Opinion: Capcom Has Elevated Trolling Fans to an Artform
Capcom deserves a lifetime achievement award for trolling fans. The company seems to excel at creating a fanbase for its series, and then going out of its way to tick them off. They took Steel Batallion--a series defined by its reliance on a crazy peripheral crammed with joysticks, switches, and foot pedals--and they turned it into a Kinect game. They built a successful zombie-themed franchise with a deliberate, nuanced appeal, and then pushed its core audiences to the wayside in the hopes that they could court the Call of Duty crowd instead. And as if it weren't enough to do that to Resident Evil, there are clear signs they're trying the same thing with Dead Rising! I already thought the company was the Michael Jordan of Trolling after the whole Mega Man Legends 3 debacle. I mean, how do you give perhaps your most passionate yet niche fan base a title they've been requesting for years, invite them into the development process in an unprecedented pre-Kickstarter way, and then yank the rug out from under them and toss the entire passion project in a flaming dumpster? It's hardcore pandering to invite their input in the first place, and then ruthless cruelty to tell them the game they were making wasn't good enough to see the light of day. That's some fine trolling right there, like a perfectly executed WWE heel turn.
The cover of Capcom's annual report, and yet another fistful of sand thrown into the eyes of Mega Man fans.
But today I realized what separates Capcom from the rest of the pack. The people holding the reins are so dedicated to antagonizing their customers, they don't just limit their antagonism to when their fans are watching. It permeates every aspect of the company. Just look at Capcom's latest annual report, a regular update for shareholders explaining what they've been up to and where they expect to go in the coming year. This document, this comprehensive embodiment of the company's vision and financial health, proudly features Mega Man on the cover. The Blue Bomber is depicted as a photo collage of fan's faces, along with a tagline that explains why trolling seems to be at the heart of Capcom's business model: "Feeling Your Power. Powering Your Feelings."
This one line perfectly articulates why Capcom does what it does, and reveals to the world the hideous truth behind the publisher's facade. Where most companies sustain themselves on money taken in exchange for goods or services, Capcom feeds on pure fan rage. It is a spite engine stuck in a vicious cycle, a business that draws strength from anger, and then pours that strength into making you angrier.
Given its nature, the trolling isn't even intentional at this point, much in the same way we breathe, blink, and digest without having to consciously think about it. Capcom's antagonism is autonomic. You can find evidence of that on the inside front cover of the report, where Capcom explains that it created the cover "to express the image of Capcom's business supported by fans around the world," then explains that Mega Man "was the first title sold for the Super NES in 1987."Simply masterful.