Video game publisher Capcom has been releasing tons of info on the next installment in its classic fighting game series, Street Fighter V. Among the game’s updates, the multi-faceted publisher has revealed new and returning characters (including Necalli, an Aztec sort of berserker and the series’ absolute newest character as of last weekend) as well as new mechanics (V-Trigger, a character specific ability utilizing the V-gauge [which is filled by taking damage] and V-skill, yet another character specific ability which requires no meter management).
The most important update by far, however, has been Capcom’s outline of SFV’s update model, which will ideally become their standard model, as well as the standard model for other fighting games.
The World Warrior
The first and most important part of Capcom’s new approach to updating the game of the is that the new characters will never need to be purchased; instead, they can be unlocked in-game by using the game’s own “Fight Money” to purchase them. Of course, this means you’ll have to grind for Fight Money to be able to unlock these characters, but that’s so much better than putting actual money down to purchase them (which, of course, you can still do). This is an absolutely fantastic change, as it requires players to put time into their $60 game, and it prevents Capcom from embarrassingly putting out five billion different versions of the same game.
The second part of this new approach is that it makes updates to the game’s actual engine much easier for players to acquire, which is incredibly important to participants in the competitive scene. Previously, players always had to buy the latest installation of Street Fighter to get the updates to the characters and the game’s engine. This pissed a lot of players off and made updating the game viciously infrequent, meaning that fixing any problems in a new version required you to wait until an even newer version was released.
The new, free online updates are great because any much-needed tweaks to the game’s system can be made very quickly, preventing people from having to buy a several different versions of a game just for balance tweaks and new characters.
Follow The Leader
It’s appropriate that Capcom should be the one to first implement this model of content updates, considering that beyond the mere sin of microtransactions, they also had the distinction of releasing multiple retail updates to their core game. It’s also great because SFV will inevitably eclipse SFIV and other fighting games in terms of popularity and competitive coverage. This should become the standard model for fighting game updates, both in terms of character unlocks and fine tuning of the game’s mechanics and characters.
Other publishers and their fighters are still falling prey to the temptation of charging their dedicated player bases with microtransactions, an inconvenience regardless of the actual price. Capcom is expected to see success with SFV and hopefully this success inspires other fighting game developers to make their characters in-game unlocks instead of DLC bait.
There doesn’t seem to be any apparent downsides to Capcom’s new method of updating their game. Through the magic of digital distribution and online updating, the game can be touched up cosmetically, its content can be increased, its balance can be maintained and it will have the benefit of keeping everyone playing the game, competitive or otherwise, up to date on all of this.
Even if other, newer games don’t really get a clue and begin to use this update model, it is a damned good thing that Capcom has, as their game is at the forefront of popularity and publicity in the fighting game community, and it would be more than shameful for them not to get their act together. Thanks to this and other updates to Street Fighter’s system and characters, fans of fighting games should have a truly special product to look forward to.