As the title says, Megaman Legends 3 has been cancelled. Announced video games getting cancelled happens all the time. (I should know, I'm a Rare fan!)
(Warning: I will spoil the ending to Megaman Legends 2 in the third paragraph. It came out 11 years ago, but I thought I should warn those of you that intend to buy a used copy of it and play it someday.)
But first, a little history lesson! Though Capcom has many hit franchises today, back in the 1980’s, Capcom struggled to find an identity. They made numerous games for numerous platforms, but not one of them had a character that could be identified with the studio. Their original games like Bionic Commando weren’t successful enough and their other games were based on licensed material (ex. Disney franchises); however, in 1987, Capcom finally had their big hit: Megaman! Megaman was a 2d, sidscrolling shooter platformer where Megman must defeat Dr. Wiley and his evil “Robot Masters” to save the world. The game became famous for allowing the player to use the weapons of Robot Masters he defeated and infamous for its extreme difficulty.
Capcom not only found their icon, they also found a profitable franchise to milk. Capcom began producing numerous games starring the “Blue Bomber”, spanning multiple genres. One of those games was Megaman Legends.
Megaman Legends was a 3D, 3rd person shooter action-adventure RPG, released way back in 1997 on the original Playstation and was later ported over to numerous other consoles. The game was successful enough to spawn a sequel and spin-off. The Megaman Legends franchise had moderate sales and its review scores were around 70%, yet somehow, the franchise had a SUPER dedicated fanbase (partially because the second game ended on a cliffhanger with Megaman trapped on a small planet, called Elysium, orbiting the planet Terra, and his friends back on Terra are trying to build a rocket to bring him back home.)
So when Capcom announced on September 29th, 2010, that they were making Megaman Legends 3 for the Nintendo 3DS, gamers on the Internet freaked out. It seemed too good to be true.
We were right to be suspicious.
Just one month later, Keiji Inafune announced he was leaving Capcom. You’re probably wondering why this is related. Not only was Inafune the Global Head of Production for Capcom, he is also the father of Lost Planet, Dead Rising, and, most importantly, Megaman. Once Capcom had created numerous other hit franchises, like Resident Evil and Street Fighter, Capcom began to lose interest in their firstborn. Inafune was the primary driving force within Capcom to make Megaman games. With him gone, Megaman was in danger. It wasn’t immediate, but the Megaman franchise was falling apart.
On November 16, 2010, Capcom opened up the Megaman Legends 3 Dev Room, where passionate fans could vote on important aspects of the game’s development, like what the heroine’s design will be or how Megaman’s new outfit will look like. The game was in such early pre-production, it hadn’t even been greenlit yet. That’s right, the game wasn’t even greenlit.
In an interview on March 10, 2011, a Capcom employee mentioned how the game wasn’t greenlit yet, meaning that there was a very possible chance that it could and would be canned. Capcom was playing a dangerous game with fans hearts, but at least the other Megaman games were safe…right?
Megaman Universe was 2.5D action platformer for PSN and XBLA, where players could customize their character and build their own levels. Capcom cancelled the game on March 31, 2010. I don’t know if there was a troubled development, but the cancellation certainly did not send a positive and tender message to the fanbase. People continued to worry about Megaman Legends 3’s fate.
Capcom announced on April 21, 2011 that they were going to release Megaman Legends 3 Protoype as a launch title for the 3DS eShop service, where gamers could digitally download games onto their 3DS. MML3 Prototype would include several missions and a boss battle, and would cost $2. A day later, a Capcom employee explained that MML3 Protoype was being released so fans could show their support with cash, which, if successful, would allow the game to be finally greenlit. Capcom later announced that they were delaying the Prototype to after the 3DS eShop launch. Even announcing a simple delay made the fans uncomfortable.
I planned on buying Megaman Legends 3, simply because the fanbase was so passionate, but I figured I would buy the earlier Megaman Legends games on PSN to show my financial support and to see what the big deal was. I mean, they had to be on there, to raise hype about the sequel. I mean, if Microsoft was smart enough to do that for the Banjo-Kazooie franchise, surely Capcom couldn’t be less competent than Microsoft…right?
Nope. Megaman Legends 1 & 2 are not on the US PSN. They’re up on the Japanese PSN, but not the US PSN because of “property infringement issues”. So, it seems they weren’t willing to pump any money behind the Megaman Legends franchise. Why? Isn’t it obvious at this point?
July 18th, 2011- I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Capcom announced that they cancelled Megaman Legends 3, a game that wasn’t even technically in development.
Megaman fans were upset and threads began popping up all over the Internet.Fans began producing lots of fanart expressing how upset they were, and by “lots”, I mean lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots. Even videos! But what incited the fan rage was a single tweet: Capcom Europe’s Twitter account tweeted “it’s a shame the fans didn’t want to get more involved :-( if we saw there was an audience for MML3 people might change minds”. Read that carefully. Capcom blamed their fans for the cancellation.
Nuclear meltdowns, all up in this bitch! The person in charge of the Twitter account should have been apologizing, but instead, he just started trolling the fans. And he just kept on trolling, and trolling, and trolling, and trolling.
Hell hath no fury like a gamer scorned. Fans created a fan page on Facebook to get the game un-cancelled (which has gathered 20,000 fans in only a few days), they began spamming the Capcom suggestion box, suggesting that they release Megaman Legends 3, and they even spammed Capcom’s Comic-Con liveblog, demanding Megaman Legends 3. They even made some sort of avant-garde fan game (seriously, play it until you get to the credits/thanks page). Adding fuel to the fire, Capcom announced Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3…which contains a level from Megaman Legends. And then the nasty rumor appeared.
On July 21st, a rumor suddenly appeared that people were getting booted from Capcom’s Comic-Con booth for wearing Megaman clothes/cosplay or for even mentioning the franchise. The rumor was later confirmed as false, but the scary thing is that rumor was plausible.
Capcom just recently has done a whole bunch of stupid things (*Cough* *Cough* *Cough*), like how Capcom even tried to cancel Dead Rising and Lost Planet in their prototype phases, which are their biggest franchises from this generation of consoles. But the question that has been buzzing around my head has been the following:
“How can one make a significant profit out of a small, dedicated fanbase?”
The amount of people who would buy Megaman Legends 3 dwarfs in comparison to Call of Duty franchise, but the MML fans are so much more passionate about their game than the Call of Duty fans are. If I asked someone who was planning on buying Megaman Legends 3 what they thought about the rejected heroine designs or even its cancellation, I’d be stuck listening to their rants for hours. By comparison, if I asked someone who was planning on buying Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 what they thought of Activision’s poor treatment of Infinity Ward, which resulted in nearly all of the senior staff and the founders leaving to form Respawn Entertainment, they’d probably just drool with a quizzical look on their face.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World bombed at the box office. Firefly crashed and burned both as a TV series and as a movie. And I don’t think I have the heart to get into Shenmue, but there are so many franchises in numerous forms of media that have rabid fanbases, yet are somehow producing shovelware money, if they’re lucky enough to even produce money at all. Is merchandise the answer? Is it Downloadable Content or micro-transactions? If we can figure out how to turn energy into matter, there is no excuse why we can’t figure out some way of converting that passion into money. I haven’t a clue what it may be, and I doubt I’m clever enough to figure it out, but I think that in the future, that answer will be vital for creativity and innovation to survive.
Allow me to leave you with this: The only thing I can think of with a small, passionately dedicated following that has made oodles of cash is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Not only has it made its budget back 100 times over, it never left theaters when it was originally released back in 1975. Numerous theaters show it weekly late at night, and people actually perform along with the show in the front of the theater while the audience heckle the film IN FREAKIN’ UNISON.
Granted, it’s really the theaters who gets the money, but I think that 20th Century Fox found that answer I’m looking for. They probably found it by complete accident and would not be able to replicate it, but at least there is something there to reverse engineer.
Maybe we’ll get Megaman off Elysium one day yet.