Capcom Left Money On the Table With Okami HD

Capcom has convinced themselves Okami HD and 4K is more important than Okami HD on Switch.

4K is the future. It is the natural graphical progression for consoles and we are on the doorstep. Affordable 4K TV options are limited, but it is a future to look forward to. So it is natural that console makers -- like Microsoft and Sony -- to position themselves for that future. However, it is not natural for developers to dive in the pool with them just because it is available. The consumer market is hardly buying into 4K TV's yet. But Capcom is releasing Okami HD, a PS2 game, as a Xbox One, PS4 and PC remake with 4K support and sacrificing the Nintendo Switch. That is odd.

Okami was on the Wii, a console that by today's standards barely had HD. It was also on the PlayStation 3, a console that could output HD. We are in a time where this game could be on all consoles, and here is Capcom -- in the midst of financial struggles -- not taking advantage of that.

We know Nintendo's previous missteps with the Wii and Wii U hardware. The Wii was heavily underpowered compared to the Xbox 360 and PS3, and the Wii U was, and is, underpowered compared to Xbox One and PS4. Both times developers said "no" to the consoles because porting would take too much time, resources, and money. The Switch? Same problem. But this is Okami HD. An HD game not on an HD console. An HD game that would not require the same resources demanded by, for example, a high-powered Unreal Engine game.

By forgoing the Switch, Capcom suggests 4K is worth more than the Switch; a console that has a game of the year contender on it, without stunning 3840 x 2160 graphics; a console that is already on track to put the Wii U to shame. They are willing to spend more money giving this game 4K support and not putting it on the Switch. Capcom essentially believes if they do not make Okami HD with 4K support, people will not buy it. 

This is not about longevity, either. We are past the point where a game like Okami will look bad in 1080p. It would be crisper in 4K, but does anyone really believe that Okami, beautiful by PS2 standards, will look bad in 1080p in 15 years?

We do have to think about cost of development for Switch. How many people own a Switch and a PS4 or Xbox One? If you wanted Okami, would it be on the Switch or one of the other consoles? Now Capcom has to figure out if the number of people who would want Okami on Switch is worth developing the Switch version. Nintendo has sold nearly 5 million Switch units. That is almost half of the Wii U in its first year. Is Capcom suggesting people would not want the possibility of playing their HD version on the go?

No wonder Capcom is in the financial situation they are in. They make odd decisions like developing Resident Evil: Revelations on the Switch; but not Okami HD. They are at the point where they are fumbling with one of their prized franchises in Marvel vs Capcom. They spent years misunderstanding the Resident Evil franchise and its audience. Now they are misunderstanding the importance of 4K.

Okami's not even a game that has to be in 4K. I am not saying it would not look better if this game were released in 4K, but no one would bear pitchforks and torches if it were not. So it comes off as a Japanese company pandering to the western audience that "adores" shiny graphics. Okami was beautiful as a PS2 game. It was beautiful as a PS3 game. It will continue to be beautiful on every console forward. 

But Capcom has spoken. Apparently, they do not want the money. Okami will be released on Xbox One and PS4 and their 4K counterparts, and the PC. So whose 4K TV are we playing on?

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Published Sep. 22nd 2017

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