Capcom entered into two separate exclusivity agreements with Nintendo over its Resident Evil franchise at the start of the 21st century. Both agreements existed for their own reasons and had differing levels of success, and have been totally abandoned as of 2016.
Continuing a trend starting in the 1990s, Nintendo's new GameCube was at a commercial disadvantage with Sony's PlayStation. While CD-ROM allowed for greater storage space, Nintendo preferred to rely on its proprietary cartridge format, allowing for better loading times, with the expectation of turning to a disc format once disc-reading technology had improved. Nintendo entered agreements with Sony and later Philips to create a CD-based add-on for the SNES, but these plants were ultimately cancelled to plan for the next generation console. The Nintendo 64 remained cartridge-based, though a disc-reading system, the "64DD", was announced, able to read proprietary discs with a maximum storage space of 64MB. Initially planned for release in late 1996, these plans were repeatedly delayed, with the system finally being released in December 1999 as a Japan-exclusive.
Both the delays in 64DD as well as the advantageous space available to CD-ROM negatively affected Nintendo's third party share of the market. Capcom, itself one of the first Nintendo partners, began drifting towards the new PlayStation, though continued to support for Nintendo. Development of Resident Evil 0 was initially targeted at the 64DD for its storage space, but increasing delays led to it being moved to the Nintendo 64 cartridge format. The game would soon after be shelved due to problems with the storage space, eventually resuming upon securing of GameCube SDKs. Other partners like Square simply abandoned the console in favour of PlayStation, starting with Final Fantasy VII.
When work began on the GameCube, Nintendo switched to a proprietary disc capable of storing 1.5GB, hoping to become satisfying once more to third party developers. This was not as successful as hoped, as the PlayStation 2 was built with DVD playability in mind, and games for it would typically consist of the DVD-5 (4.37GB) and DVD-9 (7.95) types.
Resident Evil exclusivity
Work began on a remake of the original Resident Evil in late 2000. Producer and Director Shinji Mikami preferred the GameCube due to the proprietary disc, feeling Sony's interest in DVDs to be focused outside of gaming. Development with the GameCube SDK was hit by problems early on due to developer unfamiliarity, but considerable support was given by Nintendo, earning respect from Mikami.
On 13 September 2001, Capcom called a press conference held by Mikam. He introduced the radically altered logo for the franchise in future, changing from the all-caps "BIOHAZARD" to the low-caps "biohazard". Moving on, Mikami announced the continued work on the GameCube remake of Resident Evil, thanking Nintendo for its developer support, and finally announced the general exclusivity of Resident Evil for the console, with ports of Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and Resident Evil CODE:Veronica to be added to the roster. Nintendo CEO Shigeru Miyamoto was in attendance at the event and gave a speech. In interviews and statements, Mikami further supported exclusivity as it would ensure there not be an abundance of games exclusive to different consoles. Not long after, the agreement was modified to only regard numbered games and, consequently, Studios 1 and 3 were able to work on PS2 Resident Evil titles.
Capcom 5 agreement
Continuing on from Mikami's agreement, Capcom continued its support for the GameCube by announcing a further five GameCube exclusive games in November 2002. These were: Viewtiful Joe, a side-scrolling action game directed by Hideki Kamiya; Dead Phoenix, a shoot'em-up, PN.03, a sci-fi shooter directed by Mikami; Killer7, a sci-fi adventure game directed by Goichi Suda, and finally Resident Evil 4, a survival horror game directed by Hiroshi Shibata. All games were expected for a 2003 release date with the exception of Resident Evil 4, which was left unknown. Later clarifications of the agreement stressed that only Resident Evil 4 would remain exclusive, with the other four intended to be ported to PlayStation 2 months later.
Development of these five games saw considerable delays and less than expected sales, harming both Capcom and Nintendo financially. P.N.03 was released in March 2003 and sold 11,000 copies in its opening week. Sales for Viewtiful Joe fared better, with Capcom reporting a "healthy growth" internationally in spite of sluggish overall sales of games in Japan, selling just under 100,000 copies in its opening week. Dead Phoenix was plagued with unexplained problems in the development, and after failing to appear at E3 2003, was announced as cancelled.
The final two games in the Capcom 5 remaining were Killer7 and Resident Evil 4, both delayed considerably due to internal problems. Having experienced a number of poor-selling titles in 2002-3, Capcom began questioning the agreement. Viewtiful Joe was released on PlayStation 2 in August 2004, and in November of that year, Capcom declared that Resident Evil 4, slated for a January 2005 release, was to also come to PlayStation later that year. The final game in development, Killer7, was released in June 2005 on both GameCube and PlayStation 2, no longer interested in delaying its games.
With the exception of Resident Evil 4, none of the other Capcom 5 games reached Platinum.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Mikami statement (Japanese).
- ↑ Press conference transcript (Japanese).
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 "New 5 Titles for NINTENDO GAMECUBE!! New 5 Titles for NINTENDO GAMECUBE!"
- ↑ Mid-2003 financial year report.
- ↑ "Capcom’s million-selling series, Resident Evil, expanding to the Nintendo GameCube and Sony PlayStaion2!"