It’s been a long few weeks between vacations and computer malfunctions, but I’ve returned to the land of the living. Today’s topic is a bit personal and as we enter the fall stretch of the Capcom Pro Tour. I’d like to talk about some of the growing issues concerning Street Fighter V and its’ continued support. There should be no surprise that I’m invested in how well SFV and the Capcom Pro Tour do, but as a longtime fan, competitor and writer, I have some serious concerns.
The game is in a state of turmoil and Capcom has been borderline oblivious for a majority of the issues that are killing interest. Player counts are still high, but there is a noted stagnancy in tournament play and there is a clear disillusionment with a lot of the scene. I have a few points to make, but a lot of my concerns lie with how Capcom is handling the game and we’ll start there.
The Capcom Problem
Street Fighter V has had many issues since launch. I’ve noted in previous articles that the game shipped missing a multitude of features and Capcom’s rush to get the game out by the start of the 2016 Capcom Pro Tour is partly to blame. The game shipped with training mode, online play and character stories that could be completed in an hour. The game was missing challenges, arcade mode, a dedicated story mode and numerous other features found in competing fighting games. The netcode was a noticeable step down from previous iterations and online play was plagued with rage quitters.
As the game progressed, we saw numerous fixes for the rage quitting issues and new features added, but the game’s optimization was called into question. Street Fighter V was found to have eight frames of input lag which is almost double the normal standard. This has led to a plethora of complaints in the community and has created a stagnancy in competitive play.
Capcom’s response to all this has been middling. The rage quit system has seen numerous revisions before an effective strategy emerged. New modes and characters have been patched in, but as of August we are still missing features. The planned September update will add arcade mode and daily challenges, but Capcom has favored micro-transactions over actually balancing survival mode for players to unlock colors.
Capcom has mentioned balance changes and a fix for the eight frames of lag, but these changes won’t go into effect until the end of the 2016 Capcom Pro Tour. When confronted on these issues by GameSpot’s Tamoor Hussein, Capcom doubled down on its’ story mode as a promise to satisfy upset players. Capcom’s ineptitude and unwillingness to patch have directly led to the stagnation in tournament results.
Final Round, CEO and Evo were three of the biggest tournaments this year and all three have seen a similar result with Seonwoo “Infiltration” Lee cleaning house. Infiltration is one of the best players in the world, but his dominance represents an issue with Street Fighter V’s balancing.
I’d like to note that I don’t think Infiltration wins because he plays Nash because that is an insult to his skill. However Street Fighter V’s tier list is skewed with Ryu, Chun-Li, Ken and Nash being leagues above the rest of the cast. Grapplers like Zangief and Alex struggle against most of the cast even in the hands of capable players like Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis. Snake Eyez Zangief play in IV was a force to be reckoned with and even international players like Japan’s Hiromiki “Itabashi Zangief” Kumada have been floundering in tournaments.
The eight frames of lag factors into these issues as well. Player reactions are one of the biggest factors in fighting games and entire strategies are formed around them. Reaction is especially important for aging players like Daigo Umehara and Alex Valle who plan their strategies around mind games instead of pure reaction time. The eight frames of lag can create situations where certain moves can’t be countered. It leads to situations where dashing in someone’s face and throwing them is impossible to tech or where a dashing sweep will always result in a knockdown. The input delay puts a greater emphasis of mind games and strategic play, but it still creates unreactable situations and leads characters who depend on reactions to be fundamentally useless. Capcom is walking a fine line right now, but there is a way to fix most of these issues.
The Path Ahead
Capcom’s behavior has been sketchy, but we’ve hit the last quarter of the CPT. October has The Fall Classic, SoCal Regionals and Canada Cup and the next months are sparse up until Capcom Cup. Realistically, the September patch looks to fix some of the content issues and we’ll see the final DLC character added to the roster. The game’s sales have floundered and adding additional content may help, but that only helps for the casual side.
The end of the CPT is going to be make or break and I think we’ll see a second wave of DLC and a possible Free to Play shell for SFV similar to Killer Instinct or Dead or Alive 5. I do believe that a fix for the lag issue is coming and realistically that could shake up the current game. Street Fighter V’s accessibility is fantastic and empowering a set of players who rely on reactionary play will bolster the player base. The absolute worst case scenario is that Capcom ignores balance changes and the eight frames of lag.
Thank you all for reading. My time away has been up and down, but I should be back regularly now that my PC is fixed. I have a second article planned for the end of the week focusing on an underutilized Killer Instinct Character.
Seth Hall has been playing fighting games for the last four years and writing for the last two. He can be found on twitter @themanseries and will be competing at The Fall Classic in Raleigh, North Carolina.
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