Two of the biggest rivals in the beat ‘em up genre also happen to be best of friends. Christopher Dring discovers how Capcom and Namco Bandai are working together to grow the fighting genre for everyone...
The showdown between Call of Duty and Battlefield last year got nasty.
The war of words between Activision and EA encouraged players to pick sides. It was Call of Duty or Battlefield. A fight to the death. One game would live whilst the other, in the words of EA CEO John Riccitiello, would ‘rot from the core.’
Yet it didn’t have to be that way.
Capcom and Namco are the EA and Activision of the beat ‘em up world. Street Fighter and Tekken are the biggest names in the genre, and both publishers like nothing more than to outperform the other.
Yet the difference here is that the two Japanese firms also happen to be friends.
“A part of it is down to the producers [Tekken’s Katsuhiro Harada and Street Fighter’s Yoshinori Ono] who are clearly good mates,” says Capcom’s UK head of marketing Stuart Turner.
“You can’t imagine two other competitive firms doing this. It’s something we’ve tried to tap into with the marketing, but it started before then, when they used to pull pranks on one another.”
Indeed, Harada-san and Ono-san actively appear in each other’s TV ads. A recent Japanese promo video for Tekken on 3DS featured the two producers battling it out in Ono-san’s office. And both men have travelled the world to compete at everything, from wrestling to eating contests.
But why promote each other’s games?
“We work closely with Capcom to extend the franchises,” explains Namco Bandai’s UK marketing director Lee Kirton.
“I hope we work closely with them in the future whilst still being able to kick their ass from time to time.”
Street Fighter producer Ono-san adds: “It helps to team up with another huge franchise to increase the appeal of the genre to all sorts of people. Through this ‘festive’ atmosphere I hope we can bring more players into the genre.”
Turner says a lot of it comes down to the fans: “It’s not quite so nasty as in other genres. You’ll get people who prefer one game over another but there is a huge group that plays them all.”
Capcom PR director Ben LeRougetel adds: “You don’t want to be divisive and split-off people. You want to bring people together and grow the fighting genre, whether it is our game or theirs.”
FIGHT CLUB RULES
The crossover of fans has led Capcom and Namco to team up on a series of Fight Clubs, which travel the UK showing off the latest and upcoming brawlers.
The publishers even used the Fight Club to stage a major Christmas event in support of GamesAid.
“Capcom’s Fight Club brand is great and it was the main reason we wanted to do a charity event,” says Kirton. “We raised over £6,500.”
Turner continues: “Our Fight Clubs and games like Street Fighter X Tekken are an olive branch, us going ‘we are all in this together.’ It is great that Lee’s team over at Namco is so open to it. I think the GamesAid event that raised all that money kind of sums up these games quite nicely.”
THE BIG SHOWDOWN
The friendly rivalry between these two iconic beat ‘em ups reached a new height last week with the launch of Capcom’s Street Fighter X Tekken, which is the first in two crossover titles. The next game, Tekken X Street Fighter, is being created by Namco.
Ono-San concludes: “These games promote the genre to a whole new group who have never touched a fighting game before, or last played one years ago. We hope to grow fighting game communities across the globe, and get more casual players involved as well. By expanding the user base, I believe players and game makers alike will benefit in the end.”