RE5 producer outlines the 10 Capcom-mandments

D.I.C.E. 2009: Jun Takeuchi details Japanese publisher's recipe for worldwide success and the failures along the way.

LAS VEGAS--One big trend among Japanese publishers of late has been the pursuit of worldwide appeal. However, few have succeeded in capturing the imagination and money of Western audiences like Capcom. Games like Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and Dead Rising were created with Western audiences in mind and established themselves as hit franchises right off the bat.

Jun Takeuchi

This morning at the D.I.C.E. Summit, Capcom creative director Jun Takeuchi--the producer behind Dead Rising, Lost Planet, and the anticipated Resident Evil 5--shared the publisher's approach to making games with global appeal, as well as a few of the missteps it encountered on the way.

According to Takeuchi--who gave his presentation through a translator--the first faulty approach Capcom took was to believe developers just needed to understand how foreigners feel and think. Another was the assumption that if foreigners saw themselves in the products, they would be more likely to buy them. Or as Takeuchi put it, "If we can just get a couple guys on our dev team to dye their hair blond, then maybe we can sell our games there."

The game that came from that line of thinking was Onimusha 3. The Onimusha series of samurai action games had been successful enough, but Takeuchi said sales in North America and Europe "left something to be desired." Capcom's idea to broaden the appeal of the series was to take a face who would be more familiar to Western audiences--French actor Jean Reno--and include him in the game.

"I guess you could say we dyed the game blond," Takeuchi said.

It didn't really work, Takeuchi said, adding that fellow Capcom employee Ben Judd had told him it wouldn't at the time. Then simply an adviser to the company, Judd is currently the producer on the new Bionic Commando game.

Another approach the company took was thinking that success for a Japanese publisher in the US market would be like the success Japanese baseball player Ichiro Suzuki has enjoyed in Major League Baseball. So just as Ichiro has a team full of Western players helping him to succeed, so too did Capcom decide to get lots of advice from foreigners during development on another of its games, Shadow of Rome. The violent gladiatorial combat game never came together, and Capcom chalked it up as another disappointing attempt to court Western audiences.

The lesson Takeuchi pulled from all this was that overcomplicating things only leads further away from success. He turned to a Japanese proverb that states, "In order to defeat your enemy, it's not enough to know your enemy; you must know yourself." So Capcom took a look at the problems facing Japan itself: a near-homogeneous and isolated society that might have little direct contact with outside cultures but enjoys the products of them (iPods, McDonald's, rock and roll) regardless.

Ultimately, Takeuchi and Capcom determined that Japanese publishers were too focused on their own market as a way of reducing risk and wound up increasing their chances of failure. Japanese game makers were concentrating their investment on projects that could make their money back even if they only sold well in Japan, Takeuchi said, a strategy that limited not just the games' appeal but also their total potential budget.

To get around the problems it identified, Takeuchi said Capcom embraced its own 10 Commandments for management.

1. Keep staff turnover below 10 percent per year
2. Maintain ability and cash reserves to increase personnel by 10 percent each year
3. Keep development cost fluctuations within 10 percent
4. Investment in new IP needs to be kept within 20 percent of company-wide development budget
5. The structure and organization of the company needs the flexibility to change in response to growth; goals and objectives must constantly be reviewed
6. Goals and objectives must be adaptable to external forces (see Square Enix's decision to move its Dragon Quest series to the Nintendo DS)
7. Objectives and aims must be set from the top down
8. Reform must always be undertaken from the bottom up
9. There should be no taboo areas when it comes to reform. Reform must be undertaken at all costs. (This lesson from Toyota, where management and developers worked together to create a problem-free work environment.)
10. Set achievable targets; unachievable goals bring down motivation

But more than any of those rules, Takeuchi said the most important aspect of Capcom's success comes down to one simple rule: whether the users enjoy the game or not. All of the company's development efforts must be focused on making things fun, he said. Takeuchi said that's been the company's approach since Street Fighter III, and if Capcom can't do that, it has lost its reason to exist.

Not all cultural boundaries can be overcome, Takeuchi said, but fun knows no borders. As an example, he expressed his love for American-developed games like BioShock and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

"Fun is the one word we at Capcom hope never to forget and the most important thing to take away from this presentation," Takeuchi concluded. Then, in keeping with a Capcom tradition, Takeuchi said to the crowd in English, "Thank you for playing."

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86 comments
bronxdutch
bronxdutch

i dont know how to feel abou is. i love the games capcom puts out. will this make them better? or make them worse? im scared that this will change what they have been doing right with my games. dam

singhellotaku
singhellotaku

I believe they are mistaken, shadow of rome ruled

games100
games100

"thank you for playing", what a legend, cheers for making some of my all time bestest games ever pal :)

lathan94
lathan94

I like western games much more than Japanese games. Capcoms attempts at attracting a western audience are honorable and i respect them for it. In my opinion Capcom is the best Japanese developer by far. Resident Evil 4 was their masterpiece in my opinion. I dont really care for Street fighter games that much (gasp!!) but its just my opinion. Currently my favorite developers are Bethesda, Bioware, Infinity Ward, Epic and Creative Assembly.

Sh0nen
Sh0nen

Um, Muniara, a lot of people know about Elfen Lied. It just sucks.

macrules_640
macrules_640

Thank you Capcom for continuing to make quality games.

Muniara
Muniara

@InfectX you rock for being one of the 30 other people who know about Elfen Lied.

RockmanSRD
RockmanSRD

This is pretty interesting... Capcom is great, I've loved them since my Arcade/SNES days.

aiia
aiia

res5 will be awesome

jerm26576
jerm26576

I was looking forward to RE5 for years literally, i played it and was so horrified and upset over the horrible camera angle, the sloppy stand still controls(move move we need to run and shoot already) and the overall pain in the butt partner who gets in the way and gets you killed. I like the lone ranger REvils, just like ashley got annoying in 4(my favorite) this girl helps some but becomes a pain. The inventory is horrible because you can't stop the game to change your weapons and then BAM your dead or fighting off a umm(zombie, infected human) whatever. So now i'm looking forward to Bionic Commando instead which looks more promising. Capcom rocks but i think they ruined RE5, we'll see.

Hedfix
Hedfix

Guess I'd better try the demo then. I really hope RE5 isn't dumbed down and really easy like Gears 2. RE4 really was awesome.

Drkr_Zen
Drkr_Zen

I disagree, Skull-Fire. Achievable goals that are, eventually, met boosts motivation which, subsequently, turns out an end product with more effort put into it. Also, setting goals that aren't too easy or even impossible may provide a challenge, but when you don't meet them it may have a hindering effect or word may reach the customer which may disappoint or change their views of the company.

clankwise
clankwise

Skull-fire it is a good a idea not to make unachivable goals. If a cavemen wanted to fly could he? no he would just get depressed and commit suicide

Skull-Fire
Skull-Fire

the 10th one is just stupid. Sometiems you need to set goals that arent so easy to accomplish and maybe even seem impossible, thats what truly motivates you.

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

joeythemachine, unlike you, I don't like regurgitation of press releases (that this and the EA one was) and would rather see independent editorial coverage and hard-hitting interviews.

joeythemachine
joeythemachine

Some interesting advice. Sort of goes along with the article yesterday about the EA rep's recession pep talk. I like these articles, but they're always so concise. If Gamespot redirected their linkable subjects more, I'd spend much more time here.

drangel_jam
drangel_jam

Jp gamers haven't massively adapted yet to the dual analog system, that's why western games don't do well in Jp. Whenever Square Enix makes a popular game with such features, things will change.

yaya-d
yaya-d

i like Capcom , it has many great games like DMC

siiixon
siiixon

i really liked lost planet, its certainly better then most games published in the last 2 years

InfectX
InfectX

Lost Planet and Dead Rising were largely unremarkable -- probably my least favorite Capcom games. No wonder RE5 is getting poor initial reviews relative to RE4. If they want to make good games, they should just make games the Japanese want to play. We Americans mostly don't know what good game are anyway. Bring back Mikami-san!

slingshot_ylo
slingshot_ylo

Imo, there some uniquely quirky Japanese things about games that should stay that way. They're part of the experience and really help a game develop it's identity. The biggest difference (to me) between Japanese and American games is that, excluding RPGs, Japanese games are more concerned with achievements (scores, rankings, etc.) and American games place a heavier emphasis on the narrative (plot, story arc) as part of the action. Japanese gamers play to be tested, American gamers play to be entertained. Capcom has improved in this area if you compare the depth of RE4 to earlier RE's. Above all, fun is still the most important feature a game should offer,but remember that 'fun' is subjective.

Aurey
Aurey

I love Capcom and most of it's games, but I have to disagree with Mr. Takeuchi. The way they handle DLC for their games is anything but fun.

big_and_dumb
big_and_dumb

"Resident Evil 5 is an add-on to Resident Evil 4. Nothing new." That would make sense, if you were stoned. I feel like i should add a little more to that, but the whole damn sentence is stupid.

YoJim8obaJoe
YoJim8obaJoe

I always liked the "Thank you for playing"catchphase,always hate games were you complete the game and it says "GAME OVER"makes you look rubbish when you in arcades

chinat
chinat

There are pits falls in releasing complete new games based on the original game; i.e. Lost Planet Colonies should have been released as an add-in like Fable 2 Knothole Island or The lost & The Damm for GTA 4, which took the original games formant into consideration, and allowed the original multi players to continue to play together without switching games to do so. I understand the need for profit, but to promote the games viability other factors need to be considered. Shame on CAP COM for screwing with a great game. CAP COM could redeem themselves by offering a downloadable add in to Colonies, which could be considered Lost Planet 2; new maps, new game play, new abilities; for a price of course?

StJimmy15
StJimmy15

"get our some of our people to dye their hair blond"... lmao if i cared, i would be offended.. thats like, if you wanna be thug, paint your skin black.

Daaku_Joyki
Daaku_Joyki

If Capcom actually advertised Shadow of Rome better so that people actually knew about it it would've been far more sucessful than what it is.

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

Capcom is a funny old company. They develop some of the greatest franchises in the industry, problem is they milk it to death. Problem is we love them for it lol.

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

Resident Evil 5 is an add-on to Resident Evil 4. Nothing new.

Pete5506
Pete5506

Is capcom doing something good now?

lamprey263
lamprey263

I'd be excited if Capcom actually invested in new IPs, they seem to recycle a lot of their games though, I'm glad they'll be releasing Dead Rising 2 and multiple consoles at the same time, I think they should do that with all their games, it really sucks when I'm waiting for them to release something else and they're just remaking RE4 or Dead Rising or Okami or Lost Planet or SFII and I already own them, I'm glad though they've broken from doing timed exclusives, even though I favor my X360 they're not going to make sequels for those games 'til they've already ported them elsewhere, if they get all the ports done at once they can just keep making new games

ArmoredBreaker
ArmoredBreaker

thank capcom for all these years, (currently waiting for devil may cry 5)

vietboi89
vietboi89

fun is nice and all but trying to please everyone will just end up please about 10% of them and thats not a good number for the gaming industry, just make the games for the intended audiences and itll all be ok in the end

mastriania
mastriania

Capcom: Like McDonald's, I'm "lovin' it".

hush404
hush404

Capcom is one of the most respected devs/pubs in my opinion. They know quality.

yboucher
yboucher

Dreski83: business is "war" in Japan. After WWII, that mindset was more or less sublimated into business, and it still holds today, to some degree.

star77241
star77241

Goals and objectives must be adaptable? If so, then why haven't you brought RE5 to Wii or any other cool games.

clauwman
clauwman

No, thank you dude. Capcom FTW.

Dreski83
Dreski83

Ummm... I appreciate the honesty, I really do. But referring to the foreign gaming audience as an enemy, proverb or not, just seems a bit strange :?

Sendmn23
Sendmn23

wow! This is sound advice from (what is in my mind) one of the greatest gaming publishers around. Capcom usually means quality to me. Its rare when I re-think about buying a capcom game. Thats not to say they don't make bad ones too... because they have before.... but for the most part I really like thier games alot.... This is one of those companies I don't mind showing my support with my hard earned dollar.

rex8000
rex8000

Capcom is cranking out great games. Good company, benefits us. ^^

kgb1234
kgb1234

It's so true BlueFlameBat, I don't want to hear about how great Capcom think they are, why don't they explain to us why they are ripping off gamers for things that should've been included in the final game, especially when they are releasing the DLC a week after the game is out. At least wait a couple months to try and hide your true intentions, Capcom.

BlueFlameBat
BlueFlameBat

kgb1234, I was coming here to post almost the exact same thing.

kgb1234
kgb1234

11. Take things that could have been included in the final game and make lots of money on it by selling it as DLC. (Street Fighter 4 alternate costumes come to mind...)

dannyodwyer
dannyodwyer staff

great article, interesting stuff

thesineater
thesineater

Just another good reason why Capcom and Konami are the greatest third party Videogame companies in the world.

ahpuck
ahpuck

"Not all cultural boundaries can be overcome, Takeuchi said, but fun knows no borders. " that says it all. thanks for making fun games, capcom.

jasonharris48
jasonharris48

Good article, also very nice hoodie Takeuchi has on.

BMWPro77
BMWPro77

Very interesting article. I enjoyed it. Very informative.