Fighting Gamers Need to Start Demanding More

Last Updated March 4th, 2022

It’s a couple of weeks after one of the most disappointing reveals that Capcom has ever made, and the memes continue flying around the internet.

If you aren’t part of the fighting game community, here’s the story. Capcom put an ominous countdown timer on their website last month, counting down to the end of the Capcom Cup, their major tournament which, unfortunately, had to be reduced to a series of exhibitions this year due to COVID.

So of course, everyone got excited. What could it be? What new info would we find out?

Well…

We all collectively agreed that Street Fighter 6 was the barest of bare minimums that Capcom could have announced and, man, was it even more minimum than we first thought.

This is a totally pre-rendered CGI trailer of Luke, a character that we knew as going to be in Street Fighter 6 due to Capcom straight out saying it when they included him in Street Fighter V, and Ryu, whom Capcom had ALSO already confirmed for Street Fighter 6, after a discussion about the importance of legacy characters.

So in short, this was a CGI teaser for a game we already knew existed, with characters we already knew were going to be in it, with no other information to give outside of its logo which looks like the high-school “cool S” and an iPhone notification icon had a baby.

But wait, that’s not all. Capcom also revealed the Capcom Fighting Collection, a collection of 10 fighting games from throughout their history.

… It includes FIVE Darkstalkers games, which is neat but is also kind of a slap in the face to everyone who wants a new Darkstalkers to come out. It also includes Gem Fighter, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Cyberbots, Red Earth, and a repackage of Hyper Street Fighter II. All of the games have rollback and…

This is just a worse version of Fightcade!!!

Look, there are reasons to get hype for new fighting games. Street Fighter 6’s models are certainly interesting. If it runs in the RE Engine, it will certainly look good.

But again, everything in this teaser is everything we already knew, except for Luke’s new design. Heck, even Ryu is wearing his “hot old man” Ryu costume which we were already aware of.

This announcement fractured the FGC into two camps, one who thought that the Street Fighter 6 teaser was the craziest thing ever and another that Capcom built up a lot of hype over nothing.

Then again maybe the fracture was always there.

There is a growing movement of discontent fighting gamers that are noticing something strange about the way fighting games are marketed and sold, and I am one of them. The straw that broke the camel’s back, at least in recent weeks, was the recent release of The King of Fighters XV.

Now don’t get me wrong. KOFXV is a phenomenal game. Truly, truly phenomenal. The mechanics are great. The soundtrack is great. The character designs are amazing.

… and it doesn’t work. It just does not work. The PS5 version has 5-6 frames of input lag in offline mode. The Xbox version has less lag but crashes randomly. The PC version plays the best out of all of them… if you can set it up. It has a broken vSync that drops random inputs and causes incredible input lag, and to fix it you have to manually go into the user settings ini and change things around.

And for a brief moment we all realized, what the heck are we doing? If this was presented to fans of any other genre it would be considered a travesty. When was the last time a big name FPS was released without working graphics options on PC? When was a major adventure game released with input lag that verged on making the game unplayable?

And when has any other genre been OK with being given a countdown for a teaser that revealed information we already knew?

The FGC is so starved for content that they are willing to look charitably at everything that fighting game developers do, even if they are light years behind the rest of the gaming world. Just look at rollback netcode. This is something that shooters have had in some format for decades and major fighting game developers are starting to implement it JUST NOW because of pressure put on them due to the COVID -19 pandemic.

Guilty Gear –Strive- started to popularize rollback netcode, except its lobby system is barely functional, another thing no other genre of game would say is OK.

Some of this happens because fighting games have notoriously small budgets compared to other AAA games, so it’s clear that even big projects struggle when it comes to QA. However, it’s these sloppy mistakes that make the fighting game community feel insular. A random mainstream newbie isn’t going to know how to text edit an ini file to prevent their game from dropping inputs, and a random mainstream gamer isn’t going to understand why a 39-second trailer featuring half a punch is something to get hype for.

Maybe if we want fighting games to be accessible to mainstream gamers we have to hold them to the standards of other mainstream games, and right now we absolutely aren’t. “Good enough,” might just not be good enough, and every time we let a fighting game developer get away with rookie mistakes, we are letting the genre slip further and further away from mainstream accessibility.

In short, Arc System Works, SNK, and Capcom… do better. Because the charity of the FGC won’t last forever.

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