Capcom: PC retail is 'falling away'

Strategic-planning exec Christian Svensson says digital distribution is key part of publisher's strategy to improve desktop consumer experience.

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At last year's Game Developers Conference 2008, a consortium of PC-centric companies including Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Nvidia, and others, said that they would be banding together to create the PC Gaming Alliance. A nonprofit organization, the group's expressed goals were centered on "advancing the PC as a worldwide gaming platform."

Christian Svensson
Christian Svensson

One of the newest members to join the PCGA is Capcom. In an interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Capcom's vice president of strategic planning Christian Svensson expanded on the publisher's decision to join the organization, saying that the PCGA is necessary because retailers aren't adequately supporting the PC gaming environment.

"One of the problems, to be candid, is that retail is falling away," said Svensson. "What are the reasons for that? Partly it's that return rates are very high. Returns of a PC title are usually double that of a console title--why? Because it's not a great consumer experience because there's variation in minimum spec, and it requires a lot of consumer knowledge to figure out exactly what is in their box, and what that will run... Our membership of the PCGA is about improving the market: We want to improve the experience for consumers."

The Capcom exec specifically called out the role of digital distribution in improving the PC market. "Digital distribution on PC ties directly into our strategy," he said. "Capcom is trying to lead in digital distribution, and I would go as far as to say that in the console space we are already the leading software publisher... We will probably do as much digital selling as retail in the current climate."

The publisher has recently made a strong push into the PC gaming market thanks to its MT Framework technology, which streamlines the process of porting PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 projects to the PC. Recent and upcoming games to make use of this technology include Devil May Cry 4, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Colonies, Street Fighter IV, and Dead Rising 2.

Svensson went on to further explain Capcom's decision to develop the MT Framework in light of a seemingly flagging PC market, which saw retail revenues dip 23 percent in 2008 to $701.1 million. "We have brands that are very appealing, but the platform of choice in many countries is not a current-gen console," Svensson said. "The PC is global, and it's ubiquitous. And quite frankly, the more people who shy away from that platform, the bigger the opportunity."

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