Sunday, September 28, 2008

On SSR3 Marketing (Or Lack Thereof) and Rockman's Future

Shooting Star Rockman 3 is set to release in Japan in two months. That's coming up quick. Now I ask, what specifically has Capcom done to hype it's release? A website/blog, a new manga adaption, Wave Command Cards and a lone event giving away measly pieces of merchandise. That's it.

In the past, Capcom of Japan has branched out to other multiple forms of media to hype and milk these upcoming EXE/Shooting Star styled games, specifically with toys/merchandise and an annual animated television show aimed at youngsters. This marketing tactic proved incredibly successful for the past six or seven years, attracting multiple newcomers to the franchise.

Strangely, CoJ isn't following this pattern this year.

SSR3 will be released without the aid of merchandise (primarily Takara-Tomy toys) or an animated adaption (usually supplied by Xebec Inc.). To make things ever more stranger, Capcom of Japan did not outline their RM marketing strategy in their annual report. Like at all. Instead, Capcom made it apparent they shall heavily invest in the Monster Hunter series.

Has Capcom of Japan cut its partnership with Takara-Tomy, Xebec Animation and TV Tokyo after so many years?

Sure, we've still got a months worth of announcements, but usually, these marketing plans are announced mid summer. We're past that point now.

So, what's going on? Simple: The Shooting Star series is a financial failure.

Let's break it down:

-Each entry in the series has sold below expectations: SSR1 sold around 500,00 units (combined total of all three versions), Capcom had hoped to reach 700,000. (a number that was previously met by EXE series entries.)

SSR2 sold around 300,00 (both versions combined). Capcom had hoped to ship at least 600,000.

-The ten minute animated series (broadcasted on Coro Coro Comic's 'Oha! Coliseum') saw a 25% ratings drop* compared to EXE animated adaptions. Season two ('Tribe') was canceled prematurely at episode 21. (*number based upon weekly Japanese TV ratings website. Site no longer shows records of SSR ratings)

-Because the anime has done so poorly, Capcom has yet to give rights out to release either seasons on Region 2 DVD.

-I've been told Takara-Tomy lost a hefty sum of cash on SSR merchandise. In fact, it was previously reported that SSR toys were being pulled from store shelves and placed into bargain bins months after their release (Info courtesy of old PRC correspondent "Link")

When you look at the statistics all together, the SSR series isn't doing so well compared to it's predecessor. So, what has Capcom done from here? Cut back on spending.

Instead of wasting money on toys and TV shows, Capcom has invested in small methods to hype SSR3's release in hopes of gaining some sort of profit:

-Continue production of the Shooting Star manga in Coro Coro Comics. Current artists is being replaced by fan favortie artist, Ryo Takamisaki of EXE manga fame. (set to debut December)

-Continue production of the "popular" Wave Command Cards

-Produce a central hub that collects all SSR3 related news and other nooks and crannie's.

-Invest in an animated commercial produced by Production I.G (as mentioned in a SSR3 info pamphlet)

-Finally, promote Black Ace and Red Joker at the Rockman Summer Festival.

Now, it seems we've returned to the pre-EXE 4 era, the time when there were few pieces of EXE merchandise and no animated adaption. Still, Capcom did profit.

It's sad to admit we've hit a low point in Rockman's popularity in Japan...mainstream wise.

"Mainstream" refers to the group of consumers who purchase the hobby style Rockman games and related merchandise (primarily elementary school children). The mainstream (example below) doesn't give two hoots about the Original, X, DASH, Zero and ZX series. These are the folks Capcom has been catering to since the debut of the EXE series.

Upon the end of the EXE series and the debut of the SSR series, this audience began to dissipate. Slowly but surely, this audience will continue to dissipate until there are none left.

It is EXTREMELY important Capcom does not loose this audience. It's because of these new, younger fans this franchise is alive today. Without the EXE series' profits, Rockman would have become a thing of the past.

The traditional Rockman games and characters are slowly moving toward "cult" status, enjoyed only by long time fans and the hardcore. In order to keep Rockman's name in the public eye (the mainstream), Capcom must continue to support the hobby style games. I don't know how they'll do it, but they must continue to support this audience. Whether it be through the revival of the successful EXE series or the birth of a new one, Capcom cannot abandon ship.

Interestingly, the future holds a possible paradigm shift.

Rockman 9 has not only indicated fans want new entries in elder series, but also brought veteran fans back to the franchise; fans who've abandoned it because of the hobby style Rockman games.

If Capcom can successfully create new entries in older series that are accessible (possibly through download) and affordable, they can profit off of the hardcore/veteran fans once again. Who knows, if the traditional styled games become popular again, we may witness the birth of a whole new generation of fans.

Who knows what the future holds...

Sales credit: VGChartz and Capcom IR


  1. Couldn't have said it better myself. Star force 3 might mark the end of the hobby genre of Mega Man titles. It's sort of a pity, Mega Man still makes a great RPG character.

    It was bound to happen though. While barely tweaking the system for the next release might work in a non-stop action shooter like Mega Man 1 - 9, it simply can't hold for a series of 50 hour Japanese style RPGs that are heavy on the dialogue and random encounters

  2. Sorry to hear that but I am not fondly of Ryuusei no Rockman series so I am glad that the SSR3 is the last one and move on.

    I can't wait what new rockman game they are going to do for next DS. 2-D platformer, anyone ? :)

  3. That's really too bad. I absolutely love ALL Mega Man games...the more traditional platform-style games as well as both the Battle Network and Star Force games (which tend to be much easier games than the traditional platforming Mega Man games, but still unbelievably fun nonetheless). Now I kinda regret that I've emulated a lot of recent Mega Man games, although with the DS Mega Man games I didn't really have much of a choice, since I don't own a DS. =S

  4. Well, EXE(and subsequently RRNR) were created due to the Hobby anime/game craze. I think that craze is starting to subside(As the sales figures provided by this blog's owner tell us). With the success of Mega Man 9, I think we'll start to see more light hearted 2D platformers(Could Mega Man 10 be on the horizon?) and maybe even RPGs as well.(Since the serious ZX series is also on the chopping block)

    Like I said, Mega Man still makes a great RPG concept, and I'd like to see the Mega Man teams explore the genre more deeply.

    I think, however, we might be nearing another "Mega Man" dark ages. Like the short time before Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man Zero were released.

  5. I'd like a revival of the EXE series... however, due to alot of the fans' claims of "same old same old." I doubt it will happen. ;__; I just want another entry in the series.

    I can see why SSR is failing-- it's just not as cool/good. EXE is better in every regard.

    Oh, and... I'm thinking DASH sort of qualifies as a mainstream series. :D I dunno, I guess it doesn't matter, but calling EXE "mainstream" somehow degrades it.

  6. Perhaps only his X Buster knows the answer...

  7. I feel bad to hear such news. I liked Star Force and everything about it. EM and electronic waves. I feel sad that this Rockman isn't being too successful and that Capcom is letting it go without at least giving it an explosive finish. It's like it's letting it die with a whimper. And I'll be honest, Star Force Rockman is my favorite version of Rockman, next to X and Classic.

  8. XD kenichi, so it's your third favorite? XD

    This brand of pizza is the best... after this one and this one, that is.

  9. Capcom only has themselves to blame. They should have seen this happening when they released all of these carbon copy games.

    I want Megaman to be around for ever but not if the games stay at the low quality level of the .EXE and Starforce franchises.

  10. @ anonymous

    Perhaps I worded it wrong. I meant that Star Force Rockman is my favorite of all, followed by X and Classic. No need to react like that.

    And the other anonymous (If he's not the same as the one I'm responding to), I don't think EXE and Starforce are of low quality. Capcom tried something new and it worked, just seems that this type of series is starting to run out of steam unless they find a way to revive it.

  11. Since when was EXE "low quality"?

    I think Capcom is partly to blame here. They haven't exactly managed the Mega Man series excellently over the past decade or so. Making similar games year after year without any sort of break is bound to make people bored after awhile.

    Capcom's killed tons of its series, though. I mean, look at Breath of FIre.

  12. The Star Force series might not be doing as well as Capcom anticipated, but I don't think it's going anywhere. They're going to stop betting so much on it, but I can see 3 more games coming out of the franchise.

    ZX is all but dead at this point, so, a new series of platformers might be in order.

  13. I was just joking, kenichi. :D I didn't "react like that" XD


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