Last night’s announcement shouldn’t have been a surprise.
To anyone following Capcom (or the industry), last night’s revelation that Devil May Cry 4 is no longer a PlayStation 3 exclusive came with little shock. And yet, the announcement’s spawned message board threads spanning dozens and dozens of pages — half filled with celebratory remarks, the other damning Sony for losing the game. Others went so far as to accuse Capcom of dumbing the game down in the endless pursuit of money.
Thus far at least, Capcom offers little allegiance to any platform this generation. Dead Rising and Lost Planet both seemed to arrive on Xbox 360 because Capcom was willing to take a risk with Microsoft on jumping into the next-generation pool early. Even then, their zombie thriller didn’t show up until nine months after the machine launched in the US. The risks have paid off for companies like Capcom and Ubisoft (see: Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter). And, as of January, Dead Rising had sold over a million copies and talk’s already underway for sequel.
Rumors puttered about in EGM that Sony was surprised at Dead Rising’s
success and working with Capcom to secure a PS3-exclusive sequel. To
date, that’s not come to fruition and DMC4 makes it all the more
unlikely. Lost Planet found similar success when it launched in
January, allegedly pushing more than a million copies across Europe and
North America combined. The NPD Group numbers put sales for the
adventure across the frozen tundra at 329,000 in January — still
Japanese publishers have flirted with Xbox 360 because of its head
start in North America. Japan is still an important stomping ground,
but there are more dollars here. Why would Namco Bandai have given
Ridge Racer 6 to Microsoft, a historically Sony-exclusive franchise,
and then drop the almost identical Ridge Racer 7 a year later on
PlayStation 3? And, today, the publisher revealed they’re bringing the
Ace Combat series to Xbox 360 first, too, with no indication of a PS3
version. Sure, it’s probably coming, just later.
Capcom made their intentions clear from the outset with Resident Evil
5. They may have taken a gamble with Nintendo on the last outing, but
they won’t risk the marbles this time — the next sequel will arrive on
both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 simultaneously. Dead Rising and Lost
Planet were experiments to see what kind of success they could muster
by sinking some time and money into Xbox 360 (more with the latter,
given its intense marketing push) and it’s proven a successful formula.
Not that they’ve been explicitly public about the matter, either. Even
in January, rumors started circulating that DMC4 had left the
exclusivity camp, but Capcom stuck to their guns, telling Kotaku:
"Capcom does not comment on rumors. Devil May Cry 4 is exclusive to PS3. No other announcements have been made."
Yet, that’s exactly what happened last night. Microsoft is clearly
pleased, but how indicative is this of future third-party attitudes
towards support aligned with Xbox 360 and PS3? Other rumors have
suggested Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is just waiting to
be ported, and while Konami’s remained silent, so did Namco Bandai and
Capcom — originally. Boris Schneider-Johne, Xbox product manager at
Microsoft Germany, pasted the this check list on his blog in response
to the news:
1. Devil May Cry
2. Final Fantasy
3. Metal Gear Solid
Schneider-Johne quickly claimed it was only a wish list and not
representative of franchises Microsoft is actively pursuing. That
would, of course, be a lie — they would kill for them. The question’s
whether Konami and Square Enix are already taking that next step. In
the next year, we’ll find out — but try to hide your surprise.