Interview: Capcom's Midori Yuasa
Capcom Mobile talks Phoenix Wright, new IPs, and more...
When Capcom announced late last year its intention to enter the U.S. mobile market via the formation of a Los Angeles-based team, Modojo doesn't think anyone was expecting its splash to be as big as it has. The company recently blew the lid off of its library of planned titles, and they span an impressively large amount of licenses, genres, and technologies.
Like most console publishers diving into the mobile space, Capcom is mining its back library to produce some surefire hits. Classic NES titles like 1942, Mega Man, and Ghosts N' Goblins have all been revealed. What sets Capcom's mobile line-up apart is how well it reflects and ties in with the company's current console plans. A mobile side story to 2007's Xbox 360 title Lost Planet is in the works, as well as an innovative extension to the cult DS hit Phoenix Wright. A 3D-enabled Resident Evil title is achieving PS1-level visuals.
Modojo spoke with Capcom Senior Vice President and mobile General Manager Midori Yuasa about the challenges facing such a young mobile presence, the company's growth roadmap, and how Phoenix Wright might just create a new mobile game business model.
The mobile gaming business might still be in its infancy when one takes the long view, but try telling that to someone who is only now trying to get its foot in the door. For Capcom, its proverbial foot has been its well-known library of classics.
"Right now our focus is on educating carriers," Yuasa said. "Informing them about our titles. Showing them things like the Mega Man or Ghosts N' Goblins brand, the fan support and recognition these brands have, and why it will perform well on their deck."
"These existing IPs are an excellent way for us to open up a dialogue with carriers," Yuasa continued. "In the future we have plans to expand and develop mobile-exclusive IPs but in the beginning you need to establish yourself with carriers and with consumers with a recognizable line-up."
Phoenix Wright - Bringing Episodic Content to Mobile?
Arguably the most intriguing announcement Capcom Mobile made was their plans for Phoenix Wright. The original DS game, released in late October, never turned in to a sales sensation. But since it has quickly risen to cult-classic status, with copies on Ebay now regularly selling for $60 (double the original MSRP). The game is actually a collection of five court cases, or episodes, loosely tied to one another. Yuasa and the rest of Capcom Mobile quickly recognized how big of a mobile opportunity this was.
"Phoenix Wright is something we're especially excited about. We're hoping this mobile release will help extend the brand and increase brand awareness beyond its core fanbase," Yuasa said.
"The game is episodic, so this presented us with a unique opportunity," she continued. "Starting in the summer we're going to begin releasing exclusive cases or chapters, once a month. The specifics will depend on the carrier. On one you might pay a monthly subscription fee and then receive your new case once a month, but on another you might be able to choose which cases to purchase from a menu. The 'game' would serve more like a 'player' that new cases could be inserted into. Cases will be exclusive to the mobile platform."
While such an episodic model is a perfect fit for a lawyer/court drama title like Phoenix Wright, it is one easily adoptable by most popular mobile genres. Action games could have new level packs released, racing or golf games new courses, etc. If the game turns into a longterm mobile success for Capcom, it might change the way mobile gaming content is delivered and paid for.
Roadmap to Success
The game also represents the second step on Capcom Mobile's roadmap. In addition to straight-NES ports, the company intends to leverage current and upcoming IPs in the mobile space, to piggyback on their exposure and marketing campaigns, and to benefit those console titles, as well.
"We're in constant communication with Capcom [HQ], and we're always looking to integrate where it's appropriate," Yuasa said. "This can be seen with Lost Planet, which serves as a pre-story to the Xbox 360 game, and will be released a few weeks prior. We also have a mobile Viewtiful Joe title planned for the end of 2006."
"We have multiple original IPs in development, the first of which will be ready by around Christmas, with the others not appearing until 2007. This year the plan is to take advantage of our licenses to establish ourselves in the mobile space," Yuasa continued.