Capcom Plants Its Flag

By Jonathan Barnes, 5 years ago
Yesterday, we showed off a new trailer for Capcom's upcoming action-adventure game, Remember Me. This, in and of itself, is not a huge story, the trailer is nice and the game looks like it could be a real winner. That being said, the real meat of this news is buried in the final sentence:

Remember Me is set to release on June 4th in North America and June 7th in Europe.
That's right, gamers, Capcom is taking a shot on a summer release for a hot, new IP.

For far too long, publishers have held on to the notion of the European Holiday and the assumption that everyone spends their summers on vacation at a beach or other destination away from their gaming consoles. As such, from the beginning of June to the beginning of September, you’ll be hard pressed to find many quality new releases and hardcore gamers generally use this time to dig into their backlog, play downloadable titles, or hunt the bargain rack for games they may have missed from the annual glut of new releases that tends to peak around the holiday season.

What’s truly tragic is the fact that most publishers have gotten wise to the fact that the holiday/fall window tends to be “blockbuster” season and have begun to move around titles that fall just short of blockbuster status. This movement has done nothing but create a second gorging window in January/February (and now into March) when all of those slightly-less-anticipated titles find their post-holiday homes.

Market analysts will be quick to point to strong holiday sales as being the reason for the psychotic nature of the fall. This idea does have merit, but doesn’t shield from the fact that the fall tends to be dominated by the annual Call of Duty release and a bi-annual Halo title. After that, seemingly every other title is fighting for third place. I would postulate that those runners-up would find more success if they were evenly distributed through the year when they weren’t put up against the sharks of Activision and Microsoft.

One needs to look no further than Rockstar to see that success can (easily) be found out of the traditional fall window. In this generation, the house that GTA built has largely succeeded in carving out the April/May period as their time for big releases and has done incredibly well with their mid-spring launch date (Grand Theft Auto IV launched in April of 2008, Red Dead Redemption launched in May of 2010, L.A. Noire launched in May of 2011, and Max Payne 3 launched in May of 2012). In my opinion, Rockstar’s propensity for marking their spring turf shows that the summer season is just waiting for a game developer/publisher to come, plant their proverbial flag, and claim it as theirs.

That being said, many gamers and analysts were shocked when Rockstar's next big thing, Grand Theft Auto V, moved out of their Spring 2013 window and into the (more-traditional) fall release season. This departure not only cluttered up what looks to be an absolutely insane fall (with new consoles, IPs, and inevitable sequels on the way) but created a void in that sweet, sweet early summer window.

Enter Capcom and Remember Me. June has traditionally been either a dumping grounds for crap, movie tie-in games, arcade titles (which have been getting much better), or simply a wasteland of nothing. A savvy gamer can look at Capcom's decision to push a new IP during the summer season in the last year of a console cycle one of two ways:

1- Capcom has an incredible amount of faith that this game is going to be fantastic and will find a broad audience.

2- Capcom has zero faith in this game and is trying to get it out before the new consoles launch.

I, for one, tend to be in the former category. The amount of resources that get put into the development of a new IP is massive and especially risky at the end of a console cycle. Capcom would have had plenty of time to push Remember Me back to a next-gen launch, but instead went with the bold decision to keep it on the 360/PS3 and launch it during a time period that was just begging for a quality game.

Time will tell whether or not Remember Me finds an audience, but I'm hoping it does if only to reaffirm that gamers are willing to buy new games in the summer and hopefully spread out a release schedule that's all-too fat from October-March and far too thin from April-September.
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.