Why have you decided to return to the games industry and take your new position at Capcom Europe?
When I retired from Sony, I did what I said I would do and I have been working with a lot of charities – specifically St John’s Ambulance where I am a trustee and SENSE, the deaf-blind society.
But Capcom asked me to do a bit of consulting for them as they were looking at restructuring and expanding in Europe. During that process I got on with them very well and they asked me to execute the plan I had laid out for them. They also agreed I could continue to do the charity work I do now, which made it all quite attractive to me.
And they are great people at Capcom, they are gamers through and through – it’s very exciting to work with them.
Can you elaborate on the plan you laid out for Capcom?
It was about what titles to go for, which countries to expand into, and how quickly we move into the era in which games are network delivered, looking at the detail of greenlight process, and to some extent the structure of the people in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Capcom has had mixed success with Western projects in the past. What’s your view on this? And what will change moving forward?
Capcom will not change its DNA – it will be very true to the games it knows it can deliver. But at the same time we are looking for opportunities, particularly in the USA and Europe, where we can make an impact with games developed in-house but of the top quality.
Many Capcom games are developed internally, but there has been a drive to find Western games. Is this still on the agenda?
I don’t work on the development side, but Capcom chooses developers that are like-minded, and we want to maintain quality and produce games for fast pranchises, or new franchises that fit with the likes of Resident Evil or Street Fighter. But I don’t think Capcom will branch out into areas like social gaming or anything like that.
Capcom is one of the businesses that work with studios all over the world, but cherry picks the talent to work on games, or part of games.
You mentioned that DLC is part of the strategy. What’s your plan?
Capcom hasn’t been reluctant to go digital in the past – but hasn’t really embraced the model where you release a game and keep it going every three months with DLC. They need to get into that and market the great IPs that we have digitally as well as we do on disc. That’s what’s we’re looking at.
Capcom has worked on updated re-releases of Street Fighter IV and Resident Evil 5, does this help bridge the gap to more DLC activity?
Yes. It took them a while to embrace it – Capcom has seen how its various contemporaries in the industry have been very profitable adding DLC, or doing whole games as DLC, can be.
When you were at Sony, we talked a few times about digital overtaking discs at somepoint. Does Capcom have to be ready for the change?
Yes and I think the company will admit it has been a tiny bit behind the curve in that sense. But we are catching up rapidly. We plan to invest in that area not only in the technology but also the people who market those things.
Does that mean an expansion of the personnel at Capcom Europe?
Not necessarily – the people at Capcom are already first class. It’s just a case of pointing them in the right direction for the future. Whereas before operations were run out of the US, now it’s Europe for Europe.
Will part of that involve you having to grow things like market share? Or, in the digital era, are those retail-centric market numbers not totally relevant to your plans?
I think the market share in the retail trade is relevant. Our market share is currently about two per cent now and we want to double that over the next four to five years.
But we have to keep pace in digital where Capcom probably doesn’t even have a two percent market share. That’s where the emphasis will have to be.
We’ve seen a lot of Japanese companies expand into Europe recently. Why do you feel that is?
88 per cent of the games business is in the US and Europe combined, while 12 to 15 per cent is in Japan. So the concentration has to be in the West.
What you can’t do is set up huge operations in all these European countries when you know that within five or six years time we will be in the digital era.
So it has to be a very balanced approach – a similar approach to what some of the Japanese firms have taken so far. It has taken Square Enix a while to expand, for instance.
A lot of those successes rely on the localisation of those titles and managing that well – something I saw can be very valuable in my time at Sony.