Capcom recently updated their sales data in their Game Series Sales section, and with that we saw Mega Man gaining one more million units sold from 34 million to 35 million units since February 2019. That’s three million more units since June 2018. Their Annual report from the end of last, year, which I have a post about, stated that Mega Man 11 performed well. We could read between the lines that they were expecting it to perform worse, but the Blue Bomber still has some pulling power. With the cartoon series running, though not exactly making the biggest splash out there, the franchise has resurfaced again, much like how Devil May Cry made the news once more. Devil May Cry 5 performed a lot better, and if we’re completely honest, is the better game of the two. It was ambitious project that was true to the core gameplay but also pushed the 3D Action games just a little bit further once more. Mega Man 11, as much as the game is loved, did end up somewhat a shelf warmer. Compared to DMC5, MM11 is a lacklustre title. It was too safe a title.
It is because of Mega Man X Legacy Collection that the series gained one more million sales. Mega Man 11 sold some 870 000 units, so previous digital titles and X Legacy Collection must cover the rest. This is how Mega Man ultimately worked ever since the X-series was released. The Classic-series may have solidified the series’ status as an icon. Good games, to which Capcom would churn up sequel after sequel year by year, until they put the franchise in ice.
Neither Mega Man 11 or Mega Man X Legacy Collection sold one million units, as they don’t appear on Capcom’s Platinum million titles sold list. I don’t know Mega Man Battle Network 4 has sold so many units, it’s the very bottom feeder of the franchise itself. However, outside the NES era of games, most of Mega Man had one more or more sub-series running side by side. At best, Capcom offered 2D Action, 3D Action and RPG under Mega Man brand name during the busiest days of the franchise, and even more if you were in Japan.
I would argue that outside the NES days of Classic series, when it showcased quality game design and tight controls in comparison to some of the schlock the NES and (especially) Famicom had, Mega Man‘s strength later on relied on its multiple approaches and titles on the market at the same time. Capcom did manage to avoid brand confusion by clearly having different kind of visual flavour across the board. The core mistake between Mega Man and Mega Man X is, really, that the two look too similar. X simply looks an older, edgier take on Mega Man. Which he arguably is, but that was the 1990’s. That was par for the course and I love it. Each subsequent Mega Man was different enough to tell the difference, even at their games, but recognisable enough to say that they were, indeed, a kind of super fighting robot.
Mega Man is a multimedia franchise, make no mistake about it. Despite the games are its main product and lot of the side pieces like comics and toys were there to support the sales of the games themselves, Mega Man saw its most success when you had a little bit of everything out there. Mostly in Japan, sure, but that really reflects the nature of the franchise world wide; the little bits of that everything that West ever got was cherished by the fans like nuggets of gold. When Hitoshi Ariga’s Mega Man Megamix got its English release, the fandom celebrated like no other. This wasn’t the first bit of comics Western world got from Mega Man, but it sure was one of the most wanted.
How did Mega Man gain all those millions of sales since the last update without neither of the two big releases hitting platinum sales point? I told you that already; combined sales of multiple products. Whether it is because 2D action games just don’t have the same market pull they used to, or because Mega Man had become such a standard for the genre that despite their high quality they’re seen as run-of-the-mill titles or just because the franchise’s envelope can’t be pushed all that easily like DMC’s, one Mega Man title hitting that platinum point in the current era of video game market must have something significant behind it.
On the other hand, Capcom could go the true and tested route, put together a standard Mega Man title like MM11 and comp it with something that’s a bit different. If they were brave, which they might actually become with these increased sales, they might even try to make a new sub-series that would break the mould. Love it or hate it, Battle Network was a smash hit. Legends, not so much. Still has a stupidly dedicated cult following, who still keep hope for Capcom reviving Mega Man Legends 3.
Maybe that would be a decent pull, start the project from scratch and make it play better than what Gaist Crusher did. If you didn’t know, Legends 3‘s engine and very basic gameplay was more or less directly lifted and heavily adapted for two-part game series, which never really went anywhere despite having a cartoon and toys that interacted with the games. I’ve got few posts from 2013 (Christ that’s old and they’re terrible) about Gaist Crusher but never got around getting the second game and reviewing it. I guess I lost my interest in seeing how the series did, just like the Japanese kids it was aimed at.
Capcom could just go full stupid and release Mega Man titles like usual, throwing compilations left and right all the while not really considering how to grow and further the franchise. You know what? Give Mega Man Legends the REmake2 treatment. Take the base elements of the game, expand on the whole connected underground tunnels concept, polish and fully upgrade the gameplay, add more optional parts and possible modifications, explore further the concept of Rock being able to turn black rather than just have it a an interesting joke element (I’m pretty sure this ultimately evolved into the whole Black Mega Man and Synchro concept in Battle Network) and make the game look like a real Saturday morning cartoon it was clearly mimicking.
I can always dream.
Still, with these sales, Capcom probably will be making few Mega Man titles in the future, that much we wager to be certain. If they want to revive Mega Man properly rather than just with one game and collections, Mega Man X9 is probably high on their to-do list.