If you don’t know or care about EVO or the Capcom Cup, the Street Fighter 5 on sale now is not for you.
"Unlike what vehement defenders of Street Fighter 5 would have you believe, casual players are the most important part of making an online game remain relevant. It’s why you'll always find people who play Battlefield or Call of Duty. Three or four months from now, when all that’s left are the hardcore, there won't be enough fighting to go around."
I hadn't been following pre-release coverage of Street Fighter 5 very closely. I played a few minutes of one of the betas, and thought the V-Trigger system was a nice addition that I felt I needed to explore more of in the full game.
Part of the reason I didn't play the beta that much is because it was set up in such a way that the goal was to always get you matched up with other players ASAP. Everything else didn't matter, and it’s because of that I was stuck battling brain-dead AI until the game found me another player to lose to.
I didn't think much of it, and figured the full game is where I'll get my standard versus CPU matches and play some story mode/challenges, my meat and potatoes when it comes to fighting games. Little did I know the current Street Fighter 5 offering is a lot like the beta, only with more characters.
Reading review after review, I was left in disbelief that the default way to play solo in any fighting game, is missing. Apart from an incredibly short story "prologue", there really isn't a lot there for you if your first order of business isn't to go head-to-head with others.
Unfortunately for me, I am one of the casual fighting game players who buy those games first and foremost to play CPU matches, story mode, and similar single-player content.
The other day, a few friends of mine and I were debating whether or not getting the game now is worthwhile, even if just to play against one another. We had some good fun with Mortal Kombat X as well as older games. Online lobbies filled with friends are always a blast, and it’s where you’ll find me for the most part. The skill gap is wide enough that unless I dedicate time to "git gud", my skills will always be lacking, and friendly scrims will remain my favourite.
Of course, Street Fighter 5's lobbies are only for two players. A fact I quickly recalled as we were talking, bringing the conversation to a cuss-filled halt, with the clear decision to wait and see. Think of the many casual Street Fighter and fighting games fans around the world who reached the same conclusion. Or worse, the ones who bought it expecting to find the bare minimum of modes you expect from a modern game, only to quickly sell their copies.
For all of Capcom’s talk about making Street Fighter 5 more appealing to new players, a mantra that extends to the design of the actual fighting, the package available right now for $60 flies in the face of that.
In fact, selling the game for $60 now on the promise of more is misleading, because you’re never told upfront what's in it right now and what's planned for later. It’s not on the back of the box. I would've much rather seen a "starter pack" option - which I bet will happen six months from now – selling for $30 or $40 which gives you all current and future single-player content with only a basic online option.
If you want more characters, if you want to earn Fight Money or think you’ll be playing this game for years to come, buy a "full edition" upgrade. This guarantees an influx of new players who are not yet sure about the game, and makes the day one product appear in a much brighter light.
This isn't an argument of quantity over quality. It’s a basic comparison anyone looking to buy the game will be making. Compared to modern fighting games, the number of missing features is astounding. It’s only when you look at Mortal Kombat X, the other big fighting franchise and the game’s direct competitor, that you really begin to realise how lacking it is.
Unlike what vehement defenders of Street Fighter 5 would have you believe, casual players are the most important part of making an online game remain relevant, and essential to its longevity. It’s why you'll always find people to play Battlefield or Call of Duty with, no matter when you pick these games up.
Three or four months from now, when all that’s left are the hardcore, there won't be enough fighting to go around. And ultimately, when the player-base dwindles from lack of new blood, it will mean less people watching the Capcom Cup on Twitch, and less people interested in the game in general.
For many fighting game fans, Street Fighter 5 stands as one of the most disappointing releases of 2016. A game that doesn't know if it wants to be a free-to-play online-only title, or a proper, meaty game like the ones Capcom used to make.
I did not buy the game and don’t intend to do so any time soon, at least until they patch in Arcade and story modes. I only hope that by the time those come around, my interest in Street Fighter 5 won’t be all but gone.