Mega Man 25th Anniversary Interview: Finding Equilibrium With Capcom USA

By Ishaan . December 23, 2012 . 5:00pm

Capcom’s Senior Community Manager, Brett Elston, is one of the company’s more vocal proponents of Mega Man, and like their Senior Vice-Presdent, Christian Svensson, he has a lot to say about the series. We got in touch with Elston to talk about Capcom’s ongoing Mega Man 25th anniversary celebration and what the future might hold.

 

One of the things we’re obviously going to see for the 25th anniversary is the re-release of older games. What are the chances we could see a “3D Classics” version of one of the Mega Man titles, similar to what Nintendo have done?

 

Brett Elston, Senior Community Manager: A great idea, and one I’ve brought up before… it’s just something both Capcom Japan and Nintendo would have to collaborate on. Never say never, but no official word at the moment.

 

You recently said that there are some hurdles involved in getting the NES Mega Man games onto the Nintendo eShop in North America. Can you talk about what those were?

 

Now that we’ve announced the release date of these titles (starting with MM1 on 12/27), we’ll come clean and say most of those “hurdles” were getting everything lined up for the anniversary period. We wanted to have MM1 arrive as close to 12/17 as possible, which required close coordination with Nintendo.

 

How is the anniversary celebration being handled between Capcom USA and Japan? You said at one point that the two divisions were going to be doing different things, but will there be any events or game releases that are common to both?

 

Both sides are aware of what the other is doing, and we’re trying to replicate things as much as possible. That said, much of Japan’s celebrations were leading up to December, while ours begins in December and will continue throughout all of 2013.

 

[Christian Svensson] said that he was personally of the opinion that Mega Man had branched out a little too much at one point, and that there were too many sub-series that were competing with each other. If you could go back in time and streamline the brand a little bit, how would you do it?

 

This was before my time, but I agree with Christian that there was perhaps too much happening all at once. As a journalist (and avid Mega Man follower) it was hard to find time to cover and play all of the different SKUs, so I and many of my friends had to “settle” with one version of the character at the expense of the others.

 

Some chose Zero/ZX, some chose Battle Network/Star Force, while I veered toward Powered Up, Maverick Hunter X and Mega Man 9. All are viable options and have great mechanics. But looking back, perhaps they could have been spread out more, or more clearly messaged as to why each was bringing something unique to the table. Flash to today and we don’t have nearly enough; 2013 is a time to find equilibrium.

 

There have obviously been discussions about Mega Man’s future, internally at Capcom, during which the involved parties provide their input regarding the future of the brand. Can you say what kind of input you’ve provided or what you’ve gleaned from your understanding of Mega Man’s target market?

 

We can’t give any specifics on that, but it’s true we’re talking about this brand and this character a lot. But, part of the problem is the prior question above—each of those Mega Man spin-offs targets a similar, but not identical audience. No matter what we do, there are other types of fans that are not addressed. It’s a huge challenge.

 

Do you think retail is still a viable space for new Mega Man games?

 

It’s entirely possible we’ll find an idea or concept that warrants a full disc release, but for the immediate future, digital feels like the right way to experience Mega Man. What form it takes, and which platform(s) it appears on, would need to suit the game and the intended audience. That said, the perceived quality of a digital title should be quite strong these days; just because something arrives via download and not in a box doesn’t mean it’s “lesser” in some way.

 

You have a lot of experience interacting with passionate fans like the Mega Man crowd on the Internet. What have you learned over the years, and if you were talking to a new Capcom community manager, what advice would you give them?

 

Coming from a journalism background, I’m intensely familiar with internet comments and how negativity can very quickly outweigh positive and even neutral discussion. It’s fair to say we won’t please everyone all the time, but I sincerely try to read as many comments and threads as possible, pull out exemplary criticism (an all-caps rant isn’t as useful as a measured, thoughtful response) and pass it along.

 

Most people just want to be heard, and while we can’t act on every comment and address every complaint, we are paying more attention to the community now than ever before. Hopefully that becomes more apparent throughout 2013, which I am happy to say has more cool surprises planned.


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  • http://whatistheexcel.com/ Excel-2014

    I took that digital distribution survey the other day and fed my big Mega Man article from August in the write-in. I sure hope he read it.

  • MrSirFeatherFang

    I don’t remember all the sub-series coming out at similar times, though they were on different systems I probably didn’t own back then. As a Megaman fan I just naturally snatched up what was available for me.
    Well, it would be cool to see a new series or sequel/spin-off.

  • Endy Operin

    “No matter what we do, there are other types of fans that are not addressed”.

    So they decided that it’s better not to address anybody. Nobody is offended that other group gets something new if there are no any new games.

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      I don’t think they’re doing that at all. They’re just taking their time to decide what to do with Mega Man. People need to understand the reality of the issue, which is that MM is not a money-maker. If they’re going to revive the brand, they need to do it in a way that they can keep making games without incurring losses on them. That’s what they’re trying to figure out.

      • Asura

        Is there actual evidence that Mega Man is not a money maker?

        • Brandonmkii

          I want to say that if the games were money makers, they’d be making them, not canceling them.

          • Elvick

            They’ve done plenty of projects that went through with release that weren’t money makers.

        • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

          Pretty much what @Brandonmkii:disqus said. :P

          • Brandonmkii

            Droppin’ knowledge!

        • symytry

          You can take a look at these sad numbers, granted they are not to be 100% trusted, but they are relatively accurate:

          Legends:
          http://www.vgchartz.com/gamedb/?name=mega+man+legends

          and more recently,

          Powered Up:
          http://www.vgchartz.com/game/21406/mega-man-powered-up/Global/

          Maverick Hunter X:
          http://www.vgchartz.com/game/21410/mega-man-maverick-hunter-x/Global/

          Back in the day, those would have been awesome sales numbers, but in today’s market they are abysmal.

          • Elvick

            Powered Up and MHX weren’t smart decisions.

            Legends was something new, so it’s understandable many MM fans didn’t buy into it.

            MM’s real issue was over saturation in the long run.

            There was too much happening with the IP at once, and people were set in with finding a series and sticking to that one. Fragmenting MM’s fanbase.

            Capcom has no one to blame for MM’s issues but themselves. And they haven’t done much of anything to help fix the fragmentation.

      • ShawnOtakuSomething

        Evidence?

      • Endy Operin

        Well, I can’t really blame Capcom of America for current situation. We can’t ask much from them because they don’t have any power to affect MM series other than collecting information from Western players.
        What is really irritating that we don’t get any word from CoJ about Megaman. That’s why it’s so difficult to believe Christian Svensson or Brett Elston about the future of the MM series.

        • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

          The reason we aren’t hearing from CoJ is because they don’t want to talk about stuff until it’s 100% finalized. Nobody wants a repeat of the Legends 3 fiasco.

          • Christopher Nunes

            I still don’t understand why Legends 3 was cancelled… wasn’t that the most anticipated MM game of all and the one game to finish the Legends series?

            Did Japan like the Legends series? I know a lot of people in the US love the Legends series and were looking forward to it. And the demo to gauge interest was a good way to see IF it will make money… still boggles the mind, but there’s no use to complaining.

            Hopefully we’ll see more good news for MM… I really love the X series and want to see more of it in the future.

          • Morricane

            “[...]a lot of people in the US love the US[...]“…haha :)

          • Christopher Nunes

            Oops… thanks for pointing that out! ^_^;

  • Farid Belkacemi

    First thing I would like to ask for this 25th anniversary : restart the Legends 3 project :)

    • MentalAlliance

      Yep, no kidding. Also, wasn’t the demo or “prototype” version that was supposed to be on the eShop already done? Couldn’t they at the very least just release it and gauge people’s responses from there if they are so hesitant about moving forward with the full game.

      • Farid Belkacemi

        Sadly, the prototype version was finished when they canceled the game…

        • MentalAlliance

          Exactly, so if they are wanting to make up with their fans, I’d say bring back the prototype and consider finishing the game.

  • http://truner.beluva.hu/ Truner Razer

    I just want them to finish the Legends series. They’re one episode away from being able to put it to rest. Be it MML3 before the cancellation or something new, I just want them to finish their shit. Same goes for X. There’s not much to finish in the Classic series, they can stretch it however they want, but I want the story heavy games to be finished. Once the story is finished, they can lay them to rest or continue with spinoff stories if the series is selling.

    • Anime10121

      God I think I wanna marry your response! If they would only COMPLETE THE CRAP THEY STARTED with Legends, ZX, etc (I think Zero is the only series that actually had a definitive conclusion), we would all be more reasonable about them not wanting to do anything Mega anymore! At this point, I’d even take a manga (as long as it was localized/translated into English) that explains events of what happened after Legends 2 even though I’d MUCH rather have a game.

      Inafune promised a few years ago if a Legends sequel isnt out by the ten year anniversary of Legends 2, that he’d find a way to conclude the story. Capcom wont even give us that :(

      • http://truner.beluva.hu/ Truner Razer

        Both Zero and Battle Network were finished story-wise. In Zero 4, the conclusion was spoiler and spoiler. In Battle Network ended after the main problem of the story was concluded. It showed the characters future versions and all that ending stuff. I’m not too sure about ZX and I’ve never played Starforce so yeah. But yeah, even a manga would be okay with me, since I want a finished story. I’m also interested in the ending of the X series (even tho I’m not a fan of that series gameplay-wise).

        • Anime10121

          Well with Battle Network being an alternate universe, I’ve never been really up on that story (the games, while fun, just didnt have the same “feel” to me as Classic, X, Z, ZX, or Legends). X technically ended with X5, so I generally just ignore the other X games, although I did like X6 (the rest were honestly just cash grabs that Capcom made because Megaman was easy money).

        • http://gamgambit.tumblr.com/ Thespian Treasure Hunter ♢

          Starforce 3 also had a proper ending, making a sequel is viable but if they don’t make a new one it’s understandable, as a Starforce fan Im okay with SF3′s ending.

          ZX on the other hand they really left many things unsolved like Model Z’s fate and what’s Master Thomas up to.

          Just clarifying some stuff :P

        • OverlordZetta

          ZX left you one one nasty cliffhanger that I’m still mad they haven’t resolved. Not to mention the games were a blast to play and I hate that since then all we’ve gotten are just 9 and 10.

    • Elvick

      Amen. I mean, how hard is it to just wrap up the couple series left hanging? That’s what people want. Closure.

      And that would help to cut down on the pool of MM games to support, since you’ve wrapped more of them up in a nice bow for fans of those spinoffs. So they can be happy if you don’t make anymore in that series.

      Then they can focus on whatever they think will sell best or whatever it is they deem important.

      But no, let’s leave series open forever. That’s a better plan. Then when a new Classic comes out people aren’t able to just enjoy it, but be annoyed that there’s still no closure for another MM series. Much better handling of an IP.

  • LynxAmali

    What does doing a 3D remake have to do with Nintendo? That’s something that bothers me. Don’t Capcom have their own development teams? Also, no more digital throwback please for classic. I loved the original Megaman but when they released not one but two games in that format…yeah. I did like the difficulty though. They could probably do two main focuses at the same time (an RPG title and a sidescroller) to keep it from overflowing. Hell, reboot the franchise if that’s that big of a problem.

    • Elvick

      Wouldn’t surprise me if they’re just putting that out there to avoid any blame for it not happening in the future. Or just using it to be lay.

      Because, they also said that Nintendo has to decide if MM will be in SSB. Even when people asked specifically if Capcom would *agree* to let MM be in SSB if Nintendo asked. They just point you to Nintendo again.

      As if Nintendo could use MM without Capcom’s okay. -.-

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bobby-Jennings/100000158197173 Bobby Demetris Jennings

    All these excuses…Just make an X9. I’m sure nearly every Megaman fan started with the sidescrollers. Bring one of those out. It doesn’t need to be some high-profile budget game to be successful

  • Valtiel Ikari

    a great way to celebrate the blue bombers anniversary would be to pick back up Megaman Lengend 3… just saying

  • Phil Noctis Cier

    They are weak. Capcom dont know any better than releasing old games nowdays.

    Nobody strong to guide them, like Kenji.

    Give us MML3, that you stole from the fans!!

    • Kris

      Kenji?

      You mean Keiji Inafune? To be honest, he was behind some of what I see as the more questionable decisions Capcom made this generation, so I’m curious to see how the stuff that comes out of Comcept will do.

      • symytry

        Its funny that everyone attributes Inafune to creating Mega Man, but he only designed the look of the character. Tokuro Fujiwara was the man behind most of Capcom’s awesome older titles. Inafune is an artist for the most part that hasn’t done much of anything at all… I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘Comcept’ falls flat.

  • isfuturebright

    A lot of talking from CAPCOM but all we get so far is an iphone game and a indie game gone oficial… is that it?

    • Kris

      Well, they did say the year-long 25th anniversary started on Monday… Hopefully we’ll see more soon!

      • isfuturebright

        I hope for better days my good friend. I hope.

  • Machineguntommy

    This may not be the most popular request compared to a Legends 3 restart, but I’d be most happy with another NES style Megaman game in the form of Megaman 11

    • Herok♞

      MM X SF just came out

      • Elvick

        That’s a fanmade project. Hardly counts.

        And it’s STREET FIGHTER x mega man.

        MM didn’t get first billing in his own game.

  • Theofratus ‘Geese’ Lester

    Dear Capcom,

    Mega Man X9, Mega Man X9, Mega Man X9.

    Sincerely,
    The Straight-Edge Old-School Retro Gamer

    P.S.: Mega Man X9

    • Christopher Nunes

      Honestly I like to know what happens to Axl after what happened in X8 and in Command Mission, set 100 years later, he’s better.

      I kinda like to see an alternate story route like in X3 where X got Zero’s Saber if you performed a certain condition and get a different ending as well. Maybe X and Zero have to fight Axl at one point and depending on the conditions the players performed Axl is either saved or destroyed.

      Axl’s my favorite character but I like to see some choices the players can pick for the game, but have a special timeline to check in the game to show what is the canon route and the “What If” routes.

      • Testsubject909

        Axl’s not that bad. I see him as the Bass of the Megaman X Universe (Where X is obviously Megaman and Zero is the equivalent of Protoman).

        Considering the freaking cliffhanger they left us on the end of Megaman X8, it really would be nice to see a Megaman X9.

        • Christopher Nunes

          Agreed I want to see X9 hopefully soon in the future!

  • OverlordZetta

    It’s funny, for the tons of words here, they’re not really telling us a whole lot of anything in regards to what they’re doing.

  • Sergio Briceño

    If Japan’s celebration lead up to 12/12 then does it mean we can’t expect any new releases but just HD re-releases? I’m all up for MBN HD or MZ HD, but seriously, you have to end the X, Legends and ZX! Cliffhangers!

  • http://s1.zetaboards.com/Espada_of_Alexandria/index/ konpon568

    I don’t know, but it is for Bass.EXE!

  • Testsubject909

    I don’t know about the others but I played Megaman Legends.

    While flawed, it was it’s own thing. Established in it’s own world with more then enough details that you knew this Megaman wasn’t in canon with the main Megaman series. The controls were a bit hard to figure out at first, tank controls weren’t the best of things to use but considering how early it was in the days, it was forgivable as a few 3D games were doing this (though the only ones that pops into mind are Resident Evil and Silent Hill).

    The game was great fun nonetheless, very open for exploration and an entirely different but enjoyable experience.

    Plus, just because the last two games might not have met your expectations, if that’s what you were going for here, the third one would certainly receive a gameplay overhaul to better fit with today’s expectations in gaming while continuing on in the story and building on the lore that was already established as well as a variety of other core gameplay elements that were prominent in the Legends series.

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