During Capcom Cup, Street Fighter V’s most recent patch for season 4 was distributed, and it is honestly the best that the game has ever felt to me, personally. There are, naturally, a few questionable mechanics and changes, but, overall, I feel it is the most fun the game has been to play since launch. And I’ve made the decision to take a break from the game entirely. But it’s not the gameplay that’s got me thinking it’s best to stop for awhile. No, the game itself is quite fine, in my opinion. It’s something deeper, something rooted in a corporate culture that is rotting from the inside.
I’d like to not have this be an entirely negative post, so I want to talk about the positives of the two “main” fighters Capcom has going on. Street Fighter V has never been better, in my opinion. The season 4 patch has been plenty of fun, and many of the changes feel natural and make the game flow more smoothly, with most character changes seeming to both balance the game and fit the characters’ playstyles and personalities. Playing Kolin is plenty of fun, and even playing Juri- despite her faults and lack of the extensive offensive tools she had in SFIV- is still fun to play for me. Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite is a game that I don’t particularly play, but it is still great fun to play even casually. The new active switch system is one that, I feel, works better than the more traditional switch mechanism that existed before. Watching the high-level MvCI play has been phenomenal, even without Capcom’s supporting it. Multiple players have been able to keep my interest in the game long after Capcom has appeared to abandon it, even though I don’t even play the game myself. It speaks a lot to the community behind the scene, as well as the game’s fundamentals.
I’ve already talked extensively about why the sponsored ad content is a truly awful, terrible idea. And even how truly terrible they make the game itself look when they’re on. One of the reasons why it’s so bad is because ads are already so pervasive in the game’s main menus- at least for Street Fighter content. The game itself takes quite awhile to load, and even longer to patch likely due to the software development issues dealing with the Unreal Engine. After it does, the first thing the player sees is ad space for DLC that has come out. This, in and of itself, is fine, if not a bit… tacky looking. It was worse before the Arcade Edition came out, with everything looking blockier and generally uglier. With the sponsored ads, even when you try to turn them off, you have to seek out the method to turn them off. It’s adding more steps, and you’re constantly reminded that they’re off, and you know you’re missing out on the bonuses offered to people who leave them on- even if they are miniscule.
We also have Capcom’s mishandling of the Latin America region for its Pro Tour, and the general mishandling of the lower-middle “class” of its high-level play sector. And, even when Capcom does host the Capcom Cup, the event is continuously mired with production issues, and this year even had plenty of nepotism and shenanigans that made the viewing experience lackluster and questionable. Capcom’s esports division and focus on what seems to be quick money grabs is directly detrimental to the Street Fighter experience. It’s distracting, it’s disheartening, and the only thing really holding any of it together is the overall awesome Street Fighter community, even in places where it’s surprising a positive community can be found at all, like r/StreetFighter. (Side note: please follow r/SF’s twitter and Joe Munday’s twitter, they both post great content and Joe’s commentary on the FGC and interviews of FGC members is spectacular and enlightening.)
Capcom has repeatedly messed up with its communities for its games, ever since Street Fighter x Tekken’s launch, all the way through Marvel vs Capcom 3 and into Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. For years, Capcom has run exploitative DLC practices, and Street Fighter V is no different. On top of the base game price, players are expected to shell out money each year again for DLC characters, and then the player is bombarded with costumes, stages, colors, soundtracks, etc. to add in their game- all priced at premiums rather than actual add-ons. Some costumes run almost $5 a pop. And no, fight money is not enough to pay for the majority of these. Now that “free” loot boxes exist with Fighting Chance, there’s even more a player needs to spend fight money on. Players simply do not get enough fight money to be able to purchase what they want. As I was writing this, Capcom announced that there would be no Season Pass DLC for the upcoming SFV characters– but also implied through the wording that more would be on the way. That’s another $6 per character rather than paying for a discounted bundle of them together- more nickel and diming the consumer because getting the 100k fight money simply takes too long and there are already too many things to buy with it.
As a fan of the Street Fighter series, all of these feelings of negativity associated with the game aren’t even really related to the game itself anymore. It’s the company. Capcom is the reason I need a break from its own products. Constantly dealing with a company that seems to… I don’t even know, resent its user base, is just exhausting. And I’m tired. I’m tired of having my brain automatically associate these business dealings with a game that is constantly being dragged down because suits want to exploit more money out of the players. I’m tired of MvCI getting shafted for the mistakes of a company that botched its launch for the second straight MvC game in a row. Genuinely, I feel sorry for the devs who have to watch CPT stickers get placed over the models they worked on.
I’m only one person, and I don’t want this to be inspirational or engaging, or even be relevant to current discussion or discourse on fighting games and their relative business models. I’m writing this because it’s my blog, and this is simply how I feel about the company behind the games I’ve been playing for quite awhile now. There’s a lot of stuff I could also point out that Bandai Namco does wrong regarding DLC practices, or its handling of Tekken World Tour payouts for its best players. But I’m not taking a break from Tekken or Soul Calibur (yet, anyway). This break has been years in the making, and I’m just tapping out until I can either recharge enough to get back into Street Fighter, or when Capcom finally realizes that attempting to milk your entire player base of every coin you can get with some of the shadiest ways you can do it will cost you in the long term picture. In the meantime, I’m just one frustrated player who is done dealing with it all from Capcom, and I don’t think I’m alone in that department.