A Lesson in How Not to Cancel a Video Game

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Posted by patrickklepek (4623 posts) -
See you later, space cowboy.

You have to wonder who at Capcom figured this week, the start of Comic-Con, was the right time to announce the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3. It was a game crafted not only for fans, players who have been waiting 11 years, but by fans, as well.

It's not like Comic-Con is, you know, an entire convention dedicated to the fandom of geek entertainment.

"We are thinking about having all of you help by participating in the development of this game in a variety of different ways," said Mega Man Legends 3 director Masakazu Eguchi when the project was announced last October. "Your efforts will help us launch the rocket we are building to rescue Mega Man! Once the rocket is launched and successfully lands on Elysium, the game all of you have been working will be complete, and will usher in the release of Mega Man Legends 3!"

An early shot from Mega Man Legends 3. The prototype content was never made clear.

Comic-Con jokes aside, Capcom shouldn't be surprised by the bitter comments and ugliness after inviting fans on day one, asking them to be part of the development process. While there was always the chance that Capcom would decide to cancel the project, nothing like this had been attempted before. It was bold. Incorporating fan feedback is one thing, but to actively solicit their ideas and build them in midstream is another.

When the project was announced, Capcom made it sound like, "Hey, this is happening! Rejoice!" At the point that you're ready charge gamers to play a prototype version of the game on eShop, expectations are set.

And yet, Capcom fell back on the "oh, development" excuse when explaining the cancellation. It rang hollow--so fans pounced.

"From the outset the MML3 Project was intended to give gamers across the world insight and input into the development process," said the company this week. "Part of this process includes an assessment of whether the title will go into full production, and is based on a number of criteria with input from different sectors of the company. Unfortunately it was not felt that the Mega Man Legends 3 Project met the required criteria, and it is with regret that we must announce that the Mega Man Legends 3 Project has been cancelled, meaning that Capcom will not be releasing the Prototype or the full game."

"Assessment [is based] on a number of criteria." "Not felt [it] met the required criteria." Those are vague explanations that are understandably infuriating for fans who had invested their own personal time into this project.

The outrage has even extended to Comic-Con, which kicked off yesterday. There were rumors floating around that Capcom wasn't allowing Mega Man cosplayers into its booth, actively kicking out anyone who violated this rumored corporate policy.

"We welcome all cosplayers to our booth at Comic-Con," the company said. "Anything else you've heard is outright false."

This is...probably not the right way to respond to fans who are feeling burned.

Adding insult to injury were the bizarre explanations from Capcom Europe's Twitter account, which insinuated the fans had not put enough enthusiasm behind the project, resulting in the decision.

"We weren't asking people to do much but response to dev rooms was cool at best," said an update last night. "It's a shame the fans didn't want to get more involved :-( if we saw there was an audience for MML3 people might change minds."

Naturally, people were pissed off. This prompted Capcom Europe to quickly roll out a more nuanced explanation.

"Seems I upset some of our friends across the pond," said the retraction. "Sorry. We're not blaming anyone. Especially those that worked so hard on the Dev room. The original comment was in relation to the interaction in the Dev rooms NOT the fans who have been nothing but supportive. [...] That was a flippant answer, it was a shame lots of people didn't get involved in Dev room to devleop [sp] the game was my point."

Here's the problem with that, though. Capcom told fans they didn't have to get involved in order to show their support for Mega Man Legends 3. The evidence is found within Capcom's own videos (scrub over to 1:55):

Oh, okay! Except that's not true at all, if you believe Capcom Europe's line about Mega Man Legends 3.

Of course, the president of Capcom is not managing Capcom Europe's Twitter--it's the community team. The hyperbolic response and ensuing dogpile was a reaction to Capcom's unsatisfactory answers for why the game would never see the light of day.

Confusion over how to respond to Mega Man fans spilled over to Capcom USA, too, with vice president of strategic planning and business development Christian Svensson taking to the Capcom Unity message boards, unable to explain what happened on the Capcom Europe Twitter account.

"As far as the Capcom Europe thing, I'm not sure what that's about," said Svensson. "I do know that the European fanbase for MM [Mega Man] in general is far smaller than NA [North America] or Japan."

Capcom USA's Twitter account never referenced the comments by Capcom Europe. In fact, it never mentioned Mega Man Legend 3's cancellation at all.

Mega Man Universe, aka LittleBigMegaMan, was shown at Tokyo Game Show, then cancelled.

Svensson seemed to be grasping at straws to provide fans with hope regarding Capcom's plans, as the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 comes not long after the cancellation of Mega Man Universe.

"I wish I had some other nugget of MM news to share for you guys to get excited about (we had Legends to focus on when we cancelled Universe) but I'm really at a loss," he continued. "I've got nothing I can share right now. I know it seems difficult to believe (and I expect loads of neg[ative] comments after this because of that lack of information) but MM is still really important to the company as a brand."

The official line from Capcom offered little to cling to.

"Mega Man is still an important franchise within Capcom’s portfolio and we will continue to pursue opportunities to create new titles in the series," said the company.

Svensson did confirm the fan and media anger had been vocalized to Capcom Japan during his most recent weekly meeting with higher-ups, but Svensson did not indicate what, if any, kind of response he'd gotten.

Bummer feelings extended to the development community, too. Skullgirls developer Reverge Labs poked fun at Capcom Europe's insinuations regarding fan interaction and the vocal disappointment the game would never come to fruition.

"They’ll never get to play Mega Man Legends 3 because, you know, the fans didn’t make enough art or program enough of the engine," cracked the studio on its blog. "Stupid fans--here’s some art to make you feel bad for what you didn’t do."

And, lo, a single tear did run down Mega Man's cheek, upon hearing the cancellation news.

Even series co-creator Keiji Inafune couldn't help but chime in on the cancellation of the game. Mega Man Legends 3 is a game Inafune had been pushing for at Capcom for years. Inafune left the company in late October, just weeks after the initial reveal.

"The decision for the cancelation was out of my sphere, but as someone who took part in the development," he said on his personal blog, translated by Andriasang, "I'd like to convey something to the staff: I'm sorry that I couldn't be of assistance."

Inafune launched his new company, Comcept, in December of last year.

"I'm truly sorry I couldn't take part through the end," he added. "I didn't buy a 3DS for this project, but at the very least I'd like to have played the demo."

Players probably would love that, too, but Capcom has already said no.

Mega Man 10 was the last major Mega Man release. Mega Man Online, an online MMO not being developed internally at Capcom, is scheduled for sometime this year. It has not been confirmed for release outside Korea.

If you'd like to show your support, there's a Facebook group called "100,000 Strong for Bringing Back Mega Man Legends 3" that's well on its way to passing 10,000 likes on the social network.

Staff
#1 Posted by patrickklepek (4623 posts) -
See you later, space cowboy.

You have to wonder who at Capcom figured this week, the start of Comic-Con, was the right time to announce the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3. It was a game crafted not only for fans, players who have been waiting 11 years, but by fans, as well.

It's not like Comic-Con is, you know, an entire convention dedicated to the fandom of geek entertainment.

"We are thinking about having all of you help by participating in the development of this game in a variety of different ways," said Mega Man Legends 3 director Masakazu Eguchi when the project was announced last October. "Your efforts will help us launch the rocket we are building to rescue Mega Man! Once the rocket is launched and successfully lands on Elysium, the game all of you have been working will be complete, and will usher in the release of Mega Man Legends 3!"

An early shot from Mega Man Legends 3. The prototype content was never made clear.

Comic-Con jokes aside, Capcom shouldn't be surprised by the bitter comments and ugliness after inviting fans on day one, asking them to be part of the development process. While there was always the chance that Capcom would decide to cancel the project, nothing like this had been attempted before. It was bold. Incorporating fan feedback is one thing, but to actively solicit their ideas and build them in midstream is another.

When the project was announced, Capcom made it sound like, "Hey, this is happening! Rejoice!" At the point that you're ready charge gamers to play a prototype version of the game on eShop, expectations are set.

And yet, Capcom fell back on the "oh, development" excuse when explaining the cancellation. It rang hollow--so fans pounced.

"From the outset the MML3 Project was intended to give gamers across the world insight and input into the development process," said the company this week. "Part of this process includes an assessment of whether the title will go into full production, and is based on a number of criteria with input from different sectors of the company. Unfortunately it was not felt that the Mega Man Legends 3 Project met the required criteria, and it is with regret that we must announce that the Mega Man Legends 3 Project has been cancelled, meaning that Capcom will not be releasing the Prototype or the full game."

"Assessment [is based] on a number of criteria." "Not felt [it] met the required criteria." Those are vague explanations that are understandably infuriating for fans who had invested their own personal time into this project.

The outrage has even extended to Comic-Con, which kicked off yesterday. There were rumors floating around that Capcom wasn't allowing Mega Man cosplayers into its booth, actively kicking out anyone who violated this rumored corporate policy.

"We welcome all cosplayers to our booth at Comic-Con," the company said. "Anything else you've heard is outright false."

This is...probably not the right way to respond to fans who are feeling burned.

Adding insult to injury were the bizarre explanations from Capcom Europe's Twitter account, which insinuated the fans had not put enough enthusiasm behind the project, resulting in the decision.

"We weren't asking people to do much but response to dev rooms was cool at best," said an update last night. "It's a shame the fans didn't want to get more involved :-( if we saw there was an audience for MML3 people might change minds."

Naturally, people were pissed off. This prompted Capcom Europe to quickly roll out a more nuanced explanation.

"Seems I upset some of our friends across the pond," said the retraction. "Sorry. We're not blaming anyone. Especially those that worked so hard on the Dev room. The original comment was in relation to the interaction in the Dev rooms NOT the fans who have been nothing but supportive. [...] That was a flippant answer, it was a shame lots of people didn't get involved in Dev room to devleop [sp] the game was my point."

Here's the problem with that, though. Capcom told fans they didn't have to get involved in order to show their support for Mega Man Legends 3. The evidence is found within Capcom's own videos (scrub over to 1:55):

Oh, okay! Except that's not true at all, if you believe Capcom Europe's line about Mega Man Legends 3.

Of course, the president of Capcom is not managing Capcom Europe's Twitter--it's the community team. The hyperbolic response and ensuing dogpile was a reaction to Capcom's unsatisfactory answers for why the game would never see the light of day.

Confusion over how to respond to Mega Man fans spilled over to Capcom USA, too, with vice president of strategic planning and business development Christian Svensson taking to the Capcom Unity message boards, unable to explain what happened on the Capcom Europe Twitter account.

"As far as the Capcom Europe thing, I'm not sure what that's about," said Svensson. "I do know that the European fanbase for MM [Mega Man] in general is far smaller than NA [North America] or Japan."

Capcom USA's Twitter account never referenced the comments by Capcom Europe. In fact, it never mentioned Mega Man Legend 3's cancellation at all.

Mega Man Universe, aka LittleBigMegaMan, was shown at Tokyo Game Show, then cancelled.

Svensson seemed to be grasping at straws to provide fans with hope regarding Capcom's plans, as the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 comes not long after the cancellation of Mega Man Universe.

"I wish I had some other nugget of MM news to share for you guys to get excited about (we had Legends to focus on when we cancelled Universe) but I'm really at a loss," he continued. "I've got nothing I can share right now. I know it seems difficult to believe (and I expect loads of neg[ative] comments after this because of that lack of information) but MM is still really important to the company as a brand."

The official line from Capcom offered little to cling to.

"Mega Man is still an important franchise within Capcom’s portfolio and we will continue to pursue opportunities to create new titles in the series," said the company.

Svensson did confirm the fan and media anger had been vocalized to Capcom Japan during his most recent weekly meeting with higher-ups, but Svensson did not indicate what, if any, kind of response he'd gotten.

Bummer feelings extended to the development community, too. Skullgirls developer Reverge Labs poked fun at Capcom Europe's insinuations regarding fan interaction and the vocal disappointment the game would never come to fruition.

"They’ll never get to play Mega Man Legends 3 because, you know, the fans didn’t make enough art or program enough of the engine," cracked the studio on its blog. "Stupid fans--here’s some art to make you feel bad for what you didn’t do."

And, lo, a single tear did run down Mega Man's cheek, upon hearing the cancellation news.

Even series co-creator Keiji Inafune couldn't help but chime in on the cancellation of the game. Mega Man Legends 3 is a game Inafune had been pushing for at Capcom for years. Inafune left the company in late October, just weeks after the initial reveal.

"The decision for the cancelation was out of my sphere, but as someone who took part in the development," he said on his personal blog, translated by Andriasang, "I'd like to convey something to the staff: I'm sorry that I couldn't be of assistance."

Inafune launched his new company, Comcept, in December of last year.

"I'm truly sorry I couldn't take part through the end," he added. "I didn't buy a 3DS for this project, but at the very least I'd like to have played the demo."

Players probably would love that, too, but Capcom has already said no.

Mega Man 10 was the last major Mega Man release. Mega Man Online, an online MMO not being developed internally at Capcom, is scheduled for sometime this year. It has not been confirmed for release outside Korea.

If you'd like to show your support, there's a Facebook group called "100,000 Strong for Bringing Back Mega Man Legends 3" that's well on its way to passing 10,000 likes on the social network.

Staff
#2 Posted by EtherealSlayer (82 posts) -

word

#3 Posted by Rekka (21 posts) -

Heh! Poor Megaman

#4 Posted by rmanthorp (3949 posts) -

FACEBOOK FANS DECIDE THE FATE OF ALL GAMES! QUICKLY EVERYONE LIKE LINCOLN FORCE GAME AND BY MAGIC IT WILL RELEASE 100,000 FANS GOGOGO

Moderator
#5 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8699 posts) -

What is it with big companies and forsaking/abusing their old mascots that made them big in the first place?
 
The hell.

#6 Posted by Lemoncookie01 (1667 posts) -

If Capcom releases Megaman X9,I'll forgive them.

#7 Posted by catpowerd (153 posts) -

It baffles me that that there are still people who care about Megaman in 2011.

#8 Posted by TimesHero (685 posts) -

Derp.

#9 Posted by Hairy_Fish (366 posts) -

That's shit. Would have loved to see how that turned out.

#10 Posted by Daveyo520 (6761 posts) -

People are getting way too pissed about this. 

#11 Posted by Rolyatkcinmai (2687 posts) -

I have never and probably will never care about MM, but this seems like a project a lot of people cared about. It's a shame to see it end like this.

#12 Posted by modeps (96 posts) -

Hey, Mega Man Universe was cancelled because it was bad. We played it at NYCC 10. Real bad.

#13 Edited by Krakn3Dfx (2490 posts) -

This is how I felt when they never made a sequel to Bagman.

And you can't count Super Bagman.

#14 Posted by Nexas (630 posts) -

This game seemed dire from day 1. The weird fan involvement, Inafune's departure, and the paid demo all screamed that Capcom had no idea what the fuck they were doing. Canceling the game was probably for the best, but they probably should have waited until after Comic-con.

#15 Posted by heatDrive88 (2339 posts) -

@TaliciaDragonsong said:

What is it with big companies and forsaking/abusing their old mascots that made them big in the first place? The hell.

It's pretty simple. They ran the numbers. They looked at business assets and resources available. Unfortunately, it just didn't add up and the return was either low, or highly unpredictable.

They sort of forgot about using a little tact unfortunately, but to be fair I wasn't even aware people enjoyed anything Mega Man Legends. I thought Mega Man Universe was a cool idea, but oh well.

#16 Edited by Chris2KLee (2336 posts) -

Great article. I wasn't looking forward to MM Legends 3, but following the process over on Capcom Unity was interesting. Why they didn't release the prototype version to gauge interest seems strange, unless the game was a complete pile of flaming garbage. The CapcomEuro account threw some needless fuel on the fire. Capcom as a company seems to be drifting this year. So far it seems the biggest titles in 2011 are remixes of previous games (SSF4:Arcade, Ultimate MvC3 and DR2 Off the Record). At least they have Monster Hunter.

#17 Posted by buft (3317 posts) -

Like my status and i will learn to program real good like and make a game. also will need you to do art and purchase some sort of engine for me.

#18 Posted by 234r2we232 (3181 posts) -

Is it possible for a GB article that isn't sensationalised beyond readability? :( 

#19 Posted by Deathpooky (1402 posts) -

That's some serious hamfisted handling of the cancellation, though surprising that Europe caused most of the hamfisting instead of Japan. Canceling a game and then blaming the fans is a pretty good way to piss off those who might still have stuck around. But it's hard to muster much of anything given that I remember Mega Man Legends 1 to be a pretty disappointing game.

#20 Posted by endaround (2145 posts) -
@catpowerd said:

It baffles me that that there are still people who care about Megaman in 2011.

Yeah that's like those who hold out hope for a new Street Fighter game or a new Mortal Kombat game!  Don't they know fighting games are dead?
#21 Posted by subatomicpizza (18 posts) -

I wouldn't be surprised if Inafune has some rights to megaman or gets royalties for anything megaman related and Capcom don't want to give him money.

#22 Posted by Jolt92 (1551 posts) -

Unless this game was a complete trainwreck, they fucked up.

I was looking forward to this game.

#23 Posted by Masha2932 (1241 posts) -

It was a good idea in theory but unfortunately it didn't work out in practice. As they say, too many cooks spoil the broth.

#24 Posted by Hailinel (24809 posts) -

@Nexas said:

This game seemed dire from day 1. The weird fan involvement, Inafune's departure, and the paid demo all screamed that Capcom had no idea what the fuck they were doing. Canceling the game was probably for the best, but they probably should have waited until after Comic-con.

Fans have a long history of involvement in Mega Man. Capcom solicited ideas for Robot Masters in the NES Mega Man titles. Even a couple of western concepts made it into Mega Man VI.

#25 Posted by rargy (437 posts) -

They wanted help from the fans? Fax me the code, i'll take a look at it.

#26 Posted by Skooky (476 posts) -

I guess this is the part where I apologize for being a terrible fan.

#27 Posted by Chicken008 (367 posts) -

Canceled it cause they can't re hash and release another version of the game 9 months later like Street Fighter or MvC3. Nor can would have put out DLC.

#28 Posted by navyboy (84 posts) -

For god's sake Capcom, you're a game company. You're job is to make games. You produce a product and then the fans buy it. You do not need to ask for support from the fans, if you want to, that's fine but don't complain when you don't receive it. Plus to add insult to injury you announce a day or two after the cancellation Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom, a $40 dollar game that has 12 new characters. The original game hasn't even been out for 7 months yet, geez.

#29 Posted by AlexanderSheen (5008 posts) -

Nice Cowboy Bebop reference.

#30 Edited by dirkfunk (175 posts) -

Couldn't Capcom just cancel it and shut up?
 
Stop placing blame, especially on your "fans." Why not just come out and be honest? It wasn't feasible economically to continue the project. 
 
Because it's obviously feasible to rerererelease Resident Evil 4 and yet another rehash of another rehashed fighter.

#31 Posted by Zapbrader (174 posts) -

If they announce any kind of Mega Man game what-so-ever in the next 6 to 8 months, I'll be surprised. I know it doesn't matter whether or not Inafune is in charge of the project, I'm just finding it hard to believe recently if Capcom feels the franchise is worth making games for anymore, despite what they've said otherwise.

#32 Posted by MEATBALL (3242 posts) -

I can't help but feel there's a nugget of truth to the comments made on Capcom Europe's twitter feed. The trouble with this kind of project is that, as far as I can tell, Capcom haven't really done anything to cultivate Mega Man's fanbase (and I would consider Legends a smaller subset of those fans) over the last decade. If they were hoping for a stronger fan response to the project they were always going to be disappointed.

It would be one thing for say Bungie or Valve - developers that have done an outstanding job cultivating their biggest fans - to attempt something like this, but if Capcom were relying on fan response to this project to keep it afloat they were always going to find themselves underwhelmed.

#33 Posted by sirdesmond (1241 posts) -

Interesting article. Good stuff as always, Patrick.

Mega Man Universe sounded awesome. It's a shame they canceled that title, and although I'm not a fan of the 3D Mega Man titles, it is pretty apparent that there were tons of people looking forward to that. Crappy news is crappy.

#34 Posted by HarlequinRiot (1098 posts) -
@dirkfunk said:
Couldn't Capcom just cancel it and shut up?  Stop placing blame, especially on your "fans." Why not just come out and be honest? It wasn't feasible economically to continue the project.   Because it's obviously feasible to rerererelease Resident Evil 4 and yet another rehash of another rehashed fighter.
Yea this is what I don't get. Obviously they cancelled it because it was either going to cost them too much or because they didn't think it would sell well, so I don't know why they just wouldn't say that. It's what everyone else does. 
#35 Posted by Twisted_Scot (1177 posts) -

Ah so this is what happens after Duke. Well now I cant wait for Megaman Forever.

#36 Posted by WJist (313 posts) -

Long story short: Zenny.

#37 Posted by Applederp (116 posts) -

All Capcom wants to do is rerererelease the same goddamn Resident Evil games, the same goddamn Street Fighter games, and now they're rereleasing Dead Rising 2 and MvC3
 
I refuse to give them any of my money now.

#38 Posted by AzHP (156 posts) -

If you guys think the first responses from Capcom Euro are fucked up, take a look at this post from neogaf which takes the best quotes from their twitter and screencaps them for all to see. What the fuck, how can you hire such incompetent people to run your twitter? http://neogaf.net/forum/showthread.php?t=437748

#39 Posted by Nexas (630 posts) -
@Hailinel Well that explains why most Mega Man bosses are really dumb, but I'm assuming relegated fan designs to one or two bosses per game. Legends 3 seemed to be going way overboard with fan involvement. "Design the main girl! Design the enimies! Design Mega Man's codpiece!"
Fan involvement at level would ended up with the gaming equivalent of the Homer car.
#40 Posted by Sammo21 (3276 posts) -

Capcom doesn't know how to handle their shit. They have Trolno in charge of Street Fighter and practically all related games, so that tells you something in and of itself.

#41 Edited by nmarchan (173 posts) -

Over the last couple years, Capcom has become a TERRIBLE company. They're as terrible as they ever were in the 90s about releasing a million versions of all their fighting games. The fact that they have another version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 coming out in the SAME YEAR as the original game is insane. They take an extra mode out of the last two Resident Evil games, re-use all the same content without making new stuff, and charge forty dollars for it. They gouge players with terrible DLC prices. They put garbage DRM schemes on their downloadable games and PC titles. They're about to charge 40 bucks for a tweaked version of Dead Rising 2 with a bunch of also recycled content. Then they go and pull something like this?

Insane.

#42 Posted by Make_Me_Mad (3091 posts) -

On the plus side, now I definitely don't need a 3DS.

#43 Posted by paulunga (2018 posts) -

@Rufi91 said:

FACEBOOK FANS DECIDE THE FATE OF ALL GAMES! QUICKLY EVERYONE LIKE LINCOLN FORCE GAME AND BY MAGIC IT WILL RELEASE 100,000 FANS GOGOGO

But I don't have a Facbook. :(

#45 Posted by Lotus (208 posts) -

 

=(
#46 Posted by aurahack (2271 posts) -

Man, what a fucking bummer. :/

#47 Posted by Silver-Streak (1359 posts) -

I'll post here what I said about this earlier:

God Damnit.

#48 Posted by Ramone (2966 posts) -

@AzHP said:

If you guys think the first responses from Capcom Euro are fucked up, take a look at this post from neogaf which takes the best quotes from their twitter and screencaps them for all to see. What the fuck, how can you hire such incompetent people to run your twitter? http://neogaf.net/forum/showthread.php?t=437748

Holy shit that last quote would be fucking hilarious if it wasn't so depressing.

#49 Posted by Geralt (322 posts) -

Internet petition in 2011? Wow, the people never learn :1

#50 Posted by TadThuggish (907 posts) -

These large Japanese companies that were vying for our attention 20 years ago sure got fucking lazy, didn't they?

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