things fresh, these proposed changes look to really mess with some of the series’ conventions.

No release date has been announced, and there’s no word on whether or not Monster Hunter Online will be available worldwide. Hopefully, the relative success of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate in North America will prompt Capcom to consider other regions for release.

Platinum Games’ Tatsuya Minami on Company’s Future

Matt Leone posted a pretty interesting feature today over at Polygon that delves into the history of Platinum Games president Tatsuya Minami, as well as his expectations for the company’s future.

Originally a driving force behind many of Capcom’s biggest brands, Minami left the company to join with other former Capcom employees in what would eventually become Platinum Games. To date, they’ve released some of the most over the top, daring, and downright weird games of this console generation.

In the article, Minami outines the issues that his studio faces, including problems with overall sales and finding new opportunities for his team:

Minami says the biggest challenge running Platinum is finding new work for the team.

Asked to rate Platinum’s progress over the past five years, he gives the developers at the studio an A. “The team has been working really hard,” he says. “They’ve held up their end of the bargain and done a really good job of putting out really high-quality games.”

On the business side, he’s less enthusiastic. “Whether we’ve sold as well as we would have liked, or whether the company has the amount of money that everybody would love to have in the company, I think I’d probably rate it as a C or even a D.

What strikes me as amazing here is that what Minami wants to do isn’t anything we haven’t heard before. From EA to Activision, big publishers are always talking about their multiplatform strategies and global market plans. Maybe it’s the candidness and honesty behind his words, but his approach to his company’s problems seems a bit more genuine than we’re used to. Other studios say that their games underperformed; Minami praises his team for putting out high-quality games, regardless of sales.

It’s hard not to like the guy, and even harder not to root for him and his team.

Capcom Opens Monster Hunter Community College

Monster Hunter Community College

Monster Hunter is hard to get into. Capcom is excellent at managing its community. Put these two things together and you get the Monster Hunter Community College, a way for San Fransisco Bay Area hunters to learn how to play the game and meet up with each other.

Details come from the Capcom Unity blog. On April 20th, at the home office in San Mateo, Capcom U.S.A. will welcome hunters for raffles, giveaways, early DLC downloads, and classes designed for beginner and intermediate players. Though signing up is free to anyone with a Capcom Unity account, spots are limited, so hopeful hunters are encouraged to sign up early.

Though the company has pushed Monster Hunter before, creating a community event at the U.S.A. home office is a great move to get people interested in the game and help players who aren’t accustomed to hardcore MonHun battles a leg up. Other developers could learn a thing or two about directly interacting with their fanbases by following Capcom’s example.

Peer Review: Giant Bomb’s Patrick Klepek Takes On Monster Hunter

I’ve been trying to sum up my feelings about Capcom’s Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate since it launched about two weeks ago. As a newcomer who really, really wanted to love the series many times in the past, I had a hard time cracking the nut and finding the meat of the experience. This time, I decided to give it the old college try, and armed myself with as much information I could. About 50 hours later, I’m still hooked.

As I was browsing the net while idling piecing together what I would say about the Monster Hunter phenomenon, I came across Patrick Klepek’s Giant Bomb article detailing his new interest in Monster Hunter, and realized that he had said pretty much what I had set out to.

While Klepek isn’t extremely far into the game, his narrative description of a fight with the Qurupeco is indicative of what’s so special about the series. It’s the thrill of taking on giant monsters, hunting them for an hour, and then dropping them in the nick of time that gives these games their unique edge. The first time you sever a monster’s tail — not through a scripted event, but because you targeted the damned thing manually and hacked at it until it fell off — it’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment. I can guarantee you won’t forget felling your first real dragon, either. Maybe the eighth or ninth time you farm it for materials to build armor out of its scaly hide may slip into faded memory, but not the first.

If you’re going to attempt to get into the series — and since there’s a demo on the 3DS, you really should — follow Klepek’s advice and spring for the Monster Hunter Beginner’s Guide. As an e-book, it does a great job of telling new players exactly what they need to know to start sinking their teeth into a meaty experience covered in so much impenetrable bone that it’s hard to believe sometimes that there’s any nutritional value hidden away. I picked it up on sale last month, and it’s been invaluable in teaching me how to get started with my hunting career.

While it has some infuriating underwater sequences, doesn’t look amazing on the WiiU, and pretty much requires a Circle Pad Pro attachment to play properly on the 3DS, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is the most accessible game in the series to date, and the perfect place for newcomers to jump in.