Capcom has forgotten that casuals are important to the fighting game genre

first_imgI’ve been playing fighting games ever since Street Fighter II launched in 1991. I remember going to local convenience stores, bodegas, and proper arcade halls to play games like Street Fighter Alpha, Virtua Fighter 2, DarkStalkers, X-Men vs Street Fighter, and much more. This is a genre that is part of my gamer DNA and one I am extremely fond of.With that said, I have never considered myself part of the Fighting Game Community (FGC). I like playing the games with my buddies and doing cool moves, but I was never interested or invested in learning all of the re-dizzy combos, technical jargon, or setting time aside to watch stuff like EVO or the Capcom Pro Tour. I just like to get some matches in for fun and go through a fighter’s story mode to unlock neat stuff and work my way to the character’s various endings. It seems that with Street Fighter V, however, people like myself are being left behind in favor of the FGC crowd.The game launched with a bare minimum of features that hardly make it worth the $60 Capcom is asking for. There’s a story mode that can be completed in roughly two hours, Versus Mode where you can fight against someone in the room with you, Survival Mode, Training Mode, and Online Mode. That’s it. While it’s true that many will dive right into the online portion of the game and never look back, there are even more who aren’t necessarily interested in competing with others online and want a full single player experience.I’m sure that some of you reading this are saying to yourselves, “Those people don’t matter, they aren’t the ones who keep fighting games alive and thriving.” While there is some truth to this, I’ll argue that the casual crowd is actually extremely important to fighting games, and without them, the genre will become even more niche and underground than it already is.Think about your friends who play fighting games. What do they like to do most of the time? They like to pick a character they think is cool, go through story mode with them, and see their ending. They may do this with several other characters as well, if not all of them. They might continue playing in order to unlock different costumes, modes, or other characters. They may even want to go against you online as well and have a good time. This type of player, the casual player, constitutes the majority of those who buy fighting games. They want to play the game, do some cool combos, and then move on. This person may not stick it out for the long haul, but they are fans — and customers — regardless.Let’s go beyond the casual crowd for a minute and look at those who are heavily invested in the FGC. The majority of these people will never actively compete in a tournament. They may attend EVO or watch it online and understand the more advanced fundamentals of whichever game they’re invested in, but they aren’t going to be actively participating because their skill level isn’t on par with pros like Justin Wong or Daigo Umehara. Do you think that every person that goes to EVO is a competitive player? Of course not. They’re simply fans of the genre who want to see the best of the best compete.Despite the fact that the majority of those who purchase SFV will never compete in a tournament, Capcom is actively ignoring these folks in favor of the competitive gamer. The whole reason SFV launched when it did was so it could be ready for the Capcom Pro Tour, which kicks off this week. It’s clear that the casual crowd is no longer Capcom’s focus and this is to the detriment of Street Fighter V and the fighting game genre as a whole.Hardcore fighting purists may scoff at them, but there is nothing wrong with a person who just buys a fighting game, plays it for a few weeks, and then shelves it, perhaps dusting it off whenever new features are added or when their friends come over. These are the folks who will insure that copies of the game are sold. Yes, selling copies of a game doesn’t do much for its competitive scene, but it does help make the game profitable for whichever company funded it. Casuals ensure that future fighting games will be made.A perfect example of how to handle a fighting game that appeals to both the casual and hardcore crowd is with the two most recent Mortal Kombat games. A player can spend dozens of hours or more playing the game’s various single player modes and never once go online to play against others.Mortal Kombat’s arcade mode is now the gold standard for fighting games since it gives players a deep and rich storyline that lets them play with a wide variety of characters. And then of course there is the Challenge Tower that contains 300 unique challenges to complete. This mode offers rewards and currency upon completion, which then allows players to unlock even more content.Both of the last two MK games have been huge successes for NetherRealm Studios and have sold millions of copies each. Do you think the majority of the people who bought the titles are super hardcore fighting game aficionados? No, they’re mostly regular gamers who just want to see some fatalities and watch their favorite characters’ stories. More importantly, they are also instrumental in ensuring that we’ll get more Mortal Kombat games down the line. Mortal Kombat may not be as big competitively now, but it is a highly successful game because of the casual crowd.The big problem with Street Fighter V being so bare at launch and having it exclude casuals is that this will affect sales. It’s already being reported that SFV has sold less copies at launch than its predecessor, Street Fighter IV. While that title was heavily geared towards the competitive player, it still contained enough features for the casual crowd. It was a full experience at launch that only got better over time. While SFV will improve as well, this doesn’t excuse it only targeting competitive players. The game is already generating bad word of mouth which will no doubt impact how many copies it will sell in the future. This is an industry that doesn’t forget, and SFV will always be remembered as the game with no features.As I said before, this is a genre that is dear to me so I would hate for it to become virtually irrelevant because of what Capcom has done with SFV. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. When the time comes that all of the missing features of SFV finally surface, very few reviewers will go back to update the game’s score. SFV will always be stuck with the lackluster reviews it has received and this in turn may affect the release of future Capcom fighting games. This would be a shame considering how Capcom fighting games are the most popular ones out there.While the hardcore FGC crowd is very important for a fighting game’s longevity, they are not the ones who make the genre successful. The casual crowd are the ones that will buy millions of copies of a game and fill seats at EVO. Capcom is doing itself and the genre a great disservice by only catering to the competitive crowd, and I can only hope that other companies making fighting games remember who they really need to focus on if they want their games to sell and be profitable.last_img