- - The game industry seems to be in a perpetual state of change, which has really picked up over the last few years. Hardware performance has improved dramatically, platforms have become more diversified, and there is now a wider range of enhanced online functions. What is your take on the current state of the market?
When talking about the current state of the market, I feel it is important to look at it from two broad perspectives. The first would be platforms, such as game consoles, personal computers, and mobile devices. As user preferences change and evolve, so do the demands for hardware. Along game consoles, over the last few years we've seen a rapid increase in the number of people playing games on their personal computers and mobile phones (smartphones). Capcom boasts a wealth of expertise and content resources for developing console games, so we make it a rule to extend this content to all kinds of platforms.
- - You're referring to the "multi-platform strategy".
That's right. Our company's policy at this time is to initially develop titles designed for game consoles. But as long as there are people who want to play our games, there's really no way you can draw a line between platforms. Likewise, the ways in which people play games are becoming more diversified. At Capcom, we believe it's important to capitalize on this opportunity to boost revenue by moving beyond consoles and developing content for all types of platforms.
- - This enables you to target people who do not own a game console.
Exactly. Personal computers and cell phones have been around for a long time, but it wasn't until the last couple of years that cell phones could really be used as a game platform. The trends in hardware continuously change with the times, so it's vital that we remain flexible and adapt our content to new trends as they emerge.
- - Speaking of mobile phones, we've seen the rapid spread of smartphones over the last couple of years. How has Capcom responded to this particular development in the market?
There are three main channels through which we access the mobile content market. The first is "Beeline", which focuses predominantly on markets outside Japan. They create games that feature characters used under license, rather than drawing upon Capcom's original content. A good example of this is the game "Smurfs' Village", which has become a worldwide hit. The second is "Tokyo R&D Department", which is responsible for online social games. Although it was originally devoted to producing and running "Monster Hunter Frontier Online", the department was reorganized last year to better apply the skills they had cultivated through the running of that game. There are now around 250 people working in the department, and they support Capcom's operations in the areas of online and social gaming. Last we have the "Osaka R&D Department", which handles the development of mobile applications. Capcom utilizes and shares its console game know-how throughout the organization, and the Osaka department takes advantage of this expertise to develop the next generation of game applications for smartphones.
- - What major differences do you see between social games and conventional console games?
With console games, the marketing process pretty much comes to an end with the release of the packaged game. On the other hand, social games and online games kick off when they are launched as services. We closely monitor user trends, and use the data we obtain to regularly hold events and provide content related to the game. In addition, online services for console games are now provided on regular basis, such as extra downloadable content. This allows people to enjoy playing the game for an even longer time. Thinking about it, I guess you could say the distinction between these types of games is growing more ambiguous.
- - I see. Getting back to the two perspectives you mentioned earlier, I was wondering if you could tell us about the latter of the two.
The second one I referred to was the "region" perspective. Capcom has long emphasized the importance of the American and European markets, but now we are also trying to become a more active player in the world market. Saying that, we feel it's important for people to understand is that a global marketing strategy does not mean we attempt to sell the same title all over the world.
- - Could provide us with an example of what you're referring to?
The market of region has its own original features. Games like "Ace Attorney" and "Sengoku BASARA" have captivated the hearts of countless fans across Japan, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll enjoy the same response or do as well in other countries. On the other hand, shooters and fighting games such as "Resident Evil" and "Street Fighter", both of which have enjoyed immense popularity outside Japan. The key is to develop game titles fully adapted to the unique elements of their respective target markets, rather than endure the painful experience of setting a single standard for the global deployment of one title. When it comes to the actual development of a game, we need to accurately recognize and incorporate the tastes of gamers in each region. Likewise, before we actually release our titles in other countries, we need to conduct effective marketing in each target region. In doing our marketing, we need to address these specific questions: When should we distribute the information? What kind of information should we put out? How should we distribute this information?
- - Do you work in close coordination with your subsidiaries outside Japan?
Definitely. For example, we have a subsidiary in Vancouver (Canada) that focuses on developing titles predominantly for the American and European markets. In the Asian market, where PC (online) games are immensely popular, we're thinking about applying all the specialized know-how we've gained through "Monster Hunter Frontier Online". Working through Capcom's Taiwan office, which we just launched this summer, and our existing subsidiaries in Hong Kong and Korea, we aim to actively distribute largely online and mobile games for the Asian market. Basically, we're trying to set up a development structure capable of developing games for the Japanese market and other regions around the world.
- - Are there any other markets you've been trying to break into?
We've seen a great deal of expansion of markets in emerging countries and regions, such as Russia, Eastern Europe, South Africa, India, and the Middle East. When you combine the size of these new markets, they're about as large as the markets in major developed nations such as Germany and France. However, to successfully break into these regions, localizing our games is a must. Up until now we've only done English voiceovers for game characters, but by next year we're looking to do voiceovers in languages of 5 to 7 countries, and have the in-game text translated into 13 to 15 languages. This will give us with a major boost in the area of game localization.