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A Western Initiative: Svensson On Capcom's Digital Future
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A Western Initiative: Svensson On Capcom's Digital Future

April 14, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next

Monster Hunter seems like a more difficult proposition in the west as it's very grind-oriented. Japan has a good legacy with that -- they love Dragon Quest, but…

CS: You say that, but even in the west, Monster Hunter has a fanatical, fanatical following -- ridiculously fanatical. Half the mail that we get about stuff, as big as our brands are -- we sell millions of units of other things, but half of our fan-mail and outreach from fans is about Monster Hunter. There's something about the game form that is incredibly sticky once people play it.

And grinding, let's face it, there isn't an MMO in the world that doesn't have some form of that. It's certainly not a Japanese-only phenomenon. I think there are things that we could do content-wise that would make Monster Hunter a bit more palatable to western audiences, and frankly, I think online is a huge component of that.

If you enable proper co-op through a mechanism that western audiences are comfortable with rather than being in the same room with other people, then that grinding becomes less of a chore, and more of a fun thing. It becomes a by-product of something fun to do with others.

And believe it or not, in Japan, the playing in the same room phenomenon or playing on the same bus happens, so they already have that in place and it's less of a grind. So it's a matter of stepping up on the marketing a bit and getting some of the features that we're going to need for future iterations. I'm cautiously optimistic that we're going to be able to make that happen somewhere down the line.

It certainly seems like a good downloadable/online scenario.

CS: Without getting into details, Monster Hunter Frontier in Japan is the PC version, very successful in Japan. They actually use a free-to-play -- to a point, but then you have to sub -- model. They're free to, I think, level two or so, and beyond that if you want to keep playing with that character then you've got to pay.

We've given some thought to what happens if you bring that over here, what does the model look like? And there you've got online play, which we think is so compelling for that game, and that's something we're still discussing -- we haven't reached quite the right conclusions as to how that's appropriate for western markets.

It's a tough market to get into as it's so WoW-dominated -- but Monster Hunter is different.

CS: Correct. And Monster Hunter's certainly different. In a lot of ways, I equate it to a very robust, very deep Phantasy Star Online, Phantasy Star Universe experience, that's perhaps even more kinetic than those are.

But looking at the numbers those did, it can't be the most encouraging thing.

CS: No, I agree. There are some other things we have to figure out there.

I haven't heard much about WiiWare yet -- how much have you thought about it?

CS: I'm going to lump WiiWare in with PSP e-distribution, in that we're looking for the right content first -- a lot of the content we have now isn't quite right in value or approach or interface for WiiWare.

I fully expect us to be doing some WiiWare titles very shortly in the west. I won't speak for Japan on that particular issue, but there are interesting things happening at some point there, maybe.

WiiWare has some interesting challenges in terms of interface. I shouldn't say challenges: both challenges and benefits. The controls are different and frankly we'd like to make good use of the Wii Remote. We have a couple of concepts internally that I think would be perfect for Wii, as well as other platforms.

The other part of this is we're trying to get a better handle on the online services that are going to be available to us on WiiWare. One of our hot buttons here across PC, PS3, and 360 is that we're trying for feature parity across all platforms. That's not a trivial task, especially when it comes down to user-created content.

Let's say at some time we get into clan and guild support, or other aspects of user-created content propagation, that becomes a more interesting challenge on the Wii. Does that mean we couldn't do WiiWare stuff that doesn't have feature parity? Yeah, we could do that, but we have a couple of things where we might not have to cut anything. Let's talk again next year about that.

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