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

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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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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.