Who wants to buy a Capcom?

Capcom's long history makes it ripe for an existing publisher to bring it into the fold. More than a few companies could benefit from adopting Capcom's library, if not its brand. We've taken a look at some likely (and altogether unlikely) contenders.

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Capcom's shareholders sent a clear invitation to potential investors recently. By removing the safeguards it had in place to prevent a takeover, it essentially puts itself on the market with a flashing neon sign.

We don't know if anyone will bite, and if so, there's a distinct possibility that it will be some company that has nothing to do with games. However, Capcom's long history makes it ripe for an existing publisher to bring it into the fold. More than a few companies could benefit from adopting Capcom's library, if not its brand. We've taken a look at some likely (and altogether unlikely) contenders.

Nintendo

Perhaps the company most in need of an acquisition, Nintendo could use some new blood as the Wii U continues to flounder. Capcom's library of classics still associated with Nintendo's heyday, like Mega Man and Strider, would make an excellent fit for the console business, and the two companies already enjoy close relationships on handheld series like Monster Hunter and Phoenix Wright. Mega Man even appears in Smash Bros later this year. Meanwhile, franchises like Resident Evil and Devil May Cry could give Nintendo a boost to its lacking hardcore credentials. Then again, Nintendo would almost certainly put those on the shelf so as not to compromise its wholesome image.

Nintendo has a large enough war chest to make such an investment, but it is generally cautious and tends to make more left-field moves. When the company does invest in a developer, which is rare in itself, it's barely ever a move we saw coming.

Microsoft

Microsoft is the polar opposite of Nintendo. An investment would be almost entirely for its current slate of franchises, and we know the two already had a close relationship for Dead Rising 3 exclusivity. Picking up the Dead Rising franchise whole-hog, along with other fairly popular ones like Street Fighter, would be a nice get for the company. Plus, it would be an investment into the Japanese market with an already sure-fire hit in Monster Hunter.

Microsoft could certainly afford it, but the utility might be limited. It's already willing to pay for console exclusivity when it wants it, like in the case of Dead Rising, and doesn't have to invest the money to make that a permanent fixture. Plus it appears that the company has more or less given up on Japan this generation. It hasn't launched yet, and the eventual launch is likely to be subdued.

Sony

Sony, finally, would be a hybrid of the two. It would be grabbing the classics like Mega Man, but also hitting historically PlayStation-associated franchises like Resident Evil and Devil May Cry. Of the three console manufacturers, though, Sony is probably in the worst financial position for such a move. The gaming arm is doing fine, but its TV business is on shaky ground and it doesn't have a war chest like Nintendo. This is only likely if Capcom ends up going for a song.

Square Enix

Square Enix was once one of the largest publishers with mega-hits like Final Fantasy 7, but the waning of the Japanese game industry's influence has hit it harder than most. This is why it started looking into investing in western publishers like Eidos, a move that has paid off beautifully as Tomb Raider and Hitman turn into successful mid-tier franchises. Capcom isn't a western brand, but some of its biggest names (Street Fighter and Resident Evil, particularly) come from an era when Capcom was attempting to appeal to the western market. Those names still have staying power, and both are in a position to reboot similar to Tomb Raider. Plus, capturing Monster Hunter would secure yet another of Japan's biggest RPGs, just as the company consolidated Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest under the same roof.

On the other hand, Square Enix may not be able to afford such a costly venture. It's a middle-tier publisher now, and while profitable, it isn't rolling in funding either.

Sega

Similar to Square, Sega is a publisher in need of more franchises. Capcom is fairly similar to Sega in most respects, in fact: waning Japanese companies with long legacies and a few popular franchises still hanging on. To Mega Man, it has Sonic. To Monster Hunter, it has Phantasy Star. To Devil May Cry, it has Bayonetta. This would be more mutually beneficial than most, since both flagging companies could prop each other up.

Then again, it likely doesn't have the funds. Perhaps worse yet, their franchises are such close analogs that the utility of them might get redundant. It's too bad, though. We'd like to see Dante fighting Aliens.

Namco Bandai

Namco Bandai is probably the closest match for Capcom in terms of tone and studio culture. Their libraries would fit well together. So well, in fact, that their fighting franchises had a high-profile crossover, with another still (supposedly) in the works. Like Capcom, its existing library runs the gamut from classic and revered (Pac-Man) to modern hits (Dark Souls). If one company could cleanly fold Capcom's games into its own seamlessly, it would be Namco.

Like Square and Sega, however, this is a mid-tier publisher. It's unlikely to have the cash handy to take over another publisher roughly its own size. It may be the neatest fit if the two agreed to some kind of merger or partnership, but a takeover through stock purchases would be more difficult.

Activision

Activision, on the other hand, could easily afford it and then some. Between two of the biggest franchises and the consistent money-maker of Blizzard on its side, there's very little reason why the publisher couldn't just buy Capcom lock, stock, and barrel. However, this would be an investment in search of a cause. Activision's business model relies on annualizing a small stable of huge franchises. It doesn't have much use for a large and storied library of games that are mostly past their prime. It wouldn't fit Capcom either. Aside from the frequent reiterations of Street Fighter, Capcom doesn't go for annual sequels.

This reasoning could be applied to either of the other big third-party publishers as well. Electronic Arts and Ubisoft could probably afford Capcom, but they'd have very little reason to do it.

Disney Interactive

If Disney wants to pour its buckets of Frozen money into essentially capturing one tenuously connected franchise, it could bring Marvel vs Street Fighter all in-house. There is some precedence for this, as Disney grabbed Lucasarts in its Star Wars acquisition without much attention to Monkey Island or Maniac Mansion. It's doubtful, though. Nothing in Capcom's stable is as big as Star Wars, and it would require a lot of investment just for one get. Capcom isn't selling off franchises piece-meal.

The Mobile Appeal

The most likely contender is some company that sees value in Capcom outside of traditional console releases. After all, Capcom's biggest franchise, Monster Hunter, is starting to push more into mobile devices. Between that and its wide back-catalog, a clever mobile company could snatch up Capcom and turn its games free-to-play. A company like Gameloft would be the most likely candidate for this route, though other publishers like EA and Disney have their own mobile publishing arms. If either of them picked it up, it would most likely be more for the mobile potential than Capcom's traditional console games.

Amazon Game Studios

Amazon is a fledgling in the games industry, but the company is also absurdly rich and seems hungry to make its Fire TV a quasi-console. It even acquired Double Helix, the developer of fighting game Killer Instinct and the latest Strider game. It already has both fighters and one of Capcom's own franchises in its DNA, so it could look to beef up its internal development even more.

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  • reply
    June 17, 2014 12:45 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Who wants to buy a Capcom?.

    Capcom's long history makes it ripe for an existing publisher to bring it into the fold. More than a few companies could benefit from adopting Capcom's library, if not its brand. We've taken a look at some likely (and altogether unlikely) contenders.

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 12:48 PM

      I hope Nintendo does it, but Activision would make sense too.

      • reply
        June 17, 2014 1:35 PM

        I'd really like to see Nintendo scoop them up. It feels like a lot of that IP belongs under that roof.

        • reply
          June 17, 2014 3:35 PM

          That would be a great fit.

        • ArB
          reply
          June 17, 2014 8:32 PM

          I'd hate to see all those franchises buried on a Nintendo console.

      • reply
        June 17, 2014 1:55 PM

        If Activision buys them out, we are guaranteed a megaman game until we barf.

        yearly updates to Street Fighter 4 as well. We'll still pay full price for them so nothing changes in that department. We'll just see it yearly.

      • reply
        June 17, 2014 3:00 PM

        I don't think that there's much worry of Nintendo shelving DmC or Resident Evil, with them publishing the new Bayonetta. Hell, they even suggesting they skip the undershirt for her Link costume.

        • reply
          June 17, 2014 3:20 PM

          Yeah, there's no way they'd shelve that stuff. Resident Evil was a big piece for the GameCube. They got the RE remake and exclusive rights to RE0.

          And with Nintendo scooping up Devil's Third and Bayonetta 2, how can anyone make an argument about Nintendo shelving M-rated games.

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 12:57 PM

      In the end, it'll be some conglomerate that we've never heard of that wants a piece of the video game business.

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 1:19 PM

      Valve? entire Mega Man library ported to steam.

      Mega Man to appear as Dota 2 hero.

      • reply
        June 17, 2014 2:24 PM

        That would be amazing. Mega Man hats in TF2.

        • reply
          June 17, 2014 6:32 PM

          I can see valve buying up all sorts of classic IPs and only using them for hats in TF2.

      • reply
        June 17, 2014 2:51 PM

        this would be awesome. imagine if they rebooted the Mega Man X FPS and made it awesome? the next metroid prime. valve is probably one of the few developers with the talent for something like that, i dont think any of the japanese devs are capable and the big publishers wouldnt take the risk.

        also HD remakes of all the MM+MMX+MMZ+MMZX games. straight to steam.

        • reply
          June 17, 2014 3:17 PM

          Valve is great, but why would want Valve to buy a Japanese company, their developers, resources, and properties to remake an old game inspired by another game that Valve had nothing to do with? Makes more sense to have Nintendo buy it and just give Mega Man to Retro Studios if that's what you want. Of course more Metroid Prime-like Metroid from Retro is what everyone really wants. But whatever.

          • reply
            June 17, 2014 3:47 PM

            Because the default computer gamer answer is Valve.

            Doesn't matter how little sense it makes for them it is Valve should buy them and they with fix everything.

          • reply
            June 17, 2014 3:58 PM

            they wouldnt obviously but its fun to think about

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 1:23 PM

      SNK Playmore should buy them

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 2:21 PM

      In a world of perfect irony, someone would loan Platinum Games over $10B so that they could acquire Capcom.

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 2:26 PM

      Whoever owns Sega will probably pick it up.

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 3:02 PM

      EA will snap them up. You now have to pay for Megaman's upgrades.

      • reply
        June 17, 2014 6:33 PM

        Upgrades!? I can't even afford the 1 cent charge for each shot from the vanilla buster cannon.

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 3:02 PM

      What about Konami?

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 3:15 PM

      I've been saying for a long time Nintendo should just buy Capcom. I've seen talks about people wanting Nintendo to just buy Mega Man, but why do that? Just buy the entire company.

      I think it'd be a waste if anyone else did it. Nobody really makes sense. Microsoft wouldn't use the whole library. Sony might, but they can't afford it right now. Namco wouldn't be bad, but they don't need it either.

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 4:06 PM

      Capcom has been my favorite shop since I started int he Arcades, man this makes me sad :(

      Man I hope Amazon Game Studios or The Mobile Appeal don't buy them that be horrible.

      Next I hope Nintendo does not buy them(second worst case) I don't know what is going to happen to Nintendo in the next couple of years(not that they don't have money) but they keep messing up the hardware they are too unknown. Then again their next console has to be > than the WiiU so maybe everything will be gravy right. I still have this bad feeling that they will put out a handheld version of the WiiU hardware and call that their next system and it won't progress(> hardware) which would suck.

      Man seems like JPN has almost KOed in video industry, its odd when back in the day the 90s they where King and I hard core looked up to them, such a weird turn around.

      Well I hope everything works out in the end. Going to make a guess and see into the future, my money is on Sony, this would be amazing if it happens.

      • reply
        June 17, 2014 7:29 PM

        Your Nintendo rant is cray cray.

        • reply
          June 17, 2014 8:17 PM

          As much as we love him, his console insights are usually terrible.

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          June 17, 2014 10:56 PM

          I love Nintendo and I love my Wii U but the fact is they have made under powered console hardware for a while now. There is a reason the third party support has been lacking.

          I really wish their next console will have hardware that is powerful enough to last and draw third party support.

          If they had powerful hardware then Nintendo would be my first choice. Then again they don't care about the PC and Capcom's IPs are by far some of the most valuable IPs in the industry that I love so that would not sit well with me(being selfish and thinking of my PC).

          Not sure why I seem to be way off and crazy? Nintendo has mentioned that they are interested in a all in one handheld console that would merge the hand held and console gaming into one, that is not my idea they said it. Problem is can you take the PS4 or XB1 hardware and make it a handheld right now, not that I know of hence the WiiU lvl handheld that is backwards compatible Nintendo style. Sure they will make it a bit more powerful than the WiiU but not by much.

          We shall see, I hope I am wrong. What do you think Ns next console will be like?

          • reply
            June 17, 2014 11:21 PM

            Third party support pretty much always sucks for Nintendo, this isn't new. Nintendo outshines every single one of them anyway. I mean people buy Nintendo hardware to play Nintendo games. That's just how it is.

            I have a feeling that Nintendo doubles down on "touch", much like Wii U for their next system. There's nothing wrong with that, but they may do it differently somehow to bring initial costs down. I wouldn't be surprised to see the next controller be portable. But who knows. Probably 3-4 years in the future.

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            June 19, 2014 3:35 AM

            NIntendo's machines have always been quite under powered.

            Granted the Gamecube was more powerful than PS2 or Dreamcast and only Xbox had more raw power under the hood in that generation.

            It's just not about power, it's about how you use the gameplay ideas.

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 5:19 PM

      I would love for Nintendo to bring Capcom's properties into the fold, but they are way too conservative to make that kind of expensive acquisition especially when the Wii U isn't doing very well.

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 5:28 PM

      I hope it's Nintendo. Then they can immediately announce megaman legends 3 and REmake 2 for the Wii u.

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 5:32 PM

      After reading each of the following I'd prefer Square-Enix buy them out. By SE buying them we're sure to see them on console and on PC. Haven't really cared for Nintendo since the end of N64 and DS. Hell no to Activision. $60 for CoD games that are 3 sequels behind current is stupid. If Microsoft and Sony bought them we might not see PC games. Square-Enix seems the best fit for them and us.

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        June 17, 2014 8:55 PM

        I would get behind a Square-Enix purchase. They have only made improvements to the Eidos stable.

        I would be bummed to see Zenimax buy them with how they are treating their talent.

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 6:02 PM

      Microsoft would do it, they're floundering right now and that seems to be when they make their big acquisitions

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 6:13 PM

      Man I gotta get man with the briefcase on the horn about this

      READY THE HAM SANDWICHES

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 7:34 PM

      I have $18 ready for the spendin'.

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 7:43 PM

      Whoever does it needs to frigging make Megaman Legends 3!!!

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 8:47 PM

      Ghouls and Ghosts, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Bionic Commando, Street Fighter, Mega Man, Strider, DMC-- NINTENDO BUY IT!!!

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 10:01 PM

      Nintendo NOT buying out Capcom would be the blunder of the millennium.

    • reply
      June 17, 2014 10:03 PM

      Anyone but Nintendo, we would never get a proper dragons dogma game stuck on their underpowered platforms. Also nintendo never brings games to pc so yeah anyone but Nintendo.

      • reply
        June 17, 2014 10:55 PM

        I'm with you on this one. Nintendo would land on a goldmine buying out Capcom but if all the Capcom IP goes Nintendo hardware exclusive I would be a sad panda. I need more dragons dogma.

    • reply
      June 18, 2014 1:39 AM

      "Then again, Nintendo would almost certainly put those on the shelf so as not to compromise its wholesome image."

      What does that mean? Does that mean that you think Nintendo wouldn't do games like Bayonetta 2 or The Devil's Third or Fatal Frame 5?

      • reply
        June 18, 2014 1:40 AM

        Anyways, japanese companies do not sell to foreign companies, for example Square and Enix, Namco and Bandai, Sega and Sammy.

        My bet is that Capcom will be bought by a japanese company, most likely not Nintendo or Sony, but someone else, maybe even another not real game company like Sammy when they bought Sega.

      • reply
        June 18, 2014 7:25 AM

        Nintendo would be fine with publishing those games, but things change when they have to lay down money to have them developed in-house. I mean, what are the most mature games created by a Nintendo owned developer? Eternal Darkness, Metroid Prime, and GoldenEye? They're good games, but they don't exactly meet the gore/horror level of Dead Rising, or reach for the high graphics of games like DMC.

    • reply
      June 18, 2014 3:38 PM

      My hope is for a square or namco merger.