A critical look at Street Fighter V and their in-game Esports efforts
In this article, two things are under scrutiny:
1) The lack of content and how Capcom has solved it historically with examples.
2) Street Fighter V’s lack of Esports integration
3) Two Suggestions
The launch of Street Fighter V : A cautionary tale
The launch of Street Fighter V was a story of misfortune and questionable decisions that permeated throughout its lifetime. For those who missed it here’s a small recap of what happened.
Street Fighter V launched in an extreme state contentwise; barebones online functionality, a terrible Survival Mode and a very short character story for each character. The main menu even greeted you with a greyed out “coming soon” Cinematic Story mode because it wasn’t finished. The lacking demonstrations and bog standard Combo Challenges also took their sweet time. It felt nothing more than a fully priced Early Access game with the promise of more content to come. There was no Arcade Mode or anything else outside of Survival for offline play until the Arcade Edition re-release.
Credit where credit is due, they overhauled Survival to make it a little bit better and there are monthly costumes you can earn for free with FM.
FM is an interesting take akin to Ubisoft games like R6: Siege and For Honor where you can earn actual DLC characters by playing the game. A lot more can be said about it but that’s another story for another time.
The biggest issue was the lack of content for the non-hardcore players. However, that is not to say that games like Tekken 7 and Pokken Tournament were in a much better state. In comparison, SFVAE has now surpassed them with its share of free updates.
The irony is that Capcom already solved it in one or two of their past games. I kid you not; some of you might not have even been born at that time. Which games? Look no further…
Taking a look back at Capcom’s fighting game singleplayer offering
Two of them are on the original Playstation if you can believe it.
Those solutions weren’t just some cheap ideas. No, they were really cool things. Let’s take a look at 3 examples:
1. Street Fighter Alpha 3
The game didn’t only come with a simple Arcade Mode, it also had a console exclusive extra mode called “World Tour”. In it, you can upgrade your character with special abilities and buffs adding some uniqueness to the game and level up. Though it didn’t matter competitively it was a very fun way to spend some fun time with the game. Many people have clamored for this particular mode to come back but it never did.
Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max, the final Alpha 3 version on PSP
This version came with a boatload of extras that includes characters and modes. A picture tells more than a 1000 words.
2. Rival Schools
You can take a look at the original Japanese intro for Rival Schools and it is still one of the best Fighting Game intros ever:
A lesser known 2D/3D fighting game that was ahead of its time in terms of content and maybe still is. It boasted a fully voiced Arcade Story Mode and a few mini-games. That’s not all though.
Here’s the big news:
Capcom/Virgin Interactive did some cost-cutting measures and removed the School Life Simulation part of the game called “Rival Schools: Hot Blooded Diary” in the western release. That particular part was kind of like a completely separate game adding some more flavor to the various characters and a lot more playtime. That mode was riding on the coattails of the runaway success from Konami called Tokimeki Memorial but with a fighting game twist. In that game mode you could create your own character and choose your school, you train him/her and after getting to know the various characters you can even learn their special moves. It was incredible for a Fighting Game and hasn’t reproduced ever since. That mode was seemingly so popular that Capcom made a standalone update of it known as “Rival Schools: Hot Blooded Diary 2” that even came with a new character and some more mini-games.
Here is a little showcase of the cut content:
Honorary mention: Justice League (Rival Schools 2, Dreamcast)
Just like the first one it had a full arcade story mode with story scenes between each fight. Unfortunately, there was no voiceover making it look a tad more budget feeling than its predecessor. Guess what happened again? Just like before here’s another story of cutting content. It also had an additional game mode in the Japanese version that was ruthlessly cut in the localized western version. This time it was a board game akin to Mario Party that came with a lot of minigames. Unfortunately, there is not much I can tell about it since I never had the chance to try it.
Good gameplay can be nice and all but people have to play the game to enjoy the gameplay first. What happened with SFV was putting the cart before the horse. Not everyone likes to play competitively online and when that becomes the only place to have some fun, then for many there is no fun to have.
So SFV lacks in content and this leads to the big question for everybody: Who is this game for? First, hardcore and competitive players. Second, Esports because USFIV was losing steam and they needed a new SF like yesterday to keep the momentum.
Street Fighter V: A game made for Esports without Esports integration?
Capcom created a Pro Tournament Circuit at the tail end of Street Fighter IV’s life cycle called the “Capcom Pro Tour”(CPT). Since SFV barely had any content you would think, it would at least cater to the Esports side. Right? Wrong. There is zero, nada, zilch, none, nothing that promotes their “Capcom Pro Tour” within their game. At best you got a small text box pop-up notifying you about a tournament and even then it wasn’t used consistently.
The next attempt was something like Dota 2’s DLC crowdfunding idea. A DLC (1 stage, 3 costumes one decided by the Capcom Cup Champion) that adds to the final price pot at the final tournament called Capcom Cup.
Other games such as League of Legends and Dota 2 have already shown how Esports integration looks. None of that is in SFV. The whole state of the game was and is rather baffling. There is absolutely no synergy between the game itself and the CPT. It’s like both of them are completely separate entities. You can’t catch up with the tournament circuit in the game, no replays of tournament matches or anything that even resembles the CPT.
Ideas That Could Benefit Everybody
Street Fighter V is supposedly built as a ”GaaS (Game-as-Service)”, while there are some weekly/monthly missions that should engage the player, they are far too meager to count as an “engagement” and more like an easy FM fountain. There are Extra Battles but those are as meager as the missions.
Here are some personal ideas:
1. Integration of the CPT into the game and its economy
Just like DOTA 2 or LoL, integrate a complete menu for the CPT Tournament Series to foster and drive interest. Not everybody who buys Street Fighter knows about it. The CPT is a treasure trove full of free entertainment. Use it! For a more organic integration, they could substitute the classic “attract mode” into an opt-in video of a recent tournament or Top 5 moments clip. Drive more views by offering small amounts of FM for watching videos.
When Sony was still a CPT sponsor, they offered FM for watching select live events for PS4 users. This needs to come back for everybody. Team up with Twitch or any other streaming platform and make it a standard feature.
Sell Titles and other things just like the banners in Dota 2 so people can offer their support for each player. Make people invested in the CPT and their players!
2. A “Road to Capcom Cup” Mode
A World Tour derivative that is split into two different single-player modes.
Provide a story outside of the game’s lore that promotes the CPT. Make it a story of starting from nowhere and fighting your way up to the top. From local events to international events, finding sponsors, etc..
You could even make a fun tutorial. Helping people to learn the fundamentals in a meaningful and fun way with a story. All of this, while promoting the CPT. It doesn’t even need high budget CGI or anything, just use artworks like the character stories.
Story Tutorial Example: The player goes to a local event and loses. A veteran player comes forward and starts giving advice. Going from smaller things like special move buffering to deeper things like frame data.
Story Example: A rival appears and rises up with you, meeting at several events around the country and countries.
Progression Example: Win tournaments to build up savings to travel to other tournaments. Go small or big, that’s the players own choice. Gain fame by winning or other things such as playing unusual characters, showing success with your main character of your choice. Sign up with sponsors after gaining enough attention and begin traveling internationally.
At the start of each CPT Season put all events into the game and unlock extra events as the Season progresses. Link each event to their streams to watch, offer some FM for going through this mode. Let people create fantasy brackets before the events to ramp up some additional interest into the players and events.
SFV heavily lacks any meaningful single player content that offers FM. These might be good compromises.
Street Fighter has been a household name since the dawn of competitive fighting games. It might sound unfair but I think it should hold itself in high regard to try to be the best, especially in quantifiable qualities such as content. Capcom has already shown that they still got it in them with Resident Evil 2, Monster Hunter World and Devil May Cry V. It’s time to give Street Fighter its dignity back by giving it the care and effort it deserves.
On a little more personal note about Rival Schools: Hideaki Itsuno who is known for Dragon’s Dogma, Street Fighter Alpha, and Devil May Cry has already announced his interest in continuing and finishing Rival Schools as a Trilogy. Before that, I’d like to see Capcom bring both Rival Schools back to modern systems but this time with complete content. If you want to see Rival Schools coming back, be sure to let Itsuno and especially Capcom know: