Imagine if Super Street Fighter 4 was Free to Play


#1

Hi everybody, this is my first post and first thread on this board ever so I’d like to introduce myself first and give you an idea how my views came together before touching the actual subject of this topic:

I’m a 32 year old gamer from Germany with a love for video games.
I’ve played a couple of fighting games in my time including Street Fighter II - World Warrior, Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat 1-3, Tekken 3 and Soul Edge/Calibur.

I considered myself good at all of these games and I have to note that I only ever played the home console ports of these games, since there has never been an Arcade culture in Germany, since our laws see every machine you throw money into and play with, as gambling and since gambling is restricted to people of 18+ years of age over here, arcade cabinets were only bought in very small numbers and totally failed to reach their target audience (which were kids before/in/after puberty at that time).
So basically I considered myself good at these games because I completely destroyed every single one of my friends/neighbours/aquaintances in these games until they quit playing with me since they saw it as pointless to contest me.
Was always dreaming of competing with the best kids of the world in tournaments but that kind of stuff, not even local tournaments, existed at that time and so when I got like 20 or 21 years old I quit fighting games altogether since there’s really no point for me in cheesing out an ai all day. I wanted to fucking beat myself and my shitty habits during practice, in order to best other people who do the same.

Went over to pc gaming and started playing Warcraft III and ultimately DotA after the WCIII scene went downhill and was really impressed with the huge world wide communities of online players in these games with the rise of the internet.
When Valve recently took over DotA and produced Dota 2 I immediately got into the beta and played the game ever since.

Couple of month ago fighting games sparked my interest when a crazy ex-girlfriend of mine posted me a youtube link that left me breathless. Guess you know what it was: Daigo Umehara on Ken vs Justin Wong on Chun Li in the EVO SFIII finals.
Holy fucking shitballs, I didn’t even know that people still played Street Fighter and I couldn’t even imagine that someone could execute in this game on that level.

So I watched the latest EVO, got myself SSF4:AE on Steam at the latest summer sale and I only have one thing to say:

I’m fucking disappointed.

Not by the game itself.
It’s amazing and one of the best fighting games ever made. The gameplay is fantastic and it has a similarity with my 2 other favorite games ever made which are Dota and Chess: Right when you pick them up, they spit in your face and tell you that you suck shitballs and that you will suck for a long time even if you put a lot of work into them and that you’ll never be able to truly play them perfectly since they have a skill cap that is almost unreachable (in Dota that’s more the teamwork part but that’s beside the point) but holy shit they’re fun and suck you in.

What disappointed me was the small player base and the horrible online play.
Like what in the actual fuck? It’s 2013 and Capcom seriously releases an amazing game with the shittiest online play I’ve witnessed since the year 2000. Peer to peer? In a competitive fighting game? They don’t even have the decency to offer dedicated servers to prevent cheating and offer a more or less lag free experience for users on both ends?

Everytime I play Starcraft 2 and Dota 2 online I really can’t believe that SSF4 is supposed to be in the same generation of games.

Now finally to my point and the purpose of this thread:

Dota 2 and LoL have a huge playerbase and are highly competitive (LoL is a game for braindead retards though and is to Dota 2 what Dive Kick is to SSF4). The reason why those games blow Starcraft 2 completely out of the water in terms of prize money, event size and overall sponsorship money is pretty simple. It’s not because they require more skill or strategic thinking or are overall the better games compared to Starcraft 2, it’s just the business model.
Starcraft 2 is a standard pay to play game. It gets a huge influx of people when it gets released and smaller waves of new users on every expansion/addon they release.
The problem is that there’s actually more people quitting the game than joining. Since the game gets older and flashier games get released the influx of new players cannot make up for the loss of old players until the point where only a very small hardcore community exists and sponsors withdraw their funding until very little to no tournaments exist which erradicates the professional scene in that specific game.
The same holds true for fighting games.

Through the accessibility of Dota 2 which solely finances itself through selling cosmetic upgrades that have no influence on the gameplay and is available for everybody, we see the opposite effect:
For every player that leaves the game, we see 5 people picking it up and the game thrives and prospers for probably 10 years to come.

Now what I want to ask you guys is do you think this model would work for Super Street Fighter 4 or fighting games in general?

I myself would drop serious bucks on new fighter costumes and new visual effects on special moves and I feel like the game would be perfect for that model and the community could only grow and benefit from it through more competition and exposure.

I feel like the only thing that’s holding the game back is Capcom with it’s foolproof method of bringing out a decent game every 7 years and then crapping carbon copies of the same game with minimal differences onto the market in the hope that people keep buying it.


#2

No.

I absolutely abhor the F2P model. It would work, but I dislike it.

Unless they make all of the characters available and STRICTLY leave the purchase stuff to cosmetics (Costumes/stages/avatars/titles/colors/ect) then I’m against it. Free 2 play with characters, especially with a fighting game, makes it difficult to test things. Training mode becomes weaker as you’d only have access to whoever you paid for (if there is a training mode at all.) so you can’t test things like punishes/ect.

Free 2 play also requires constant updates and new content to keep the players interested. Tell me, how would you like SF if every 3-4 weeks there we a balance update and/or new character? Players would simply flock to “broken character of the week” for competitions as finding tech with other characters would be pointless as it could be removed in a week or two, and may not be as effective as simply picking up a character who is easy and effective at the moment.

LoL/Dota2/MOBAs work for F2P play because a lot of the stuff is static or small. The number of possible interactions between moves and characters is much lower. There is a much more limited number of moves possible, teamwork is more emphasized, and raw stats carry much more weight. Things like DPS, health, damage reduction, movement speed, these things are more easy to modify and understand the possible outcome than things like hitboxes and frame data.

Lastly, I dislike the pricing models for this type of system. People complain about the 15$ price tag on USF4 update which has 5 characters + stages + new modes + other stuff. You’d be lucky if 15$ bought you TWO characters in LoL. There are some costumes that cost up to $20 on their own.


#3

More talking about the Dota 2 model, since all characters are unlocked from the start, it’s just cosmetic items you can buy and we get a balance update once a year.

LoL is a garbage game with a garbage f2p model which would destroy this kind of game, I agree.

I feel like SSF4 would be a lot nicer if it got a small balance update every 6-12 month.
While most characters if not all seem perfectly cool and it doesn’t seem that the difference in strength compared to top tier characters is that big, some make the impression that they’re complete garbage in tournament play and it wouldn’t hurt them to buff a couple of things those characters every once in a while.


#4

people here bitch at having to pay 15 dollhairs for an upgrade to a two year old game, so I doubt they’ll embrace the idea of capcom actually trying to make a profit on their product instead of giving it away to these entitled whiners.

Seriously, something about the fgc is strange in that sense. they’ll bitch at having to pay for a stream and they’ll bitch when dlc isn’t free, but they’re willing to throw money at players and pay their way to EVO.

in the end, though, aside from the costume packs that already exist, we’re a community that isn’t too interested in playing dressup with our characters. we’re a community that’s more about overall quality of play, and have already made concessions to gameplay and mechanics to welcome those interested. making the game more personalized may appeal to the casuals, but in the grand scheme of things, the people who will support the game won’t care because in the end, how would your dolled-up character and effects be implemented during a tournament?


#5

It’s not like the hardcore Dota 2 community (I mean the competitive scene) gave a rats ass about cosmetics. We just want to play the game, get better at it and beat other people who have the same mindset. We don’t blame imbalance, teammates or anyone else for our losses but ourselves, that’s the scrub talk of the other 5 million dress up players with Dunning-Kruger syndrome.

I myself just welcome the business model since it leads to a growing community and out of those 5 million dress up morons there’ll be a couple of hundred people that are really competitive and are able to team up with people that can beat the current powerhouses.

Getting more players and thus more talent and competition can’t be bad for a game as long as the way it’s done is thought through and halfway ethical.


#6

yeah, and the way the fgc has done it’s part in trying to welcome newer players by making combos and inputs easier, making timing windows larger and increasing hit stun to make combos easier to perform. you’d assume that would bring in waves of newer players, eager to learn the game…but no, instead, we’ve gotten players who have delusions of grandeur complaining about how they want to stand toe to toe with Daigo but feel like execution shouldn’t be something that keeps them from making top 8 at EVO.

the fighting game genre is unique in a sense that not only do you need intelligence, you also need dexterity. where other games require one more than the other, a successful fgc player needs an almost encyclopedic knowledge of matchups, frame data and situational reactions, combined with excellent twitch reflexes and superior execution. DotA and games similar may require a deep understanding before you can truly enjoy it, but where’s the execution? conversely, games like CoD may require twitch reflexes, but where’s in the end, the most thinking a player has to do is memorize a map.

what I’m trying to say is that the fgc attracts a very specific type of player, and fighting games on a casual level may sell a lot, but it won’t matter to the people capcom caters to the most (despite the complaints), the competitive players. if a game isn’t tournament worthy and have some semblance of a deep system, it loses steam really quickly, regardless of how pretty I can make my character.

and again, these microtransactions, how would they be implemented during tournaments when players go from console to console? I mean, we get players to play by allowing them to have their character wear a dress and shoot pink fireballs, but how do we get them to take the next step and be sacrificial pot monsters when there’s no quick and convenient way to transport their custom character to tournaments?


#7

Knowing Capcom, they’re going to try the free to play model.

I wont mind it if they release the game at a normal retail price where we get everything, but the game is free to play if you only want Ryu. You can then pay for each character individually (or by groups)

It will bring in more people at the very least. As long as I dont sacrifice anything I dont care.


#8

I’m with Eternal here, I hate F2P model and to be honest, I think it hurts the videogame in the long run (there was a nice article on the subject somewhere).
F2P is a big scam - it says free, but in fact, after you get it, they start asking for money more and more. At the end of the day, there’s nothing free about it, unless you stick to the very basic.
Second, I like to have the whole thing from the start and to enjoy it. And 3rd, I think a updates in a FG should be rare - unless something is really hurting the game. Let the game develops, if we change it very few months, it will be a complete mess.

Finally - Capcom tried with SFxTK to implement such a thing - with characters locked. The backlash showed the people don’t like this model at all.

I really hope F2P will only stick to a niche portion of video games, and I don’t think at all it would be beneficial to SF4, on the contrary.


#9

You don’t get the difference between MOBA and Fighting Games. In MOBA, every character is at its core the same bar some rare exceptions (Meepo, Invoker, …).
Most of the game is interplay with your teammates, making decisions on when to gank/push/rosh/etc, and raw ability that carries over between characters (eg last hitting).
You learn how to fight certain strategies - eg how to defeat a turtle team centered around a hardcarry - and slightly adjust the way you combat them based on the characters they got
Also, most of what a character does can be learned through just playing. A new character comes out, Top players pick him in Pubs to see what his abilities do, which chars he’d probably function with, etc.

In Fighting Games, your character is MUCH FUCKING MORE important.
Characters are vastly different. Even in a rather ‘simple’ game such as SF, the sheer number of tools (18 Normals + Specials + Command Normals + …) massively outweighs what a char in a MOBA can do.
Most of the game is knowing the ranges your character wants to be at, abusing their specific tools etc. OF COURSE fundamentals are important as heck too. But the best fundamentals only carry you so far. The power level of a new DotA character gets unlocked pretty fast. People find new stuff to do with their FG characters even in 10 year old games.
You learn matchups against characters rather than against strategies, which means you have to learn a WHOLE FUCKING MORE. Even though MOBAs have 150 heroes, it’s really just some 10 matchups you learn, with slight variations depending on the characters picked. This doesn’t work one bit in Fighters. You can’t go “I know how Makoto fights Dhalsim; This means I now know how to defeat zoning, so fighting Sagat, Juri and Guile is easy”. You have to learn the ins and outs of 40 matchups.
Also, most of what a character does can’t be learned in actual matches but has to be grinded out in Training Mode. You can’t practice hitting your 1f Link while playing online. You can’t just make a frame perfect oki setup + OS up on the fly.

To put it simple, if your DotA-Dreamteam is CM/Void/Venom+Gondar+Panda, that’s “Defensive Trilane+Offlane Ganker+Midlane Midgame Monster; Balanced Mix of Good Lanes / Good Ganking / Good Teamfight / Lategame Ability”; you can just as well play Lich/Lion/Dusa+PotM+Lanaya. How the characters work, specifics etc are changing, but the general gameplan stays the same. In fact, MOBA Games COULD NOT FUNCTION without this, as the Pick/Ban Stage forces you to be able to play constantly changing teams. So, if your five favourite Characters get nerfed, you’re just fine during a tournament on the next day, as you can just switch to the ‘same Team with different names’.
In Fighting Games, if your char is nerfed, you’re fucked. If your char doesn’t get touched but everyone else is getting changed, you’re forced to learn 40 matchups anew. Constant Balance changes lead to one thing: Everyone flocking to the most obviously easy character, abuse the shit out of him, and nobody ever bothers learning a proper counter to that character as they know it’s wasted time - four months spent on learning a matchup in detail will just go down the drain one month later.

This is actually a huge issue with the DotA competitive scene too. The game doesn’t evolve because Icefrog doesn’t let people figure out stuff. The constant cycle of DotA patches looks about like this:

  • Icefrog rolls a dice to decide what he wants the next few months to be. Pushing? Ganking? … Then he buffs specific characters / does some system changes to have this new Meta be ‘the thing’.
  • As the buffs are rather obvious, everyone flocks to these freshly buffed characters and does what Icefrog wants them to do
  • Slowwwwly, people are getting a step deeper into the Patchnotes and find stuff that may now work
  • The Meta shifts ever so slightly towards a new thing, game is in ‘danger’ of evolving with people figuring out counters to the obvious crap
  • Icefrog throws the next patch which turns everything on its head
    This is an endless cycle. I have mad respects for the comp DotA players that they can stand this, I’d have beheaded him by now.
    The guy has zero idea of how to balance a game and just constantly changes with a complete disregard for actual balance (he clearly overbuffs and overnerfs characters just to “mix it up”) or even just a more interesting gameplay -
    His frequent ‘balance patches’ are there to keep the casuals happy and make DotA a more spectator-friendly game; the actual comp scene is just working around his fuckups.

The F2P model works for games that don’t give two fucks about the competitive scene and just do stuff. They work because a casual can drop the game, come back a month later and go “Whoah, 5 new characters! Neat!” and get hooked again. Cosmetics are not enough, you need to keep your game fresh - and you need to do it in an obvious, for casuals easily see-able way. Keeping your game ‘fresh’ via new tech developments does not pull casuals in. There’s no random guy dropping the game and then going “Whoah, someone found out that Evil Ryu has an unblockable setup in the corner against 8 characters off Ex Axe Kick, which changes his matchups considerably and moves him up in the tier list! Amazing”. Casuals see a game as ‘fresh’ if Dev Input is obvious. Dev Input kills Player Development. Killing player development kills one of the most interesting part of Fighting Games.
You CAN probably do a casual friendly F2P Fighting Game where chars don’t have options, which everyone can play, and where you constantly add new characters (need to find a way to keep this reasonably cheap) without too much of an issue and do random balance patches that overturn the entire tierlist on a bimonthly basis; and I actually think this may be decently successful. People are gonna get angry about this, but the prime candidate for this business model would have been DiveKick. But, … yeah, for a real FG this does not work.

E:

Lag is more or less noticeable depending on the game. In Dota2, lag is largely irrelevant because nothing you do needs any precision or actual timing. If you were to play SF4 with the Dota2-Netcode, I’ll guarantee you… it won’t end well.


#10

Dota is easy, pick Warlock press R, you win, atleast at pub matches. Fighting games don´t work like that.
A f2play fighter by Capcom is definitive an option for me, if Hakan is top tier there.


#11

I disagree that F2P cannot work for competitive fighting games. Just as long as the model used is right (see what DOA5U is doing with both a retail and F2P version), then F2P might actually help expand the genre. The key off course is avoiding constant patching and having to pay for too many things. As mentioned, the DOA5U model seems pretty alright since you can simply buy the whole game with the complete cast at retail, which is good for TOs (and those who don’t want to have to pay individually for all characters).

As much as I agree that SFIV’s netcode needs work, peer-to-peer is actually the best system for fighting games.

There’s already been alot written on this by actual fighting game netcode programmers.

http://mauve.mizuumi.net/2012/07/05/understanding-fighting-game-networking/
http://skullgirls.com/2011/09/skullgirls-ggpo-and-you/
http://evo.shoryuken.com/2012/08/24/game-developer-magazine-ggpo-technical-deep-dive/

TL:DR version, peer to peer is preferred since you’re limiting the number of connections requires to 1 (you vs your opponent) instead of 2 (you to the server and your opponent to the server). This is because you want to minimize the amount of travel your data pack has to take to minimize delay and keep it as close to offline as possible (remember, in competitive fighting games, offline is king).

Also, in the more advanced rollback type codes (e.g. 3rd Strike Online, Skullgirls, SFxT, etc.) this means that you can have your local client/peer react with the exact same timing all the time, regardless of the state of the opposite peer. Desyncs are handled by rolling back to the last fair state. It’s basically a peer-to-peer implementation of client side prediction code used in modern FPS games.


#12

@d3v : That doesn’t sound like F2P but like “Retail Game with an extensive Demo”. I wouldn’t call SG an F2P game just because you can dl the gimped Demo version for free.


#13
  • I’d hate F2P for fighting games, however I’d accept such method if it was OPTIONAL, e.g people like me can buy the full game for a specific price while others who are interested in trying out the game can start with the F2P model.

  • SFIV netcode is fine if you and your opponent have good connections with minimal latency (ping) involved. Dedicated servers can’t work well because:

  • They cost money to run and maintain, fighting games don’t sell as much as the big FPS MP shooters out there.
  • They’ll have to provide A SHIT LOAD of servers around the world to give everyone access to low latency servers, on top of that it’ll add one more hop to the connection route between you and your opponent and in a fighting game you’d want to minimize that as much as possible.
  • Finally, fuck balancing the game every 6 months, that way we’ll NEVER be able to fully figure out the game, not even close.

#14

The difference is that you don’t have to shell out $60 immediately to get the parts you want. Some dude can want to get good with one character and simply buy that characters and work on them to get good. At the same time, it gives people who just want to have the entire game (or need to, like TOs) the ability to buy the whole game outright.

Also, no demo that I know off allows you temporary access to the paid characters (DOA5U has this). That means players on the F2P version get to try out stuff and hopefully find someone they’d like to buy.

Just because something is F2P doesn’t mean that it’s going to get a constant stream of balance updates.

EDIT:
If you check out the replies on the front page and discussion on the various threads here in the forum whenever it’s brought up, alot of folks actually think that it can do good, provided that a full retail release is done alongside the F2P version (i.e. DOA5U model).


#15

Said it before I think that 12-18months is the ideal length of time between major updates for a fighting game. A free 2 play model needs to introduce new content regularly for people to consume and updating once every 6months would be way too slow for an effective F2P model financially and too fast for a tournament style fighting game.

A F2P fighting game can be successful, but can it be successful AND good is something I’m not sure of at the moment.


#16

You can update with content without having to touch the balance of the game.


#17

MOBAs are a completely different breed to FGs. Although it seems like you know nothing about MOBAs either and you’re stuck in your own elitist bubble that is the sadder part of the DotA community.

You’ve been playing too many Nexon games. There are plenty of f2p titles that don’t require any money while keeping you at the same level as paying members.

SF is easy, all you do is spam Hadokens, oh wait


#18

Re: netcode, your comparisons of fighting games to DotA2 and SC2 are unreasonable. In DotA2, you might get 70ms or so on a good connection to a central server. In fighting game terms, that is 4 frames of delay. 4 frames is a LOT. The peer-to-peer system actually provides better netplay, but of course it’s going to seem more laggy, because you’re comparing it to less lag-sensitive games. Furthermore, anyone who lives far away (100ms+) from the server would basically not be able to play at all, unlike DotA2 which is playable til around 300ms.


#19

Uh, every genre has it’s own things you need to know. Why are you talking about FGs like they’re the hardest shit out there? Shooters like Counter-Strike are equally deep and complex, just in different areas. While you may not need the same amount of mechanical skill as a FG, MOBAs are still very complex and require a lot of knowledge. There are over 100 heroes in DotA and LoL, and a crap load of mechanics you need to know.


#20

If you add content that changes gameplay such as new characters then it affects balance. If you don’t update with new gameplay related changes on a regular basis casual players (the bulk of F2P money) will fall off and the system wont be sustainable.