Op/Ed: Console to Mobile - Challenge & Opportunity
Capcom Interactive President Midori Yuasa explains how the division leverages Capcom's strong gaming IP to benefit its mobile releases, without harming brand integrity.
A fundamental problem plaguing mobile publishers is our inability to effectively communicate directly to the consumer. With the current carrier centric business model, publishers are only afforded a few scant lines of text on deck in which to describe our offerings. And while off deck distribution provides publishers with a wealth of marketing opportunities, it has yet to gain any significant inroads in the states.
In an effort to generate some consumer awareness some publishers have experimented with contributing marketing dollars into advertising. The fundamental flaw I see with this approach is that a majority of mobile game purchases are impulse buys and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. In this environment the strength of the brand then becomes all the more critical, as it's ultimately the only way publishers can influence the purchasing decision.
As a company with a long history in the interactive entertainment industry, Capcom is extremely fortunate to control some of the most recognizable and beloved franchises in gaming. It therefore becomes all the more important that we maintain the integrity of the brand when we bring it to mobile, while simultaneously leveraging its reputation with consumers.
As an example, in the case of our recently released Lost Plant: Trag Zero, we had several unique resources at our disposal to ensure brand integrity. First of all, an entire expanded universe Lost Planet bible was written to ensure continuity with any future games and to further flesh out the Lost Planet back-story. Because this information was available to designers, the mobile team was able to create an original prequel story, instead of simply rehashing the 360 game. This helps us create a more exciting mobile game for the player while maintaining the brand integrity.
Anther critical component to the success of the mobile game was having access to the series creator, Keiji Inafune. Because of this unique relationship our mobile team was able to craft a game that complemented the core 360 SKU, while still providing the mobile gamer with a satisfying experience.
However, the single biggest contributor to the success of Lost Planet was the fact that it was launched as part of a much larger brand building campaign. For more than a year gamers have been hearing about the Lost Planet brand in game media, advertisements, message boards and promotional offers. So, when the mobile game landed on decks in December, our consumers knew exactly what our game was about because of the overall brand promise.
Conversely for established brands that don't have major marketing initiatives behind them like Resident Evil, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney or Mega Man we revise the design to fit the platform. In doing so, we're able to deliver a high quality game to the consumer while leveraging the strength of the core brand with hardcore gamers.
That's not to say that there isn't a place for games designed solely for mobile on our roadmap, and we have seen some success in this category, especially from our MMO Shade. However, in order for original mobile IP to flourish, I feel we need more dynamic marketing mechanisms beyond on-deck "featured placement." Once on-deck publisher channels and off-deck distribution become the norm, I believe the mobile games industry will finally have the tools in place to achieve its true potential.
Midori Yuasa is President of Capcom Interactive. Prior to joining Capcom, she served as executive director of mobile business at Sony Pictures Digital.
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