Q&A: Capcom's Mark Beaumont

The North American senior V.P. of sales and marketing on how the company is expanding its presence in the U.S and European markets

Q: What games will you be talking about here at E3?

A: Our two main products, front and center, are Lost Planet, due out in the winter of this year, and then Dead Rising, which is our first Xbox 360 game which is coming out in August.  

Lost Planet is a third-person shooter that puts you in an arctic environment with lots of mech-type opponents and a cinematic style that is very polished. It's impressive even now with another few months of work to be done.  

Dead Rising is almost complete. It is really showing off the power of the 360, and the swarm technology is now in full operation with hundreds of zombies moving around a mall all at the same time. You will be fighting against them with anything you can get your hands on. It's a very engrossing, visceral experience that you pick up almost immediately. We also have a full lineup of everything from PlayStation 2, PSP, and DS.

Q: How do these games represent Capcom's strategy for the year ahead?

A: They show a broader strategy than what you might expect from Capcom. We are known for the Resident Evils, Onimushas, and Street Fighters, etc. But the concept of launching new IP on new hardware platforms early in the cycle is one that has proven to have been successful over time.  

It's far better to launch new IP when you are still building an installed base and, frankly, you have the hardcore that is buying the hardware. They are willing to experiment a bit more. They are not always looking for the license or the franchise but might actually try something that is a little new and different.  

Also, I've found from personal experience that the best time to launch new IP is generally in the first half of the year rather than the second half of the year when generally all of the licensed and franchise products come out. We are achieving both by shipping Dead Rising at an early point in the hardware cycle but with a large enough installed base that we think we can get some critical mass, and then Lost Planet is going to ship, probably right after Christmas, with a much larger installed base.

It's not that we won't do Resident Evil for the next generation because we are. It is not that we won't do Devil May Cry because we are, but we want to take this opportunity to expand our portfolio and give us a broader base to work with.

Q: Tell us some more about Lost Planet.

A: Lost Planet is set in a world of frozen tundra, with bizarre character creatures that you are battling against. Your character has no memory except for the knowledge of how to fight. He will get into hand-to-hand first- and third-person battles. He also climbs into mechs and does battle in that environment as well. It's a high fire-power game with multiplayer components so you will have traditional, capture-the-flag and team-based efforts as well.

Q: You joined Capcom relatively recently. What's been your focus?

A: I came in to Capcom in October last year with an eye to achieving a corporate objective of growing our North American business and ultimately our European business. Both of those are key strategies as we go forward.  

The Japanese videogame business has been a little soft for the last couple of years. The economy is getting better, the market is starting to come back, but if you are truly going to be a worldwide videogame publisher then you have to have a significant North American and European presence.  

That's what attracted me to the opportunity. The senior management understands the importance of making Capcom a bigger international organization with products that are appropriate for all the territories. That is something I enjoy being involved with and I like to think I have a certain skill set for it. So it was a good opportunity for me.

Q: How are you going about achieving that target?

A: We're just trying to make sure we have the right procedures in place and doing things as efficiently as we can, marketing our games more appropriately, crossing the t's, dotting the i's. But, frankly, what I think makes a bigger difference is working closely with the teams as the products are being developed out in Japan and talking about how we can make them more appropriate for overseas markets while at the same time not losing the success we have in Japan.  

We want to make them more global products and at the same time add something that can appeal to the different territories. I have found the developers in Japan to be very open to the idea of working with us to find ways to make better global products.

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