Falling Seven Times, Rising Eight: A Founding Father of Video Games

Source: 読売新聞 七転八起 「ゲーム時代 先取り」 辻本憲三 69歳 カプコン会長

Kenzo Tsujimoto

A Founding Father of Video Games
Kenzo Tsujimoto, Age 69, Chairman of Capcom

“Managing a confectionery got me into video games.”
After graduating from high school, I worked at a relative’s wholesale store until I opened a confectionery in Osaka at the age of 25. But it was the cotton candy machine, not the treats, that brought the kids into the store. After you paid, the bowl would spin, and it was sort of like a game. After I realized that, I turned the management of the store over to my wife and started hawking those machines.

While I was traveling the country, I turned a pachinko machine into a 10-yen-per-spin game, and the kids would try their luck on it over and over. “What people want most, after food, clothing, and shelter, is enjoyment,” I thought, so I resolved to go into the gaming business.

At first I purchased game machines and resold them, but after receiving thousands of orders from across the country, I thought it would be more profitable to make the machines myself, so in 1974 I established a company. Soon after that, “Space Invaders” arrived. After we licensed it from Taito, there were a huge rush of orders.

But the boom wouldn’t last long. Copycat games flourished, and we ended up with a supply glut. After covering our losses, I stepped down from the company.

Resurrection Thanks to the Goodwill of a Competitor
After I lost my job, Mr. Michael Kogan, President of Taito, reached out to me. He said that he would invest in anything I wanted to do in the gaming industry. I was so grateful. He passed away soon after, but even now, I visit his grave whenever I travel to Los Angeles.

Riding the Wave of the Gaming Age
With his investment, I founded Capcom in 1983. That same year, Nintendo launched the Family Computer [US Name: Nintendo Entertainment System]. At first, we designed games primarily for arcades, and when they were hits, we released them on the Famicom [NES].

I anticipated the demand for games that were like Disney movies, so I pushed for clear and colorful graphics and that feeling of liveliness and immediacy. The fruit of our efforts was Street Fighter 2. It hit the arcades in 1991, but its release on the new Super Famicom [Super Nintendo] made it a huge hit.

Strike Two
But our developers’ tight grasp on production rights started to noticeably increase our costs and damage the company. A number of games were losing money. As a result, we seized the authority from those administrators and halted production on our unprofitable products. Opposition inside the company was strong, but I firmly stated, “If you can’t go along with this, then quit.” Some did.

Becoming the Chairman in 2007 and Working for the Future
We split the responsibilities of the President into the roles of CEO and COO, and I dedicated myself to being Chief Executive Officer. I don’t move around as much now, but in my opinion, by focusing on the numbers I can watch over the company more now than I did as President.

I want to retire early and pass a good situation on to my successor. Since our company grew so quickly, however, we don’t have many managers in their 50s, and those in their 40s and below need more training. I’ll keep my nose to the grindstone so I can ensure stability for the most important members of the company, our shareholders and customers.

Kenzo Tsujimoto with Daughter

Hideki Kishimoto, a staff writer for the business section who is based in Osaka, conducted this interview.

Kenzo Tsujimoto was born in Nara in 1940. In 1960, he graduated from Unebi High School in the same prefecture. He sold game machines and established Capcom in 1983. He has held his current position since July 2007. Since 1997, he has served as Director for the Association of Copyright for Computer Software, organizing countermeasures against game piracy and the like. He is also a wine aficionado who privately established a brewery in California.

Capcom is a domestic game producer. Its name is an abbreviation for “Capsule Computer.” By referring to game software as a “capsule,” it refers to said software as a finished product and warns against illegal copies. “Devil Kings,” its 2005 game about the Warring States Period, caught the attention of young women and helped reignite interest in that era. Its revenues in the third quarter of 2010 were 66.8 billion yen, its highest ever. Company headquarters are based in Osaka’s Chuo District.

辻本憲三(つじもとけんぞう) 69歳 カプコン会長








約40年前 ゲーム機販売で全国を飛び回っていた頃。家族で訪れた橿原神宮(奈良県橿原市)にて






(聞き手 大阪経済部 岸本英樹)


(2010年8月19日 読売新聞)

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