Capcom USA On Why Japan Doesn’t Believe Mega Man Is Popular In America

By Ishaan . May 3, 2011 . 1:32pm

When we recently spoke to Capcom community manager, Seth Killian, he revealed to us that, surprisingly, Capcom’s Japanese division doesn’t believe Mega Man is popular in America.

“There is also sort of this weird issue in Japan where a lot of Japanese developers, at least internal in Capcom, sort of don’t believe Mega Man is popular in the U.S.,” Killian told us at the time.


A message board thread regarding this same subject was opened by a user on Capcom’s community forums  last week, asking if anyone at Capcom could provide insight as to the reason behind Capcom Japan’s line of thinking. Capcom USA VP, Christian Svensson, was the first to reply:


“Relative to Japan, North American sales of MM titles is historically lower (though MM9 and MM10 were significantly higher in NA than Japan). Another complicating factor is the fact that the demographic for MM there is much younger than it is here. My suspicion is that it’s due to the fact that for years, MM in Japan has been promoted in the weekly Kuro comics magazine, which is younger skewing and the Battle Network/Starforce series was also aimed as a much younger demo than Classic, X or Zero franchises, so we tend to get some mismatches across the brand.


We know it’s a popular brand in NA, but perspective is all relative.”


A little while later, Killian, too, chimed in with his own thoughts, since the original quote cited in our report was from him.


“It was my quote so I should try and provide a little background…


As Sven mentioned, MM sales in Japan are typically higher, so there’s that.


Beyond sales however, it’s largely a cultural impression issue. I think most CJ staff view MM as a fairly "Japanese" character (as opposed to, say, Frank West). I think Americans often assume that because something is popular in America, everyone else probably likes it too. In Japan, it’s usually the opposite — the more "Japanese" something might be, the less they would expect it to be popular elsewhere.


It’s less to do with any reality and more to do with "this is a very Japanese thing, therefore foreigners won’t be as interested in it."  That’s true for some Japanese things (*cough* natto *cough*), but not true for other things, like the Blue Bomber.  It’s easy for everyone to love a cute, tenacious, and pure-hearted hero with such fun enemies.  Although just to make it even more complicated, MM is much less popular in Europe than he is in N. America. Of course Europe is just wrong about this [smiley], but different strokes for different folks…”


It makes sense that Mega Man isn’t as popular in Europe as he is in the U.S. Like a lot of other revered videogame characters, Mega Man got his start on the Nintendo Entertainment System in the 1980s. At the time, Nintendo didn’t have their own European subsidiary, and the NES didn’t reach the same level of popularity in Europe as it did in the U.S. or Japan.

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  • malek86

    “In Japan, it’s usually the opposite — the more Japanese something might be, the less they would expect it to be popular elsewhere.”

    That would explain why every japanese company suddenly felt the need to make “western-aimed games” instead of bringing over their usual stuff. Essentially, it’s their own fault.

    • It’s annoying to think that we can’t get games like Mega Man Legends 3 on PS3 just because of a simple misunderstanding.
      Instead we got Lost Planet, which was basically Mega Man’s replacement on consoles.

      • Megaman Legends 3 on 3DS is not because of a misunderstanding. :P
        It’s the same reason why we have Kingdom Hearts on the 3DS. It’s a “let’s see what this system can provide our games” sort of thing. If MML3 were to be on the PS3, given that it retains its graphical design, it’s a PSN game at best.

        • We want a HD ML3 .. it doesn’t matter if its on PS3, X360 or the new HD Nintendo Console..

      • The higher-ups at Capcom have enough of an issue with a budget-controlled Legends 3 on 3DS, owing to the performance of the previous games. I guarantee you, there is no chance on Earth of the game ever being greenlit on PS3, much less any of the devroom stuff they’re doing now.

        Honestly, you PS3 guys really need to knock this nonsense off at some point…

        • Testsubject909

          They just really wanted to see it on a home console is what I think.

          Can’t blame them. I’d love to see Legends 3 on a home console.

          • Isn’t the biggest hurdle for Legends 3 to consoles is the lack of demand there? I mean, last I checked, it’s usually FPS and other mainstream games are getting all the sales in the PS360 combined.

            It doesn’t help the fact once a game gets buried by another game, let alone another genre/franchise, it’s considered a failure.

        • They’re upset because PSN is down. 8[

          • Testsubject909

            They need to relax and need more then just one singular hobby… Mind you, gaming is my central hobby but I’ve got other interests.

            And even then. PSN being down doesn’t affect me overtly. I still have my PC, tons of games to play and seriously the whole fiasco is annoying because the subject of PSN being down is being overabused by 360 fans to attack Sony and fans of their console, or even just neutral parties.

            It’s just plainly annoying. I’d honestly wish everyone would just stop mentioning anything about PSN for the next week or two, but that’s an impossibility.

            And yeah, it’s a bit of a reaction to a simple response like yours, but hey, at least I’m not being passive aggressive and whatnot. Just despairing here over how easily people panic and make use of panic to enforce their own opinions unto the people…

            Reminds me of politics… Ugh… Canada’s in trouble…

          • I said it as a joke, haha. But yeah, people need to lay off Sony and read the facts. Most people still think Anonymous is involved, when they’re not.

        • Be nice Ishaan (I’ve been busy chasing rainbows of pretty colours, if you call investigating several major events as pretty rainbows. Blood coloured, with the smell of money, I suppose, if you’re asking.) they sort of need their hopes up. Dear goddess knows I need one, particularly after the last couple weeks.

          For most part Ishaan’s correct, and I’d add an extra note – given their behaviour, there’s a non zero chance that Capcom’s management don’t really believe the game’s worth pouring time and money into as it is (As in 3DS is), and are pretty much only running with it probably due to some fast talking.

          Gaming is a business first, and they sort of need to make sure they can make money so that their share and bond holders don’t come after them with pitchforks. If they can’t get their numbers to add up, they can’t and they won’t.

          And the only way you can prove those numbers CAN add up is by proving you a) have the money, and b) will buy.

          Since they can’t mind read, they sort of have to guess at the numbers, and that’s where belief (They have to do their own internal reports after all and they’re based off something) and prior experience comes into play, and that’s why the above matters – it gives insight into WHY they make the decisions they do.

          The numbers at the moment suggest that a) is shrinking, and to a degree so is b) so, realistically, it’s not surprising.

          Sad perhaps, but that’s how it is, really.

      • kroufonz

        by now we should at least get one HD JRPG from them (lolBOFlol) before capcom even possible to consider MML3 released as HD title.

        since we still got nothing, no way they make it as PS3 title

    • “Every japanese company” hahahaha ^^

      You can’t blame them, really. Dead Rising is still quite a popular series. Platinum Games aimed their games towards everyone. Also No More Heroes, which is kinda a mix of otakuism with the sensational western badassery. You have to remember, some of the JP developers’ “usual stuff” was better off in Japan than what they could expect overseas. Though I wonder why they don’t use these states as a stepping stone to earn more sales rather than expecting a large number of sales from us.

      • malek86

        Well, the strategy would have worked if they actually knew what we wanted. Instead of saying “let’s make games aimed at western markets”, except they didn’t know what the western markets wanted.

        Squenix was the only one to make a sensible (but expensive) choice, by buying an entire european publisher, in order to obtain their know-how and expertise on the market. It may take a while to recover the investment, but I think it will work out in the end. Other companies have seen mixed success (Capcom has had some hits and some misses), while other companies have downright failed (Namco seems to have backed away from this line of thinking).

        • PrinceHeir

          and Deus Ex HR and soon to be Legacy of Kain will deliver :D

  • gatotsu911

    I kind of get the sense that Capcom Japan is grossly out of touch with what its US fans want, like, in general.

    • It isn’t necessarily their job to know the ins and outs of the U.S. audience…Capcom USA exists for a reason. :p

      • Altritter

        That’s understandable, but this misunderstanding they have about Mega Man in the US still seems pretty strange to me even with Killian’s insight.

        • Is it really all that surprising, though? I mean, we were surprised, too, when Seth told us how their Japanese division felt, but both he and Sven say that there are sales numbers to back it up.

          That, and of course the fact that it skews younger in Japan. That’s kind of interesting, actually. Brands like Mario and Dragon Quest (which also started out on the NES) are played by young and old people in Japan, but Mega Man isn’t, because — going by Sven’s quote — he’s been marketed more to a younger audience in recent years.

          On the flipside, Capcom USA have always handled the “nostalgia” aspect of Mega Man very carefully, so you have a lot of older fans that still value the brand.

          Keep in mind that we’re talking about both cultural and language barriers, haha. A lot of people look at the anime market and feel like moe and loli are all that sells in Japan any more, even though that isn’t necessarily true. :p

          (…or is it?)

          • Altritter

            Hmm, yeah, good points. It’s possible that Mega Man seems that it’s a bit more popular in America than it really is due to how vocal its fans on the internet are about it. The thing about the nostalgia factor is interesting, too; now that I think about it, almost all of the Mega Man fans that I know, online or off, are eighteen or older, with people in their 20s being the most prominent. So maybe the series isn’t bringing in too many new, young fans in America.

          • malek86

            But he also said that MM9 and MM10 sold much better in the USA than Japan, so surely that’s something Capcom should consider?

          • I think they did! Look at MML3 and the devroom. They’re making an effort to collaborate with U.S. fans, too, heh.

      • godmars

        Still, the has always been a segment of Western gamers who wanted their games as they were, before they ever offered them in the West. A very vocal minority which Capcom and other JP devs never seemed to pay any attention to.

        • I’d say that vocal minority was served very well up until the end of the PS2 era, and certain developers still cater to them. The problem is, that vocal minority is also the hardest to please, which is why a lot of developers want nothing to do with them any more.

          It’s give and take, you know? There has to be compromise on both sides when you’re trying to preserve something. Unfortunately, a lot of the vocal minority *loves* to complain, even about the tiniest things, which can be off-putting to a lot of publishers.

          • “Unfortunately, a lot of the vocal minority *loves* to complain, even about the tiniest things, which can be off-putting to a lot of publishers.”

            Ah, the state of our beloved country. ^^

          • gatotsu911

            Are you implying that that is not a condition universal to the human race?

          • Not only is the vocal minority off-putting to a lot of publishers, it is also off-putting to a lot of other gamers. Well, maybe not. Maybe they just grate on _my_ nerves all the time. Even on a site where so many people share my gaming interests. A little depressing if you think about it.

        • The question is how big IS that segment? Even if it seemed like 15,000 people want Galgun to be released stateside, JP developers probably wouldn’t pay attention to that because Galgun is far too “Japanese.” Borderline, maybe. And 15,000 requests /=/ number of people going to buy the game. All the more reason for big-name JP developers to not be convinced

          • In Gal-gun’s case, I’d posit that you’d have childrens’ groups ready to skewer you with pichforks if they ever announced it in any way. I somehow doubt 15k sales in the US, when you draw the rage of a couple of multitudes more angry, hyperventaliating sloganed mobs is actually worth it.

            But you’re correct of course – those who want something to show up outside Japan may not be willing to purchase it at the price it is set at when it does show up.

            … One way to fix that I suppose is to basically make a deal – make people who want the game to sign binding contracts to pick it up on release for a set price, or else they pay the contract exit clauses.

            … But that’s way over the top (And could prove costly to enforce if a significant number of them try to disappear). But I’d bet if campaigns to get games over had 50k of those contracts turn up at the company’s HQ, we’d have games turn up a heck of a lot faster, and with a great deal more certainty.

      • gatotsu911

        True, but the problem here isn’t so much that they don’t understand Western audiences as that they think they do.

      • gatotsu911

        True, but the problem here isn’t so much that they don’t understand Western audiences as that they think they do.

    • Definitely agreed.

    • Revorse

      The US wants guns and online screaming matches.
      As for me, I’m quite fine with Mega. Battle Network was one of my favorite series as a child

  • Huh, that’s interesting. I always thought the opposite, that Mega Man would have been more appealing to Western audiences. The character of Mega Man always seemed fairly universal.

    Then again, when I was little I had no idea how dominant the Japanese were in the video game industry. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I learned Nintendo and Sega weren’t American companies, and by the time I got the PSone it was pretty clear.

  • dragoon_slayer12

    i bet you if they make mega man series look like powered up, sell it on psn/xbl/virtual store, with a price of $10-$20, it will sale. same with x series with maverick hunter x graphics.

    when maverick hunter and powered up released, it was in PSP’s early life. and with the psp still selling and selling games now, they mite hit top charts today till the NGP’s 2nd year (if made into a psp game or “mini”). i would love a mega man/x/zero series remake(s) and continuation of the ZX series, and i’ve purchased every old-school mega man game that has released since 6 (except for 9 and 10. this excludes the battle network “crap”), so i know i’m doing my part.

    so Cappy, why don’t you at least reward ME with “my” remakes????

  • Apache_Chief

    Japanese developers need to stop being ashamed of their culture in the global market and offer what they have as best they can. I guarantee it will be better than trying to make something American to compete with Americans.

    • Mel81

      Considering how nearly every Japanese media has to be “americanized” in order to sell well in america, is it any wonder why Japanese devs have no faith?

    • Namco Bandai tried that once. Then they realized people wanted more Tales games when their American-developed stuff wasn’t earning them money.

      • They did? I thought they’re still under the impression that nobody wanted more Tales games. I sure don’t. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told.

        • Wooooooooow, where have you been the past three months?

  • katamari

    I’m from Europe and MM is the hero of my childhood. I will never forget the great times I had with the Blue Bomber.

  • Shuryou

    I am European and I love Megaman.
    Hell, my nickname is taken from a Megaman game.

    • TrevHead

      Im the total opersite to you, as living in the UK I grew up with the ZX spectrum before moving onto the Megadrive where I became a fully payed up member of the Sega / Sonic fanboy club. So MM and so many Ninty games passed me by.

      I didnt even know who megaman was until I read a review of a MM X game in a PS1 mag. And since that was the time when the industry was pushing this new fangled 3D the game was bashed to hell for been crappy 2D and old hat.

      While I still enjoyed 2D games myself (Diablo and Legacy of Kain) some of this marketting did get through to me then, so I quickly passed the blue bomber as a POS it didnt help that the game looked as a young kids game.

      It wasnt untill last year when I played my first MM game which was MM1 and I really enjoyed it (although I did resort to using save states to beat willy’s tower) Having such a massive backlog of games I havnt had chance to properlly play anyothers apart from a couple of doujin clones but I certanly intend to play every MM and X game at somepoint.

  • Guest

    Maybe if Mega Man was a 35 yr old battle scarred 300 pound steroid bald space marine and the game had gore and was in first person

    • SetzerGabbiani

      Well done. It would sell millions. *gag*.

      • Guest

        Don’t forget DLC map packs for $19.99

    • Sarcasm detected. Seriously, a game’s “Japanese-ness” is a great selling point to a growing number of gamers swearing off and avoiding FPS altogether.

  • Zero_Destiny

    MegaMan is awesome. Don’t think otherwise Capcom of Japan. We love him and we still have dedicated fans here that will buy anything MegaMan related. Please continue to support us. I think it will continue to be profitable. ^_^

    • PrinceHeir

      yes we love him :P

      heck i sometimes refer to him as Rockman, but iv’e grown accustomed to Megaman.

      let’s just hope they make a new X or Zero game

      • Zero_Destiny

        Rock? Mega? Blue Bomber? Just the many ways to say Awesome. =]

        I haven’t beaten the last two Zero games but I think Story wise that the last game is the official end to that series. A new X game is definitely something I want to see though. :) Maybe release it like MegaMan 9 and MegaMan 10 on download as a 2-D platformer. That would be really cool. ^_^

        • PrinceHeir

          well i don’t really know how will they continue X.

          since X sequel is Zero(not counting X7 and X8)

          maybe a new series but combines the elements of the two? :P

  • z_merquise

    To Capcom of Japan and other Japanese publishers/developers with the same mentality:

    Do not believe in yourself but believe in those who believes in you (and that’s us gamers who believes in the Japanese gaming)!!

    • TheGoddamnedKamina

      did I just spot a TTGL reference? o.o

  • Sigh, this is the biggest case of mismarketing I ever saw in Capcom. Market Classic Mega Man to the older fanbase, since they’re the guaranteed audience.

    Marketing everything to kids only work, if you’re gonna introduce a new IP or an age-appropriate spin-off. :s

    • Mega Man can appeal to any audience, even now, at least as far as the classic series and those true to the roots go. I can’t see Battle Network / Star Force appealing to anyone but children, but to this day I’d be hard to convince the classics and 9/10 or even the ZX series have no appeal to a wide demographic.

      So, marketing ONLY to kids is a misstep, certainly, but so is marketing only to those of us with nostalgia for the originals. :/

      • TrevHead

        If you wanna know more about the real gaming culture in Japan then i sugest you listen to this podcast its every intresting

        So the case isnt so much as just Capcom marketing to kids in Japan, the whole industry does the same as its Japans main demograph.

        Taking this info It kind of makes sense that Japanese IPs are often abandoned or go through radical changes each console generation since they expect gamers to grow out of playing games when they are adults.

        It also explains why otakus are so damn creepy since they are automatically social outcasts for been adult gamers anyway

        • You mean, Japanese videogame companies treat gaming as a “phase”?

          • TrevHead

            (im a little late here) More like something only children should do, atleast as a hobby on home consoles anyway. thats why the average gamer age over there is under 17, in the west its 30-35. (the same applies for most hobbies that us in the west start when we are kids and continue doing well into our adulthood) Thats why school manga is so populer over there, due to the nostalgia factor for any “respectable” adult

          • It’s rather ironic now, considering how that’s how Americans treated gaming, since the 1980s until recently.

      • In hindsight, do you believe younger gamers’ collective ignorance of legacy franchises like Classic Mega Man is the reason why we have to put up with, “OMG! teh grafx suxorz (the graphics suck!)!” and as a result, a so-called “vocal minority (in this case, the younger gamers)” are doing their part to cost Mega Man new installments?

        • I don’t pin that at younger gamers. That’s just a particular kind of person who only appreciates a certain graphical direction, generally that which is presently perceived as “realistic,” a presentation I generally find utterly dull. While younger gamers are prone to it, I actually hear it far more often out of college-aged kids. Older gamers seem to have a taste that leans more towards immersion and living out some fantasy or other they can believe is possible somehow, whereas kids tend to more just want to goof off and have fun, which I think games like Mega Man or Mario would provide them a lot more readily than CoD or [whatever’s popular now that isn’t an FPS].

  • kroufonz

    if megaman can get canned than DmC surely can get canned too right???

  • I hate it when games from Japan get westernized. I want to play something exotic, not some black and grey crap. This is why I dislike any main Final Fantasy game past 10.

  • ninjaonizuka

    i think capcom should just trust in us western gamers i love all the series of megaman i think they should have a poll or sum type of event to see whether it is popular or not i think it is but reely i say the more the japanese the better id think they shud keep all the good stuff and try to make sumthing for us thats not wat we want like jump ultimate stars is my fave ds game tht wud have sold great over here same thing with the bleach games and gundam they should reely just focus on what they do best and give us what they usually make :D

  • kupomogli

    It’d be nice if the Japanese quit with all the, “oh how can we cater to the western market” bs. This generation has enough poor quality games as it is, please try not to fill it with more crap just because you’re hoping to get Call of Duty sales figures.

    Yes, it’s weird that Call of Duty pops up and being just another average FPS, it happens to become a huge seller. Or God of War first releases on the PS2 and people just seem to latch on to the series. In my opinion God of War is one of the worst Devil May Cry clones I’ve played, yet every release sells a ton. Then look at Dante’s Inferno and Lords of Shadow? Clearly trying to get in on the God of War game and the sales are a joke, but the games are much much better.

    God of War and Call of Duty were just released at the right moment where for some reason people saw them picked them up and bought into them. It could happen for any game. How long has the Dragon Warrior series been bashed by most gamers outside of Japan. It wasn’t until Square Enix had Nintendo start promoting the hell out of the series that it became semi popular outside of Japan. Now everyone is like DRAGON QUEST!!!!! OMGWTFBBQFTW!!!!!!

  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but back when Japan wasn’t trying so desperately to appeal to the North American game market, they practically were the North American game market. So why are they stressing over it now?

    • I think things were simpler back then. There wasn’t as much choice, games were still very new, tastes were still being established. People didn’t mind going into a store and picking up something that looked quirky because, really, how much else was there to play?

      Nowadays, you could almost say that supply outweighs demand, in a sense. There’s more than games than we know what to do with, and when you have that much choice, you tend to be far pickier. :)

      • malek86

        That’s the fate of most lucrative markets. Eventually, the number of companies will make it so that supply outweighs demand, competition brews, and only a few bigger operators survive the onslaught. Barriers to entry will make new competitors unlikely. Oligopoly? It sure looks like we’re heading that way, if we’re not there already.

        • I think we’re already there, hahaha. This industry operates on buzzwords; social network games, mobile phone games, multiplayer, music genre etc etc. There are very few people in the games business that can identify a “true” fad, rather than mix up fads with genuine long-term successes.

          Even with so many companies trying to go after a more casual audience on Facebook or iPhone or Android, they’re still trying to grab a piece of the same pie. It’s interesting how Activision and Take-Two aren’t gunning for the social network market yet that way, and instead, biding their time while they wait for the dust to settle.

          Sorta unrelated, but I love what Square Enix are doing on the iPhone that way. Everyone else settles for selling games at $1 or $2 (or free), but they went and put Final Fantasy III up for $16. Very smart thing to do; lower than retail price, but not low enough to damage its perceived value.

          A different kind of audience (perhaps more limited, but the price will help offset that) will buy FFIII than the people who buy Angry Birds.

  • papuruka

    In a sort of backwards logic, Okami was a through-and-through Japanese game, yet it’s not THAT popular in Japan too, sales-wise.

    Methinks CAPCOM JP is just a bad judge of the demographic.

    • How was Okami marketed in Japan? For new IPs, marketing literally means life or death for them.

  • “At the time, Nintendo didn’t have their own European subsidiary, and the NES didn’t reach the same level of popularity in Europe as it did in the U.S. or Japan.”

    Wow, wow, WOW! Hold it right there!

    You make it sound as if the NES wasn’t popular at all. It definitely was.

    It’s true that Mega Man didn’t reach the popularity of Mario (which is just as big as in anywhere else), but still you have a very devoted fan base over here.

  • Happy Gamer

    I thought this was a April fools joke kuz it dropped on 1st of April…

    • But… the post was written on March 31st.

      Regardless, we would never make an April Fools joke (or any joke for that matter) where the joke is on the reader.

  • natto…. gross. I don’t anything makes me want american food more than Japanese breakfast.

  • Megaman is one of the most legendary video-game icons.
    But admittedly there is a generation of gamers out there who don’t give a crap about him or Mario.

    But I’m more worried about games reaching a point that they are like slot machines with gore and explosions.
    Games have gone to far to make things planned and automated to give false sense of accomplishment and make losing a matter of luck over skill.

    Capcom almost never fails me in that department.
    And Megaman games are among the greatest “its damn difficult but it was my fault I lost” games.

  • i don’t like mega man. i like ZERO! he is a lot more fun to play with (i guess i am used to playing street fighter 2 and zero plays like ken in mega man’s world)

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