In gaming circles, Capcom is often seen as the company that brought you the Street Fighter and Resident Evil series of games. More recently, Capcom has become notable for its Ace Attorney series of games as well. But in intellectual property circles, Capcom will always be the game studio that pimped SOPA to the public, foisted broken DRM on its customers, and treated Resident Evil customers both to a secondary-market killing DRM that allowed only one play-through of the game and the removal of promised features and only alerted customers to it after sales had begun rolling in. I think it's fair to say, in other words, that Capcom has been known to be almost cartoonishly pernicious.
Speaking of which, Capcom also recently shut down a fan-translated play-through of an Ace Attorney game only available in Japan. Consistency!
Dai Gyakuten Saiban is an Ace Attorney spin-off starring an ancestor of Phoenix Wright in feudal Japan that has not been released in English. For O and Garbage, who run a Dai Gyakuten Saiban YouTube channel, it’s their favorite Ace Attorney game.
“Since I have an import 3DS, I bought the game just to try it out,” she said over reddit private messages. “Dai Gyakuten Saiban drew me in with it’s aesthetics, and then caught me in a death grip with Asougi [the main character’s rival].” Their shared passion for the game lead them to translate it over a period of about 8 months. Their videos consisted of footage of the game as they played it without commentary, with subtitles added using YouTube’s subtitling options. They finished just in time for the announcement of Dai Gyakuten Saiban 2. “We both loved the game a lot,” O said, “and it was a shame that not everyone would be able to experience it because it lacked a localization.”
Ok, so a couple of things to note here. First, the videos in question are quite old. It seems they began the series in 2015, so we're talking a couple of years here. Second, O and Garbage say they purposefully made sure there were no ads or monetization on the videos. They were trying to share the game with others that didn't have access to it, not make coin. Third, I've found nothing to suggest that any English version of the game is even planned, nevermind set for release. Most references for the game suggest there is no planned release for the game anywhere outside of Japan. Given that it's already a few years old, the likelihood of translated versions is beginning to drop. So, we have a fan translation of a game play-through in a language for which there is no planned release, with an audience in a market for which there is no planned release. And Capcom took it down. Why?
I already know what you're thinking: "Probably a ContentID or bot-driven DMCA notice is to blame." Nooooooope.
Sunday, June 25th, O discovered that the entirety of their translated Dai Gyakuten Saiban videos had been taken down by Capcom. The copy of the takedown notice they showed me indicated that they were manually detected, and not a victim of the automated “Content ID” system that is sometimes overzealous in how it flags gameplay videos. I reached out to Capcom about this and they declined to comment.
So Capcom manually took down this fan translation, apparently believing that language is a form of DRM and gamers ought to have to learn Japanese and buy the only version of the game that exists in order to get any sort of peek at a play-through. Keep in mind we're talking about a play-through without ads or monetization on it. I'm struggling to come up with an explanation for why Capcom would do this other than...they're just mean, I guess? Mean to very real fans of its games that just wanted to show off how cool the game was to those that had no shot of getting it for themselves because Capcom didn't make it available to them.
While she’s not as frustrated as she was when she first found out, O and Garbage are both “bummed,” as Garbage puts it. But neither of them have very many regrets about starting the project in the first place.
“There wasn’t an earth shattering revelation or pull to me doing this,” Garbage said. “I just wanted to share a game that was inaccessible.”
8 months of work down the drain. And for what?