You can play Street Fighter 6 right now, close to six months before its launch date, as long as you don’t mind being naughty and searching for an unofficial version of the game.
Long before even half the characters planned for Street Fighter 6 became playable during betas, before trailers for the entire cast was released, people were picking apart the game and its mechanics. They are training, and even playing online via third-party tools, getting ready for the full launch of the game in illicit online backrooms. For many Street Fighter 6, or at least a very early version of it, has been out for months.
For months now, clever minds behind the curtain have been tinkering away with Street Fighter 6 files made publicly accessible thanks to betas allowing a select few to test the game early. Due to an unfortunate flaw in the files provided to PC players, a select few were able to break down barriers designed to prevent people playing past the beta period.
This started off as a relatively niche problem, as only those with access to the PC beta (and knowledge of the 'cracked' version of the game) were able to break back into the closed, beta version of Street Fighter 6. However, since this first test period in October, the breach has widened thanks to the continued efforts of online modders. Now, anyone can download a super early version of Street Fighter 6 – as long as they know where to look.
After around an hour of searching, I was able to find both a direct link to SF6 beta files and instructions on how to get it running, as well as Discord servers where like-minded people (after posting a few memes at your expense) were more than happy to help people out with getting the crack. In no time at all, we were able to verify that the SF6 crack exists and is openly downloadable.
Capcom, in an attempt to dissuade naughty people all over the world from getting their grind on way before they were meant to, sent out emails to those they detected jumping back into the beta. This email stated that, by getting back into the beta, they were breaking the terms and conditions players had to of accepted before accepting a build that was only meant to be played during the previously alloted times. Now that anyone can download the beta, even without pre-exisitng access, this appears to have done little to scare players off.
Especially not the online world warriors, the Street Fighter elite – those who were able to track down the crack with just a few Google searches and a Discord server link. Take Francisco, from Brazil. After hearing rumours of the crack online, he asked around the Street Fighter community and found his way – quite easily – back into SF6.
“I understand why Capcom is concerned with people playing the cracked beta,” he says. “It's worried that the image of an unfinished product might hurt sales, but ultimately I don't think that will be negative for the publisher – or for the community as a whole. I doubt Capcom will take more severe actions regarding the crack.”
This lack of concern has allowed a for subgroup of combo Columbuses to emerge, setting sail on the crack to discover powerful attack strings and devastating set-ups long before the majority of the player base have even had a chance to get hands-on with the game. Francisco isn’t worried that this will eat into the long term enjoyment of the game. In fact, he champions an opposing view:
“The game will only get deeper and truly come alive when everyone is playing against each other. I can't even begin to imagine the things the top players will come up with.” He continues: “I think the preliminary lab work being done now will just accelerate the real discovery process once the full game releases. With the basic stuff is covered, everyone else will get a headstart to work on the next level discoveries and development of the meta.”
With a lot of the groundwork done by illicit users, the idea is that the information they seed into Discord servers, Youtube channels, and forums will make that murky early period of uncertainty vanish quickly once the game is officially released.
“That's the nature of fighting games, you can't keep your 'tech' secret. It's much faster to learn from the experimentation and discoveries of others than to try to come up with everything yourself.”
One pro player, who spoke to us under the condition of anonymity, said: “I would be incredibly surprised if you find any top players willing to admit to playing it.” this player hasn’t got the crack, but is not against using it and remains absolutely sympathetic to anyone who decides to.
“Well, there is pressure to be good out-the-gate going into SF6, and it's clearly an advantage if you can keep playing a build of the game whilst others are not, right? You need every advantage you can get, and I can see why it would create pressure to download/use it”
As for what impact this’ll have on the competitive scene as a whole? The pro we spoke to believes it’ll eventually even out with the game’s full release, but an advantage will be tangible in those early months.
“I completely understand others' ire at people playing the cracked betas. There is a good chance that whilst the actual final release will be very different, the fact people get to spend time with the actual mechanics of the game before release in a manner that others cannot will be an advantage, for sure.
“I don't feel it will be too much of an advantage a few months after release, but there will be an advantage.”
So there likely will be an affect on the competitive environment surrounding Street Fighter 6. That being said, this isn’t the first time a smaller portion of the global fan base for a fighting game has had early access. Historically, fighting games had been released in Japanese arcades long before they got a console release, resulting in Eastern domination for big budget titles (like Tekken 7, for example, early on). Or take Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, where certain players openly admitted to testing the game before being set lose on the local events in their region.
It’s crazy how badly you spoke about me on your stream, telling people that I have no integrity and that I shouldn’t be allowed to enter tournaments… but here you are with clear proof that you had the crack… & you entered the tournament.— Chris Tatarian (@Chris_Tatarian) December 18, 2022
Hypocrisy at its finest 😂 https://t.co/kSLznVJF7Y pic.twitter.com/AiBxENglCS
The big issue here, however, is that it’s not just a single region or handful or pros that can access Street Fighter 6 right now. It’s you! It’s me! It’s anyone who can spare a few minutes of their evening to Google or hit up a trusted friend with the hookup.
So should you do it? Probably not. For the vast majority of players, this current version of Street Fighter 6 is will not be entertaining for long, plagued with bugs and lacking the full spread of features and easy accessible online play.
There’s little Capcom can do, at this point, and with a whole community growing around fixing up and figuring out the crack, it’s looking likely that SF6’s piracy problem won’t go away until we get the game proper.