Mega Man: What Took So Long

 

After all the waiting and complaining, Capcom finally announced a brand new Mega Man game: Mega Man 11. The announcement has been overwhelmingly positive. So why did it take so long? I’m sure some folks just expected it was simply incompetence. Understandable, as Capcom has dropped the ball with its fair share of titles. However, the reason for the hiatus is due to the simple fact that Mega Man isn’t as successful as you think it is.

First, here’s a look at Capcom’s major franchises taken from their Investor Relations website. This includes the franchise sales, number of titles released, and the average sales for each game (taken as franchise sales divided by number of titles released)

Franchise sales (millions) No. of titles released Average Sales (millions)
Resident Evil 80 119 0.67
Street Fighter 40 84 0.48
Monster Hunter 40 38 1.05
Mega Man 32 136 0.23
Devil May Cry 16 23 0.70

Despite being the 4th series in terms of overall franchise sales, the average sales are far lower than Capcom’s other major series. This shouldn’t be too surprising when you consider the series has an overabundance of spinoff series. Series like Battle Network, Star Force and Legends failed to match the main series’s success.

To illustrate the series track record, here are Capcom’s 10 best selling titles

  1. Resident Evil 5 – 7.2 million
  2. Resident Evil 6 – 7.0 million
  3. Street Fighter 2 – 6.3 million
  4. Resident Evil 2 – 4.69 million
  5. Monster Hunter Freedom 3 – 4.9 million
  6. Monster Hunter X – 4.1 million
  7. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate – 4.1 million
  8. Resident Evil 7 – 4.1 million
  9. Monster Hunter 4 – 4.1 million
  10. Street Fighter 2 Turbo – 4.1 million

“Wait, where’s Mega Man,” The best selling Mega Man game, Mega Man 2, sits at # 41 with 1.51 million units sold. The next best selling game is Mega Man Battle Network 4 with 1.35 million units sold. In fact, there are only 4 Mega Man titles that have sold over 1 million copies. That’s right, out of 136 titles, only 4 broke 1 million sold. In Capcom’s words “sales of more than one million units is the generally accepted standard for a major hit.” Is it any wonder then that the series has been dark for so long?

In response to the lack of titles, fan levied claims that Capcom hated the Mega Man series. However, I don’t that’s true. Capcom still released compilation games during the series hiatus. They still released merchandise. And the game was always featured on the company’s Investor Relation Website. I think the series always had a special place in Capcom’s heart. The problem was Mega Man wasn’t making the sales to justify its continuation.

With Mega Man 11, I think Capcom nailed the timing. It’s Mega Man’s 30th anniversary. Fans are eager for a new title. And the title is releasing on the heels of other successful throwback titles like Sonic Mania. Not to mention the Nintendo Switch would be a perfect home for the title as it has a constituency for classic games. Mega Man struggles to sell, but the star may be aligning with this game.

In closing, I urge fans not to sit out with this title. What made the Mega Man a neglected franchise it is was a lack of financial success, and the last million seller was released in 2003. If Capcom is going to continue the series, fans need to show they be willing to buy a new Mega Man title. The series lives or dies on Mega Man 11, but the title is poised to be a big hit. Plus it looks far better than the series washed up cousin, Mighty Number 9.

We’ll see what becomes of the Blue Bomber in 2018. Until then, enjoy the glimmer of hope for what has otherwise been a hit or miss series.

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