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Darkstalkers may be one more casualty of Capcom’s inability to learn from past mistakes

Darkstalkers 4 teased at SDCC

Poor, poor Darkstalkers. Capcom’s monster and sexy cat lady filled fighting game series from the 1990s just cannot catch a break in the modern age. Last year, rumors abounded that Capcom’s fighting game producer Yoshinori Ono was preparing to give the series the Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 treatment and bring it back, but then he fell ill. Instead, in 2013 Capcom gave Nightstalkers and Vampire Savior, the second and third entries in the series, a lavish HD re-release on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in Darkstalkers Resurrection. Despite making the best-seller list on the PlayStation Network in March, the game isn’t performing too well for Capcom.

“Sadly, it’s not as high on that list as it really needs to be to be successful,” said Capcom USA’s senior vice-president Christian Svensson on the publisher’s official forums, “We’ve not given up. But I’m disappointed in the opening sales response relative to any other fighting title we’ve put out on the same platforms given the frequency and urgency of requests we’ve had here over the last several years and the quality of the execution. It is the most fully featured and probably best project of this type we’ve done.”

Darkstalkers Resurrection finished at number 7 on the bestsellers list for PlayStation Network after just two weeks on sale.

There is an active fan base for the Darkstalkers series, as evidenced by the enthusiasm for its characters in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 as well as the response to Ono’s teases for a Darkstalkers 4 in recent years. That said, Capcom may have poisoned the fighting game well, much in the same way that it did at the beginning of the ‘00s, forcing series like Darkstalkers and Street Fighter into hibernation. Just like it did then, Capcom has flooded the fighting game market far too quickly.

Releases from the past five years like Street Fighter IV, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and digital projects like Super Street Fighter II HD Remix were multi-platinum sellers in part because the market was starved. They were released many years after their predecessors. HD remasters, not even full remakes, like Darkstalkers Revenge have been plentiful on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade, though. Since 2011, Capcom’s released Marvel Vs. Capcom Origins, Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure HD, and Darkstalkers Revenge, and that’s on top of others like the aforementioned Super Street Fighter II HD Remix and Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Fans want new Darkstalkers, but the market for HD remasters is glutted.

Capcom’s earnings have not been spectacular as of late, but there are times that a new product rather than a repackaged one can be more profitable though it requires a greater investment of resources.