Production Studio 4 (プロダクション スタジオ4 Purodakushon sutajio 4 ) was a Capcom games development studio which existed from the late 1990s to 2005. For much of its existence it was led by Producer Shinji Mikami, who is credited in all their games. Many of the Resident Evil titles from this period were developed by Studio 4, with the exception of Resident Evil Zero and the Survivor titles by Studio 3, and Outbreak by Studio 1.
The Studio was founded around 1999 as one of a number of semi-autonomous development studios. The studio's first projects were Shu Takumi and Shinji Mikami's Dino Crisis and Kazuhiro Aoyama's BIOHAZARD 1.9 and Hideki Kamiya's BIOHAZARD 3 for the PlayStation, and Hiroki Katō's BIOHAZARD -CODE:Veronica- for the Dreamcast. Of these 1.9 was a totally in-house production written by Yasuhisa Kawamura, while BIOHAZARD 3 and CODE:Veronica were written by FLAGSHIP writer Noboru Sugimura, the latter of which was heavily outsourced to other companies due to a manpower shortage. Following the good reception of DINO CRISIS, Takumi was brought back as director for the sequel, DINO CRISIS 2, written by Sugimura.
With Kamiya and "Team Little Devil"'s game being the most expensive, Capcom decided it was better to move development to the new PlayStation 2 console to avoid it underselling on an outdated console. With this delay, the game was retitled as BIOHAZARD 4 in mid-1999, the number 3 being given to Aoyama's 1.9, soon retitling it as BIOHAZARD 3 LAST ESCAPE, a rational number being deemed more profitable for the aging PlayStation and a good way of ending support for the console. Shinji Mikami was highly-critical of the corporate decision and threatened to quit, seeing it as unworthy of the number and liable to alienate fans if they were to take note of the drop in quality. Not long after, the considerable differences in BIOHAZARD 4's gameplay style got the attention of Mikami, who persuaded the team that it should be a new IP, being retitled DEVIL MAY CRY and its plot altered to remove references to the Resident Evil franchise. The first new development of the millennium was Shu Takumi's Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, which entered production in mid-2000 six month's after DINO CRISIS 2's release after persuasion with Mikami, who considered the premise to be ridiculous.
In 2001, Studio 4's development changed significantly at a press conference in which Mikami offered the studio's support for Nintendo's GameCube and announced the Capcom Five deal that would result in four AAA-rated Studio 4 titles being released first on the GameCube, with PlayStation 2 ports projected to be a year later. The deal consisted of Dead Phoenix, a 3D shoot-'em-up; Killer7, an action-adventure game co-developed with Grasshopper; P.N.03, a sci-fi third-person shooter, and a new Resident Evil title: biohazard4. Of these Mikami directed Viewtiful Joe and P.N.03, with biohazard4 going to Hiroshi Shibata, with writing by Noboru Sugimura and Yasuhisa Kawamura. Along with Capcom Five, Mikami further announced his intention to make all numbered Resident Evil titles permanent Nintendo exclusives, announcing biohazard, a remake of 1996's BIOHAZARD as well as an overhaul in the franchise titling, with the change from upper- to lowercase signifing the change in era. In a follow-up interview with Mikami and Studio 3's Production Manager Tatsuya Minami, it was confirmed that the unreleased Nintendo 64 title BIOHAZARD 0 would also be re-developed as the GameCube exclusive biohazard 0.
Problems began to emerge in Studio 4 after the exclusivity announcement. biohazard; Viewtiful Joe and P.N.03 all sold less than expected at their 2002 and early 2003 releases. Dead Phoenix suffered unknown setbacks and was cancelled after E3 2003. Capcom also failed to make profit with Studio 4's only non-Nintendo game, the Xbox-exclusive DINO CRISIS 3. biohazard4 meanwhile was undergoing repeated changes, which Mikami had already criticised in a 2002 interview as being almost daily. Development changed rapidly in early 2003 following Sugimura's departure from the project, with Kawamura scrapping the plot with the intention of creating a more surreal story that would allow the franchise to compete with Konami's horror franchise, Silent Hill. It was discovered after E3 that the GameCube was incapable of playing the game to Kawamura's memory-taxing ideas, and development started again with a more traditional setting in late 2003 without a writer. At this point Mikami took over production, replacing Shibata with himself as director and assuming writing credit. Believing the low sales of biohazard to be due to the franchise being seen as dull and repetitive by fans, rather than the PlayStation 2's dominance in the market, Mikami replaced the game with more action-heavy gameplay concepts to bring in new fans. Following the release of biohazard4 and Killer7, Production Studio 4 was closed to allow Capcom to alter its handling of development teams.