Is rebranding the answer to the game’s woes?
Street Fighter V has not made the best impression in its first two years. As much as it has in common with prior Street Fighter titles, it’s still a product significantly different than what the fanbase expected, and this is reflected in its low sales and negative press. The approach of releasing a “service” rather than a complete game has created an ongoing sense of dissatisfaction from the community; functions visible but locked off in the CFN system only just started doing something in the latest update, nearly a year-and-a-half since launch. The roster has grown from 16 characters to 25 — but barely any new modes have been added, aside from minimal training content and a divisive cinematic story mode. Calls to overhaul core aspects of the game go unanswered — such as the reads-not-reactions input latency, and the infuriating rollback netcode — but we do regularly get new premium costumes to buy.
With new titles from competing publishers like Injustice 2, Tekken 7, and the Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 update releasing to general acclaim and positive reviews, Capcom is in a tougher spot than ever. Loyalty to the Street Fighter brand can only hold fans so long through months of disappointment and frustration, so what’s there to do? How do you please existing players, while attracting new ones? They could just throw all their eggs into the Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite basket. Or — maybe it’s time for a rebrand.
An old, amorphous leak recrystallized recently, its most recent appearance being on r/Kappa as part of a long post by Rikurikumore. (It’s also being discussed on NeoGAF.) Consisting of supposedly leaked character and mode information for both Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite and Street Fighter V, the popularity of this leak list has grown through the confirmation of a number of its claims. Its MvC:I roster is looking very accurate so far. The section in question here is near the end of the post — after reiterating the older leak that claims Abigail, Menat, and Zeku are the remaining Season 2 DLC fighters for SFV (this has gained credibility through the older leak naming Akuma and Ed before they were announced), the post goes on to drop its “bombshell”: Super Street Fighter V.
The claim: instead of Season 3, Capcom will announce Super Street Fighter V for year three. As to not contradict their original promise — only having to buy the game once — SSFV will be a free update to SFV. It will include a user interface overhaul, and the following:
- Arcade Mode
- “Extra Battle” mode
- a PvE mode where you battle the Illuminati
- some “expanding on the existing mechanics”
- new Critical Arts
… and maybe more! But that isn’t even what catches the most attention: the post also names the next six DLC fighters for the first year of SSFV, and it’s all returning characters:
- C. Viper
Supposedly, we can expect Capcom to officially announce Super Street Fighter V before the end of the Capcom Pro Tour, possibly at Capcom Cup itself. There is some speculation that Capcom might even drop the news this week at E3 2017.
Is this “leak” reliable? Or is it sheer fiction and/or speculation? There’s no way yet to be sure it’s the latter. There’s no way to rule out that it may be the former, either. The main source of credibility in this instance is the growing accuracy of the Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite character roster leak preceding it, and the likelihood-by-association of the Super Street Fighter V information being coupled with the highly-likely Season 2 character list. The reddit user even jokes that Alex Valle already leaked the next character DLC list for SFV earlier on Twitter, in the form of a joke:
If Capcom announced Sagat, Q, Sakura, Viper, Oro, and Necro for S3, y'all would not be able to contain yourselves.
— Alex Valle (@TheAlexValle) May 9, 2017
Does Valle know something we don’t? Necro is already in a stage background (Spooky Arena), C. Viper, Oro, and Sakura all appear in character story modes, and Sagat and Q are among the most-requested characters to return.
Hmm… maybe DreamHack didn’t make a mistake, and was just ahead of the curve…?
— Jimmy_Shoegazer (@jimmy_shoegazer) May 1, 2017
Or if you prefer the conspiracy-theory approach, maybe Capcom was planning this all along — based on the photographic evidence from Alex’s license plate in the City in Chaos stage:
From a cynical standpoint, the SSFV rumor seems suspicious simply because it reads like a community wish list. We cried for Arcade Mode (well, I personally didn’t, but that’s another article), we cried for Q, we begged for Sagat to return. Capcom should be taking community feedback into account — but so far, it barely has. It’s hard to believe now that the developers are finally listening.
So, let’s just suppose this rumor is dead-on accurate, and Capcom will be hitting us with a Super upgrade next year. Will it accomplish anything?
Community reaction to a “Super” SFV rebrand along these lines has been generally positive, supporting the idea that a SSFV could be spun into an effective relaunch of a “new,” more complete product. This could result in improved public perception of the Street Fighter brand — provided it is a free upgrade, and it doesn’t fragment the player base. James Chen talks about this at length in an episode of Unchensored (NSFW, as suggested by the title!).
I agree with this to a degree; it will likely boost sales somewhat, and positive press may draw back frustrated players that have dropped the game to retry it. A Street Fighter V that has washed away the complaints about poor offline content will undoubtedly be a stronger presence in the fighting game community — and things like an Arcade Mode, and a mode to beat up CPU Illuminati, will help support that elusive “casual” customer. Bringing back fan-favorite characters like Sakura, Q, and especially Sagat will foster even more goodwill (presuming they don’t change too much). New Critical Arts may help add some asked-for variety (although, I believe the call for new V-Skills/V-Triggers has been louder). And it’s hard to complain about a free upgrade. If Super SFV cost an extra $30, that’d be a much different matter.
That casual consumer market might easily jump on and enjoy Super Street Fighter V — if they look past the old Champion Edition/Super/Turbo/Ultra re-release silliness. A “Super” prefix could indeed be just the thing Street Fighter V needs to clean up its stained image — for the more casual gamer. However, unless the things that serious players have voiced issues with loudly and repeatedly — input latency, poor netcode, player 2 rematch control — are not effectively addressed, the improvements offered by a Super upgrade won’t make much difference among the competitive community. A new coat of paint won’t make a lemon run.
For the sake of their fans, for the sake of Street Fighter, and for the sake of Capcom themselves, I want them to get it right.