Guest Column: "Analysis of the Cancellation and How It Can Be Saved"

MMN reader Omar has created an essay which looks at why he believes Mega Man Legends 3 was canceled, as well as the possibilities for its return. Mind, he did submit this to us a few days ago, and we have only now been able to post it, so there may be some parts which don't entirely account for what has happened more recently. Our bad on that one. Take it away, Omar!

Hey guys! In no way do I represent CAPCOM, but I feel that I can offer some insight as to why this may have all happened.

Why They Cancelled MML3

Let’s put aside that there is a conspiracy to hate the fans or Inafune. It’s never the goal of a publisher or company to keep products from consumers, not when there is money to be made. If we look at CAPCOM’s extensive history, you’ll find that they have milked the Mega Man franchise to the bone. So surely they wouldn’t have cancelled this game unless it was for a legitimate reason. And if the goal was to spite Inafune, the project would have gone dead as soon as Universe had.

1.) Money Talks

Money talks, guys. Some companies expect a projected amount of money from a product. Let’s compare CAPCOM to Walmart here for a moment. Walmart is the type of company that finds profit in all of the little things and caters to as many people as possible. This is how Walmart has become successful in conglomerating and controlling the product market. They sell tires, food, and video games in the same store.

CAPCOM cannot do that. They are limited to complimentary products like erasers and shirts after their video games. Therefore, they need to make things count.

Let’s put it another way. Let’s say a massage therapist began working and wanted to set his prices. He would want to make a profit, no? And surely, anything over a single dollar is a profit to his skills. But for his hard work, the massage therapist will not work for a dollar. He expects $50.00 per massage, most likely.

So what does CAPCOM expect? Surely any amount above the cost to make the game is a profit, but it may not be enough to meet their standards and keep the company going. CAPCOM, upon green lighting the project, would need to agree to pay the developers for their work, which is easily $60,000 per worker, per year. Deadlines are made for games so that the publisher, CAPCOM, does not need to pay more than is required. After the fact, we are talking about development costs anywhere between the millions and the billions. Is Mega Man Legends 3 the type of game that can earn this type of money? Can it meet CAPCOM’s ‘minimum profit range”? We will explore that below.

2.) IP v. Cult Following

Mega Man Legends is not a franchise; it is a part of a franchise. It has a cult following. Which successful games have a cult following? We cannot say Halo or Super Mario, because those are IPs and are considered popular by the general video game population. World of Goo, a downloadable for the Nintendo Wii, is a fantastic game and has a cult following for that reason. But it does not sell like Mario.

Let’s face it… not everyone likes Mega Man or even know about him. And for those of us who do, how many of us like Mega Man Legends? And for that matter, Mega Man X or Megaman.exe? We are incredibly diverse consumers with particular tastes. Of course CAPCOM would love to cater to us if these games sold and met their ‘minimum’. Unfortunately, some of these games do not sell, and that is why they discontinue. For example, Mega Man ZX and Star Force have not had sequels in a while because despite their development costs, they did not meet the minimum.

CAPCOM would love to make Mega Man sell like Mario or Call of Duty. But when they make ends meet with IPs like the recently popular Street Fighter IV and Resident Evil, why take a chance on this?

3.) Sales on the 3DS

The Nintendo 3DS was projected to be a popular device because it was made by Nintendo. That is why it was determined that MML3 would be on this hand held. But as of April 26, 2011, Nintendo only sold “3.6 million units of 3DS worldwide through the end of March” (Wired). Nintendo originally expected for the 3DS to sell “4 million hardware units and 15 million software units. . .” (1up).

The reason for this low outcome has to do with multiple factors, including: a $250 price tag, a bad American economy, popular games are few and far in between, and the supposed health risks associated with Stereoscopic 3D. CAPCOM obviously did not expect for the 3DS to perform this poorly. In fact, they probably expected it to be as successful as the original DS, which sold over 500,000 units in its first week on the market (Twice).

It is a risky move to sell a cult-classic game on a hand held that does not sell as expected. CAPCOM would much rather sell popular franchises on consoles that are constantly successful, such as the PS3 or Xbox360. The fact that many 3DS owners are complaining that there is no use to own a 3DS now that MML3 has been cancelled proves this to CAPCOM. Remember, CAPCOM is in the business to make money. Developers are in the business to make games.

How can it be saved?

I don’t mean to give false hope, but I personally can’t help but feel like this is not the end. It’s not as if development on MML3 ceased and everything was deleted. Too much work went into it, from both the developers and the fans. We have options. So in what instances can this game be saved?

· The 3DS becomes very popular, CAPCOM changes their minds · Development were to switch to another platform other than the 3DS · Another publisher picks up MML3 (Nintendo has a history of doing this for several Mega Man games) · If someone bought the rights to the Mega Man franchise from CAPCOM

I’d like to focus on that last one a bit. Should all else fail, who should buy the rights from CAPCOM? Certainly everything has a price, and no doubt the dollar sign on Mega Man’s helmet is huge. Can anyone here think of an ideal publisher with the right mindset and gusto to bring Mega Man Legends 3 back?

I’m looking at you, Inafune-san.

Sources: http://www.1up.com/news/nintendo-expects-4-million-3ds-sales-first-month http://www.twice.com/article/253370-500K_Nintendo_DS_Sales_Reported.php http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2011/04/nintendo-3ds-sales/

The above article is unedited from its original submission, save for such things as formatting to fit WordPress and italicizing game/franchise names, as per the site standard. Any opinions stated therein are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of The Mega Man Network (though that doesn't mean we disagree, either).