What the Smurf has been making Capcom money? (Hint: it's Smurfs)

When you hear “Capcom,” you might think of SFIV's bank of hard-to-master characters, or Ghouls 'n' Ghosts' “Surprise! Do it all over again!” fake-out, or most anything with Mega Man in the title. But Capcom's best performer over the last six months hasn't come from any of its stable of legendarily testing franchises: it's been the company's fast-growing Facebook/mobile division, in particular kid-ready crowd-pleaser The Smurfs' Village.

You thought the past six months were tough for fans of Mega Man, who had two titles scrapped this year? Try being the company making those kind of decisions, particularly when revenue is down 28% from this time last year and net profits have dropped from ¥1.78 billion ($23.41 million) to ¥906 million ($11.91 million). The company's best earner hasn't been any of the sectors making the titles you probably know it for: it's the Mobile Content division, which posted an 89% total revenue gain. Capcom attributes much of Mobile Content's ¥2.58 billion ($33.93 million) earnings to The Smurfs Village, calling this the “driving force” of its overall financial results.

Capcom's Mobile division also publishes titles like Capcom Arcade, which repackages games such as Final Fight and Street Fighter II for mobile players. But it's youth-oriented titles like Smurfs Village that make the division profitable. The free-play title, accessible on Facebook or mobile devices, earlier this year had senators asking the FTC to investigate the incorporation of microtransactions into kid-focused games, after a Maryland mother was hit with $1400 of charges racked up by her daughter on the game. In response, Capcom added warnings to the iTunes store and within games like Smurfs Village.

Above: Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D racked up a competent score, but couldn't hold off the clamoring hordes of mobile Smurf fans

Capcom says entries in its more traditional franchises such as Resident Evil and Monster Hunter performed “solidly,” and that the latest Street Fighter IV iteration, Arcade Edition, “basically achieved” the company's sales targets. However, factors such as a strong Yen, weak international stock prices and the March earthquake damaged the performance of these established earners. At the same time, rapid technological and financial growth in the mobile and social-gaming arenas put Mobile Content in a good position to save the company's fortunes. So when you're playing Street Fighter X Tekken online next year, remember to take a moment and thank the little blue dorks who helped make it all possible...

Oct 26, 2011

Source: GamesIndustry.biz, Metro