Capcom’s battle to bring Street Fighter to the masses

Street Fighter IV, while a hugely popular brawler, was not exactly a title that welcomed newcomers.

Especially towards the end of Street Fighter IV’s long lifecycle, players had to master some complex systems and be ready to fight up to 44 characters.?

But with Street Fighter V, which arrives next week for PS4 and PC, Capcom is attempting to remedy this.

Street Fighter V feels like a bit of a reset in terms of something that more casual players want to get excited about because it’s a brand new game with a brand new engine, brand new stock game and brand new characters and everything that could come along with that,” brand manager Brian Ayers (pictured above left) explains.

But also, it’s a bit of a reset on the community side of things and the pro-gamer side of things. They’re all starting from the same page. For this game, we’re trying very much to make it newcomer or lapsed fan-friendly. That’s one of the big points of Street Fighter V is it’s welcoming people in different ways.”

In the new game, input windows – the time in which players enter commands – are more generous, as are the way in which links – the split second windows in which players can stun their opponents and string together combos – work.

Character movement is slower, and each attack deals a large amount of damage, meaning that seasoned pros might take a more cautious approach even when against new players.

Not that making the game accessible to the masses has in any way diminished the series’ notoriously high skill ceiling.

We’ve had certain pro-gamers and high-level community gamers eager to look at Street Fighter V,” Ayers says.

They can see that we’re saying it’s more accessible, more casual-friendly and they want to get to grips with the depth of it. We’re seeing it already before the game has already launched because we’ve been playing the game for a year between us. And our community manager Matthew Edwards, for example, has played every build that we’ve released for every event, and sees videos captured from the beta that are doing moves and combos that he didn’t even know were possible and he’s a pro-level gamer. We can’t wait to see what people do with the game once it’s released in terms of finding those different depths. They will be stuff that people take advantage of and exploit that surprise the developers.”

One of the big focuses for Street Fighter V is the eSports scene, with Capcom previously telling MCV that it wanted the title to be the No.1 competitive title. And the publisher is taking its fighting title on the road with the Capcom Pro Tour.

It’s kicked off quite recently, but we’ve been in quite a strange position where we have been promoting Street Fighter V but IV is still the focus of the pro scene,” Ayers explains.

This year marks the first time that Street Fighter V will be the core, base game that’s being played at a Capcom Pro Tour. With that, we’ve got a big investment and a partnership with Sony, which plays, into that. PlayStation is interested in working with us in the long- un. And we can’t say too much about it, but we’re speaking to some quite high-level sponsors about what they can bring to it, whether it’s bigger events, increasing prize pools. That’s one thing we have done, for this year we are increasing the prize pool quite dramatically. It does feel that a big part of eSports is how big your ultimate prizes are. That’s starting to get competitive now.

We’re also taking the game to new markets for the first time as part of the Capcom Pro Tour. We were in Russia at Igromir last year to debut Zangief – it was great to unveil the returning Russian character in Russia. Whilst we were there, we were exploring the fact there was a really thriving fighting game community over there. We’ve worked with them ever since that show and we’re going to have a stop-off in Moscow for the Pro Tour for the first time. Same applies to Dubai, which is a big growth market for us as a publisher. But also, looking at the fan base on the consumer side of things.”

Commercial director Andy Davis (pictured top right) adds: Commercially that’s quite important on this one. We fully localised into Arabic for the first time. Street Fighter V is the first game that is fully localised and we had a good presence at [UAE consumer show] Games 15 last year as well.”

Another way that Capcom is making Street Fighter V accessible is the way in which it is released.

Previous iterations of Street Fighter featured a base game – such as Street Fighter IV – which was updated with new characters, stages and costumes through subsequent launches, for example – Super Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition and Ultra Street Fighter IV.

Capcom has ditched this release plan for Street Fighter V. All consumers need to play the game is the base disc that launches next week. Subsequent content, including stages, modes, characters and costumes, can be bought in-game with currency called Fight Money or can be purchased with real money or ‘Zenny’ as it is called in-game.

We’ve been quite honest in saying that Street Fighter V – the disc or digital edition – is the only version that you’ll ever need,” Ayers says.

You’ll never have to buy or be forced to buy anotheriterationfurtherdown the line. What that means is you don’t split the player base. Everyone can always just buy that game and know that two, three years down the line and know they can jump back in whether they are just spectating or being a competitor.”

He continues: We want Street Fighter V to last a console generation. That’s a very brave move from the business side of things. But that is how we are looking at the product as well. It’s not: ‘right, get it out, it’s the first six months and then it’s done’. We’re talking lifetime on this now in years rather than quarters, which I think is quite telling in itself.”

Davis adds: It’s much more about the longer game with Street Fighter. We’re not having the other iterations coming and that was a brave decision for us to make. Although we had a lot of different versions of Street Fighter IV, every single one was commercially successful, all the way up to Ultra Street Fighter IV. We’ve made the decision to not do those because we want to give the fans what they want, we’ll give them the extra content but it’ll be digital downloads and it will be stuff they can earn for free in the game. It’s about us listening to the fans feedback rather than looking at just numbers.”

And the way the content drops are happening should help us keep the sales up and the stock available and the interest there from the consumers as well.”

Of course, Street Fighter V is not the only fighting game to launch in recent years. In 2015, Koei Tecmo released the latest version of Dead or Alive, while Warner Bros launched a new iteration in its famously violent Mortal Kombat series. And that latter title has left its mark on Street Fighter V.

I’m a big believer in healthy competition breeding better products for the consumer,” Ayers says.

Mortal Kombat under Warner Bros has significantly raised the bar in lots of different ways. Last year’s Mortal Kombat X went very hardcore on its single player elements and we realised that we needed have an answer to that – not to Warner Bros directly, but we needed to satisfy what the consumer demands.

For the first time, we’ve got a full cinematic

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