Market Insight

Capcom's full-year results: Keeping key IP closer to home

May 08, 2013

Steve Bailey Steve Bailey Principal Senior Analyst, Games, IHS Markit
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Capcom has disclosed its results for fiscal year ending March 2013, seeing a slight year-on-year increase in revenues for its non-arcade games business at 63bn yen, but accompanied by underwhelming sales for some key game franchises. Operating income fell nearly 50% to 7bn yen, to which it attributes increased costs of sales, and operating expenses plus the effects of internal restructuring.

On the console front, Resident Evil 6 fell short of sales expectations, while Dragon's Dogma exceeded; the latest Monster Hunter title, released for both Wii U and 3DS, has also been a success for the company. Company restructuring included a shift in content focus (a prioritisation of DLC, and internally developed games) and the cancellation of some in-progress titles.

Capcom's initiative to work with more major game development partners in the west is now several years old, and has been somewhat fractured. It has resulted in some high-profile failures (such as the Bionic Commando reboot), but also led to the acquisition of Canada's Blue Castle Games. The competent sales of DmC: Devil May Cry is a success in this regard, having been co-developed in conjunction with British studio Ninja Theory, and proving that international content-creation partnerships can still be well-received.  Lost Planet 3, developed by a western studio and due for release during Q3, will likely deliver a decisive nail to the coffin if it fails to perform.

Several major Japanese publishers have made investments into the west in the past five years, looking to expand presence through studios that are potentially more attuned with the needs of the market, but the synergy remains a fragile enterprise in console gaming.

The company continues to seek opportunity across non-Japanese Asia, too, setting up local offices in Taiwan and Thailand. This is where Capcom's solid-performing online game, Monster Hunter Online, will have opportunity to find greater audience, atop its partnership with Tencent in China.

Capcom's cancellation of several unannounced titles, many scheduled for fiscal year ending March 2015, highlights the difficulties facing large publishers that have to roadmap major new content launches within such a restless landscape. The next-generation of home consoles is looming, and brings ever-more complex feature sets and expectations that further add costs for major publishers, while opportunity fragments across myriad devices and country markets. This is why it's no surprise to hear Capcom speak of increasing its focus on DLC pipelines for key titles, as this can provide a relatively stable outlet for its development efforts: it adds incremental value, extends user life-cycle, and is quick to provide feedback on player fatigue in the product-oriented game space, without recourse to a full-blown sequel.

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