After Capcom recently mentioned that it would generate new IP in Japan, from now on, as a result of Dark Void bombing at retail, it makes me wonder how long it’ll be before all Japanese publishers rethink their pro-Western development philosophies.
When both Dark Void and Bionic Commando were announced as emblems of a new worldwide Capcom, at X360 we were quietly aware that neither stood too much of a chance at wide commercial success, regardless of their quality. We’ve actually awarded both an 8/10, so they’re not bad efforts by any stretch – what went wrong lies in their familiarity to the consumer. They just don’t look or feel like Capcom games, and the absence of popular or existing IP on each played a part in their failure as well.
On name recognition alone, for example, a Resident Evil game would’ve sold more than either Bionic Commando or Dark Void; it’s not a pleasant truth, but it is almost certainly the case.
It goes beyond that, though. The differences between east and west art direction is arguably more pronounced in videogames than in any other medium. In the majority of cases, I’d wager any casual gamer could tell if a game was created in Japan or America based on a few screenshots alone. I think, for many consumers, Capcom is primarily seen as a Japanese company – that’s what appeals to them.
It’s a shame, because Dark Void and Bionic Commando are both brave efforts that introduce new qualities to stoic existing genres. Props to Capcom, GRIN and Airtight Games for trying.