Why Capcom killed off Mega Man

Yoshinori Ono was the man behind resurrecting Street Fighter and bringing it back to the masses. However, his physical health was the cost of it all. His interview doesn’t only shed light on why Street Fighter X Tekken was such a massive failure, or why we most likely won’t ever see Street Fighter V, but also why CAPCOM won’t make another proper Mega Man game for the next ten years to come.

“So from the company’s point of view, if the team is stating that it cannot do any better combined with a lack of sales, it’s a complete story and it’s time to move on.”

All the most recent Mega Man games from Maverick Hunter X to Mega Man 10 sold decently, but not well enough to warrant sequels. Mega Man Legends 3 was fate of the same treatment.

“Until the day of release, Street Fighter 4 was an unwanted child,” Ono says, his tone at once sad and defiant. “Everyone in the company kept telling me: ‘Ono-san, seriously why are you persisting with this? You are using so much money, budget and resources. Why don’t we use it on something else, something that will make money?’ No-one had the intention of selling it, so I had virtually no help from other departments – they were all reluctant, right up to the day of release.”

I have no doubts CAPCOM felt the same way about Mega Man X8 and anything that came after it. The Battle Network series sold like hotcakes with its balance of real-time fights and collecting, as did Mega Man Zero with the high difficulty level and modern take on the series. Both of these had sequels and failed miserably.

Creating a Mega Man game should not be expensive, and yet developing the for the current consoles is expensive. Mega Man 9 was costly because the old games had to be reverse engineered and go against the current state of technology. Mega Man 10 was quickly thrown together after that, but only after the sales numbers came in. Developing for the GBA was cheap in comparison, whereas the DS fetched higher price, and the lack of sales that ZX series had doomed it. Same with the Starforce series, which shared the same weaknesses; they were lite versions of their predecessor series.

Mega Man Legends never had proper sales. People bought the first game because it was Mega Man in 3D, but even these people knew what they were getting into; completely different thing that main series were about. Legends 2 sold very little, and at this point CAPCOM had already started becoming the entity we have today.

Legends 3 was cancelled for one reason; it would not have sold well enough. This is the reason CAPCOM “killed” Mega Man; there was no money in it. CAPCOM’s obsession on HD gaming is what killed Mega Man.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s CAPCOM was all about making great games, as evident on Ono’s statement. Arcades was where CAPCOM ruled and made their money. When the arcades died, CAPCOM had to change. However, we all remember how Nintendo’s sales always plummet when they abandon their arcade roots. The same goes with CAPCOM. However, CAPCOM has nothing to make a comeback, as they’ve stopped producing their own arcade machines (the glorious CPS series) and barely produce worthwhile game there any more.

Would it be possible to reproduce the arcade feeling at home? If we take another look at Nintendo, the answer is Yes. Capcom has done it many times over, and the Disney license games they did back in the 80’s and early 90’s is a proof of this; these games were arcade games adopted for home consoles. These games have a hidden property as well, which is that they are generally rather cheap to produce as they do not need to be in HD at any point, but they do need a proper developer team who simply wish to make a good game. This team also needs to have limitations and a clear goal what they’re doing, and keep it simple. Very few arcade games were complex to begin with, and the most complex arcade games happen to be fighting games like Street Fighter III.

Why ZX series died out wasn’t just it’s watered down content, but because it wasn’t a Mega Man game. Zero series gave a proper way to roam free, but within strict limitations. If I wanted to play a 2D-exploration, I’d play Metroid. The Starforce series wasn’t just watered down, but also complicated certain matters that were supposed to be simple but abundant. The decision to make Starforce 3D was most likely an executive decision, or at least what the market department decided. Any good businessman could’ve seen that both ZX and Starforce would flop.

Does Mega Man have an audience out there? Yes, but the customer base has diminished in great numbers. People who got into Mega Man were at age five to fifteen when Mega Man 2 hit the scene. It was my first Nintendo game I ever remember playing and beating. It was the game that made me jump from Atari 520ST, from computers, to consoles. Now we’re all well over our twenties and thirties. People who played Street Fighter II have enjoyed Street Fighter IV, but I’ve seen that they will always regard II as the better game, for good reasons.

Up until Mega Man’s twentieth birthday we all could enjoy great amounts if insanely well made games, as well as bunch of mediocre and bad ones. When somebody like Ono does the same thing to Mega Man as he did to Street Fighter, we can expect Mega Man 11, or perhaps X9. If done correctly, they will use that era’s technology and not rely on nostalgia. They will put their heart’s tears and blood into it, crafting the same fun game have had since the first one.

CAPCOM isn’t toying with their customers. They’re not pissing them into their eyes or anything like that. To them it’s a cold truth that Mega Man does not sell any more. The golden days of their unofficial mascot has been long over and there’s nobody taking the lead. To us customers, to us fans who still wish to see a new Mega Man these times are sad. We can play over and over the past games only so many times. CAPCOM has not been loyal to anyone in the past ten years. The CAPCOM which developed Street Fighter II, Final Fight, Mega Man X, Captain Commando, Kikaioh and all other classics is no more. The CAPCOM we have nowadays is in financial trouble. It tries to survive in these times when macroeconomics are bad, but quite worse yet.

It’s wrong to say that Mega Man was killed off. Mega Man was not killed, but simply… stopped. It’s a dead franchise. Capcom didn’t kill off Mega Man, but in their eyes everything that Mega Man had is no longer alive. Perhaps they’re following the small sales the comics and books are making, but a new game seems to be out of question. CAPCOM’s not willing to invest into releasing the DASH games on PSN, as they would need to pay some money on the licensing issues in the game, like the songs, and they aren’t interested in removing them from the games… which only shows that they’ve lost the source codes.

It’s been a good run guys. The only thing we can really do is to keep asking CAPCOM for a new Mega Man game, and hope that they have someone who is willing to take the same burden Ono did with Street Fighter. Without a person like him inside, I’m afraid it all will be in vain otherwise.

Mega Man’s story is far from over; We never got to know what happens after Mega Man 10, how would Lumine’s rebellion affect X’s world, how the world became one of race of Carbons, and how the hell did Trigger get off Elysium. As far as CAPCOM stands, these are questions that are left open, never to be answered. And perhaps it is for the better….

…everliving life in memories…

…until someone awakes the hero anew.

7 thoughts on “Why Capcom killed off Mega Man

  1. I always admired Capcom developers for their awesome work in respect to Mega Man(1987-2011). But now that they’ve definitely and intentionally destroyed Mega Man, I started to hate Capcom a lot. Mega Man was truly the only Capcom franchise of my concern. Nowadays, only Nintendo interests me right now, because Mario is still alive and kicking. Should I be sad just because Mega Man is dead? No, not really. In fact Mega Man has died, but he will always live on in my memories as one of the greatest side scrollng games of all time. Mega Man is an immortal legend.

  2. thxx saluo u made realize today that mega man will still live on in my memories and in my heart now spread ur word to every mega man fans

  3. Okay, killing off characters/franchises and then coming up with some optimistic excuse is not a good thing. A franchise should not have to be stifled, just because a company has some developers who are either unskilled or make piss-poor decisions. Judging by everyone’s logic here, they should kill off Mario too. NO! If Mario can receive quality care and last for this long, why not Sonic, or Mega Man. They deserve to keep making games for generations to come. And all of this talk of making money just makes me vomit inside. This is why Nintendo is better than Capcom. Not only do they care about their IPs, but they also focus on the fun aspect of games, where games aren’t just some difficult core, some COD-esque masochism campaign, or a microtransactional bait and grab (excluding Pokemon Shuffle).

    But if Capcom really isn’t willing to do anything with Mega Man anymore, hand the franchise over to Nintendo. I’ve gotten a gist of what the main series is like in terms of plot. It wouldn’t be too hard for Nintendo to carry on. And for the record, I haven’t played any Mega Man titles until 2009, but I’ve only stuck with the main series. However, I still recognize him as one of the four main mascots in video gaming. The only issue is that Mega Man has also appeared in a few Capcom/Marvel crossovers, and with Mega Man owned by Nintendo, and not Capcom, it would cause some legal confusion in terms of rereleasing older titles. Situations like this make me wish I could just emulate any game on any system of my choice. Not need for PC emulators or copyright battles. Also, if owned by Nintendo, Mega Man wouldn’t be representing Capcom as a mascot.

    It’s sad to see a mascot you respect vanish into obscurity, because a company rather rake in profits.

    1. A franchise becomes as stifled as its consumers are, unless the company decides to rejuvenate it. To claim that CAPCOM are unskilled would be incorrect, as they still are pushing out technically good games. Poor decisions is also rather subjective view, thou it can’t be argued against that certain decisions they’ve made did dip them into the red. Nevertheless, titles like Monster Hunter still rake in big bucks.
      No, the logic here does not apply to Mario. Mario has seen constantly relatively high sales, especially 2D Mario games, whereas Mega Man’s franchising became more or less a dead end after Battle Network. Sonic and Mega Man can’t get currently proper treatment either in their respective owners’ hands mostly because they don’t have no idea how to utilize them. Sonic is a much more American franchise than Japanese, and the more SEGA stepped away from their arcade roots and more towards story emphasized Sonic, the franchise began to suffer. It began to add complexities that didn’t exist beforehand, and with each increasing generation Sonic games became more complex and expanded to the point they were essentially broken. Prime example being the 2006 one.
      For Mega Man the issue isn’t just that CAPCOM doesn’t give quality treatment, it’s that there isn’t anyone to give it. While the core structure of Mega Man is very easy to replicate, it takes hard work and research to design the stages and enemies properly and avoid from falling into the pits of its own myths. One myth that Inti-Creates believed was that Mega Man is a hard franchise, while in reality a five years old can beat Mega Man 2.
      Profits is what runs companies. They are not charities. Their aim is to make money, and CAPCOM has been squeezing money from Mega Man fans with all the merchandising, and thus far it seems to have been more than adequate success as there seems to be no stopping them. To say a company like Nintendo doesn’t do its products for profit, like overpricing Amiibos and pushing arbitrary limits on their games, would be again incorrect. Nintendo may have a better image than CAPCOM nowadays, but they have stifled their IPs just as much. When was the last time we got a new Star Tropics, Balloon Fight, Joy Mecha Fight, Duck Hunt, F-Zero or a Detective Club entry? What is fun is highly subjective and thus a weak comparison point. CoD may be largely hated by certain group of core gamers, but its monetary gains can’t be ignored, even thou one wouldn’t personally like it. Nintendo has dabbled into bullshit DLC with Amiibos and especially how Smash characters have been handled. In addition, according to news articles, Nintendo has at least considered a F2P model Animal Crossing which would use said micro transactions. Knowing how NX is part of the DeNA system, that network will utilize them, at least those that would be licensed and employed on DeNA’s platforms, whatever they may be.
      To say that a company should hand over an IP to another is rather naïve. CAPCOM has clearly been doing something with the IP all the time in franchising it out and producing all that merch for the hardcore fans. Secondly, the plot never mattered in Mega Man. Nobody plays Mega Man for the story, especially when it comes to Classic series. This is why Hitoshi Ariga’s MegaMix and Archie’s Mega Man comics have been such great pieces, as they’ve taken the very little that needed for the games and expanded them into their own thing. Most 80’s kids may still recognize Mega Man as a mascot, but this does not apply to pop-culture overall anymore, nor with CAPCOM. Even Kratos from God of War has more presence and relevancy in pop-culture than Mega Man nowadays. Rathalos has been more a mascot to CAPCOM for the last decade than any of the Mega Man mains, thou MegaMan.EXE did stay there for a good time. Same with Ryu, thou in the early to mid 2000’s he was relatively absent before SFIV.
      Don’t expect to see any of the old Marvel VS games released anytime soon. Disney has taken their game development in-house and is not distributing licenses outside. This is why MvC3 and Deadpool were pulled from digital distribution, because the licenses expired.
      You can pick up Mega Man games on almost any current platform. Some games are of course unreleased due to the fact that CAPCOM doesn’t hold the license to their contents, like with Legends’ power drink label. This can’t be simply removed, as SONY wouldn’t then allow the game to be released as a PS Classic.
      Any company rakes in money, that is their mission statement. Mega Man’s fall from relevancy can be more put on the falling birth rates in Japan, where there are less children and the old fans have now become salarymen. In West, Mega Man was only held up by the core fans, as the games became more repetitive with each game, adding nothing to the franchise. A new game should be good enough to make the previous one obsolete.

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