Faced with an evolving industry, game publishers across the world have turned to mergers and partnerships to remain relevant and better position themselves to interact with a wider range of consumers than in years prior. In the Americas, the merger of Activision and Vivendi to form Activision Blizzard is one such notable example.
In Japan, the 2008 merger of Tecmo and Koei comes to mind. If one were to look for a more recent example, the upcoming merger of Marvelous Entertainment and AQ Interactive, effective from October 1st, is an exciting prospect as well. Finally, we also have last year’s merger of Atlus with mobile games developer Index, both companies originally owned by Index Holdings. The year prior, Atlus themselves acquired Gonzo Rosso Online KK, an online content distribution company and MMO operator.
Capcom, too, have made few acquisitions over the last couple of decades. In 1991, they turned Yunika Co., Ltd, an arcade operator, into a wholly owned subsidiary. Then, much later in May 2008, they acquired K2 Co., Ltd, developers of Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven and Valhalla Knights: Eldar Saga. Finally, more recently in October 2010, they acquired Vancouver-based Blue Castle Games (now Capcom Game Studio Vancouver, Inc.), and set them to work on the Dead Rising series.
Going forward, it appears as though Capcom intend to focus on similar western acquisitions rather than Japanese ones. The company recently posted a note regarding their M&A (Merger & Acquisition) objectives to investors.
“Capcom must increase sales in the Consumer Online Games Business outside Japan, where the market for these games is larger and there is much more growth potential, in order to maintain growth,” the note begins. “Acquisitions and partnerships are one of the important strategies for increasing our market share overseas. We aggressively seek the opportunities of acquisitions and partnerships for the purposes of creating game content with universal market appeal and acquiring technologies and know-how required for our ‘Single Content Multiple Usage’ strategy.”
“However,” the note continues, “a merger with a large Japanese game or toy manufacturer is not being considered as a serious option since it would not make a significant contribution to growth in our overseas sales. Furthermore, this type of merger also poses the risk of limiting our activities involving the licensing of game content.”
At present, Capcom have multiple ongoing collaborative partnerships with western development studios. Enslaved developer, Ninja Theory, are collaborating with Capcom on DmC, a reboot of the Devil May Cry series. Meanwhile, SOCOM developer, Slant Six Studios, are developing Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.
Other partnerships in the recent past have included Swedish developer Fatshark (Bionic Commando, Bionic Commando ReArmed), Airtight Games (Dark Void) and Bionic Games (Spyborgs). In 2007, Capcom also contracted God of War: Ghost of Sparta developer, Ready at Dawn, to port Okami to the Nintendo Wii.