Capcom’s Clover Studios, home of Viewtiful Joe and the recently released titles God Hand and Okami, will be closing down. Also, the publisher sent Next-Gen a highly informative Q&A outlining the reasons for the Clover closure and the departure of key Capcom designers.
The wholly-owned Capcom internal development studio will be dissolved by the end of its fiscal year in March 2007.
A press release on Capcom’s investor relations website reads, "Clover Studio Co., Ltd. has met the goal of developing unique and creative original home video game software, however, in view of promoting a business strategy that concentrates management resources on a selected business to enhance the efficiency of the development power of the entire Capcom group, the dissolution of Clover Studio Co., Ltd. has been raised and passed at a Board of Directors’ meeting." The meeting occurred today in Japan.
Clover Studios is relatively young, having been formed in July 2004. Capcom expects the closure to result in a loss of 400 million yen in its earnings forecast for the fiscal year.
Okami, released on September 19, has received stellar reviews (93 percent on GameRankings) and has achieved very respectable sales thus far. Earlier this week, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian forecasted it as one of the top software sales drivers for September.
As Capcom implied in its statement, Clover Studios had become known for creative titles with distinct visual flair, although it appears that uniqueness wasn’t enough to achieve the financial expectations of the Japanese publisher.
[UPDATE] Capcom supplied Next-Gen with the following "assumed Q&A" regarding the closure of Clover Studios.
[Capcom US PR politely asked Next-Gen to remove the Q&A that was posted here, not on the basis that the information was infactual, but because the form of the Q&A wasn’t final. It seems that it was meant for internal use. As stated in the Q&A, however, Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami left Capcom in November 2005, later signing on with the company on a contract basis. Okami producer Atsushi Inaba and Devil May Cry director Hideki Kamiya have officially left Capcom to seek "a new challenge. (Revised for clarity.)
Capcom has assured Next-Gen an interview with Capcom marketing VP Charles Bellfield who will answer all our Clover-related questions. Thanks for the understanding.]