From fan game to official game
As we found out this past weekend, Street Fighter X Mega Man is a free, officially backed Capcom game created entirely by a fan off both franchises. Capcom has been catching flack for their treatment of the Mega Man franchise over the last two years, but this crossover title is looking to be the rekindling of the Blue Bomber.
Seow Zong Hui is the man responsible for Street Fighter X Mega Man and has been working on his mashup since 2010 in his spare time as he studied for his engineering degree in Singapore. While there was strong buzz at the beginning, Seow went off the radar with his project until EVO 2012. It was there that he approached Christian Svensson, Senior Vice President of Capcom USA, with a laptop and simply said, "I want to show you something."
How Capcom teamed up with a fan
Christian played the game, and it's as if the stars had aligned for him. "In my head, we were in the middle of our 25th anniversary celebration of Street Fighter," Christian told me. "We had started planning the Mega Man stuff a couple of months earlier, but we didn't have a good opener."
After playing the game, Christian got a copy from Seow and took it to Capcom's Senior Online Community Manager, Brett Elston. "I know Mega Man, but I don't know Mega Man like Brett," Christian explained. "I asked him, is this something that fans are going to like or are they going to throw up all over this thing?"
"There were four levels available at the time," Brett told me. "I played through and I only got maybe halfway through the first stage I played, which was Blanka at the time, and even halfway through I was just like, this is great. It feels right, the philosophy of the level design is right. The physics, the jumping -- everything feels just like it should. I immediately said go for it."
Once Brett gave the all clear, Christian immediately started work on the business side. He had to sell the idea to Capcom Japan, and once they were on board he went about funding the project, providing QA testing, sorting through the legal stuff (Capcom USA owns the Street Fighter rights while Capcom Japan owns the Mega Man rights), and provided creative input.
Christian was determined to make the official reveal happen this past weekend at the finals of the 25th Anniversary Street Fighter tournament as a way to bridge the two 25th anniversaries together. "We knew the tournament was going to happen here and that this was signifying the end of the 25th celebrations [for Street Fighter], and [December 17] is Mega Man's 25th anniversary.
"We really wanted to have the release of the game on the 17th," Christian went on. "Purely serendipitous that the right concept came at the right time that we could actually get it done in time. It's something we've worked on very very hard over the last six months to complete it."
I feel like it needs repeating, but yes, Street Fighter X Mega Man will be a free downloadable on the PC. You'll be able to download the game through Capcom-Unity, and I suggest you only download it from them as it will be the easiest way for Capcom to track how the game is performing.
"We'll be using this as one of many means of gauging where we're going," Christian told me. "One of the challenges that we have is figuring out what is the path forward in terms of, you know, Mega Man has five brands: Classic, X, ZX, Battle Network/Star Force, and Legends. Some of these things are in the same ballpark as one another, and some of them are completely different. That's part of where the, I'll say, the disagreement comes in -- a non-unified vision of where Mega Man should live on exists within our own company as well as it does in the market.
"I would argue that if anything, if we get a million downloads of [Street Fighter X Mega Man], and certainly I think that's the floor I hope to see -- it's free, it should hopefully do more than that! -- that just helps raise awareness for the brand across the board and creates fertile ground for things to happen regardless of which direction that it kind of comes in."
The shaky grounds of the Mega Man franchise over the last two years is one of the main reasons the crossover title will be free. "We would hope this is, on our end could sort of make good [to fans]," Brett explained. "Making it free, making it available to as many people as possible, helps us get back on the right track with the brand. This is just the beginning of the 25th anniversary of Mega Man, this isn't the end-all, be-all that we have to say. We're hoping the free status of the game shows that we're listening and that we care. We want to get this character, this brand, back alive."
What the future may hold
There are plenty of World Warriors that Mega Man could go up against, leading to the possibility of sequels very easily. Were a sequel to happen, it would all depend on Zong Hui's availability. Additionally, the game could be released on other open platforms, but closed platforms like the consoles are very doubtful due to their cost-prohibitive nature. You can always hook up your PC to a TV, and it does look great on a TV screen as well, according to Brett.
Were a sequel to happen, though, it would more than likely not be free, in turn possibly opening it up to a lot more devices. For now, Christian and the team are just going to take things one day at a time and see what the fan feedback looks like before thinking about the future.
Check out my hands-on preview of Street Fighter X Mega Man for more on the game.