We all know video game journalism is in the gutter. Few sites are reliable (and we all know who they are). Most sites are middlemen advertisers (sadly, even including us) and video game journalism as a whole is trash, we know, it's true. However, every once in a while some of us will come out of the gutter to remind gamers that every purchase they make still counts as a decision that helps shape the industry, and this little reminder here is about an upcoming choice millions of people will make regarding the future of Capcom, based on their highly anticipated zombie-shooter, Resident Evil 6.
On October 2nd Resident Evil 6 will land on store shelves here in North America. The game will be met with strikingly favorable criticism (because, really...video game journalism) and will sell like hot cakes on a breezy fall day. However, that's not the point of this article. The thing is, Resident Evil 6 is pegged by Capcom to ship a total of 20 million units within its lifetime, according to its latest annual performance report. Thereafter, the company plans to put into a effect a new company motto of halving development times, increasing product development output and limiting staff within specific sectors so that projects don't exceed 100 people per project. It's a recipe for disaster.
The thing I'd like to circle back around to is not so much about Capcom's policies, but about how we, as gamers, support such policies by supporting their products. Now, I'm not saying for everyone to go out and rally against everything Capcom churns out, but I am saying to think about the company and the way you support that company in their business practice and their employee treatment. It's a little like going over to thanksgiving dinner to a relative's house where you know the scumbag husband likes to play pugilist practice on his wife.
In a recent article over at Kotaku, it points out all the negative comments about many big time publishers, one company stood out above the others due to a recurring theme in news trends and it was none other than Capcom. It's not just that they stood out in this single instance, but reading over the comments from the anonymous posters echoed what Yoshinori Ono talked about not too long ago, coming off his arduous marketing tenure for Street Fighter X Tekken. The producer for the recent fighting game cited health issues to a link with the stress of work, but his claims weren't alone, he was followed by other employees who spoke out about similar treatment on separate occasions, one of which nearly forced a young employee to the brink of committing suicide due to the abuse.
One of the anonymous posters on Glassdoor stated that...
Studio is heavily mired in ego and politics. There is a common rule of "don't rock the boat". Don't bring up your issues with management on changes in direction. Don't try to implement better team management and work practices. Just keep your head down, talk about your issues outside of the office and do your work.
Ono also mentioned similar conditions, stating that if the employees request a worker union they'll be sacked and immediately replaced, sort of coinciding with the above's comment about the studio working on politics and the motto of “don't rock the boat”. Ono further stated that...
Nobody told me to take a rest. When I returned to work, Capcom didn't even acknowledge that I had been in hospital. There was no change in my schedule. I was at home for an entire week before the doctors allowed me to return to work. When I returned to my desk there was a ticket to Rome waiting for me. There's no mercy. Everyone in the company says: 'Ono-san we've been so worried about you.' Then they hand me a timetable and it's completely filled with things to do."
His story was corroborated by another employee who claimed that he was sent home by management while he was having heart trouble because he was “distracting” the other employees.
Now this sort of treatment varies from company to company but I suppose the thing that makes Capcom worse than the others is the fact that to appease shareholder interest they're basically saying that they plan to increase workload and segment teams where necessary in order to boost profit margins, as outlined in their annual fiscal report, where it states...
Specifically, teams developing major titles will be limited to 100 members, with multiple sequel titles developed at the same time. Also, as it will be necessary to create a large-scale development structure for shortening the development process...
What's more is that things will probably get worse unless the employees at Capcom find a way to either magically get better at everything they do within a smaller team or Capcom starts distributing super-human energy drinks to increase efficiency, and given that Capcom seems to come across as cheap-as-pimp dastards, I can't imagine them spending money on a product to help increase their employees' work ethic.
Now I'm not saying to completely abandon Resident Evil 6, to forgo the experience or give up all of Capcom's products. I'm just saying that it's important to be mindful of what this company represents in the gaming sphere and what they plan to do moving forward with their properties and subsequently, the effect that decision will have on their employees.
And now it's time for me to do my part as a modern day video game advertiser and say that Resident Evil 6 is due out October 2nd for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. But you don't have to buy it if you don't want to support Capcom.
Oh yeah, and if you feel like being cordial and giving Capcom a call or writing them about this kind of stuff, feel free to do so.
Capcom U.S.A., Inc.
800 Concar Drive
San Mateo, CA 94402-2649