I’m not a hardcore SF player, I played Capcom v SNK casually, and it’s when I first played Street Fighter 4 I thought the game was awesome. But its when I first saw the Daigo Parry and my first EVO I fell in love with the FGC. The rest is history…
I don’t have to get into why it’s a great community, but suffice to say that I have enjoyed and have been entertained by every match, troll and tournament since I started watching half a decade ago. The FGC has a certain sense of humour and hype that you don’t find in other sports, and I’m happy that I made a contribution to the community by buying the games, watching the streams, buying tshirts, donations, buying equipment etc etc.
However I am bowing out as a casual viewer and follower of the community as the game I originally follow has run a bit stale.
The FGC needs viewers like me… We casually watch, discuss at work with other likeminded people, share videos with them and generally support the game and community, even though we do this quietly in the background…
So the future of Street Fighter/FGC…
Where do I start… Well let’s start with the basics and what they have got right… What are we looking for… What is the end result?
The end result I feel the FGC is looking for is… “to make your preferred game into a sport” Like basketball, football hockey etc… Where players are paid stupid amounts of money to play, crowds are hyped when you win, hot girls walking around everywhere, and the opposition get salty as hell when they lose. Ultra Chen and Ultra David hosting a sold out 90,000 capacity venue on prime time TV so I can see Final Round Champion Ryan Hart go head to head with Topanga leagues champion Bon Chan in the main event! Champion Sagat v Champion Sagat… West V East, the ultimate showdown… Sounds good right?l ol
SF4 is a good game… It’s simple… Like ryu, easy to pick up, life time to master… For example Basketball… get the ball in the hoop more times than your opponent. SF4 = Beat your opponent to death before he beats you lol. This is a good base to start from… There’s not too much flashy stuff, it’s just a simple game. The mechanics work, the physics are great, has great pace, rhythm and looks good.
The second thing they have done right is, kept the game the same… How many times have you seen a sport change? Maybe the rules change very slightly every year, but the game is still the basic get the puck in the net… SF4 is consistent and easy to understand for viewers… Even to the untrained eye, we know what we are watching… Not like some games that I watch where I don’t know what the fuck is going on. Whether you watched vanilla or the AE version, the casual viewer will know what’s going on, this keeps the barrier to entry for new viewers low which is good for watchability and attracting more viewers. Very good Capcom… well done.
When SF4 first came out, Capcom will have assessed the return on investment on the game and probably did not expect the growth of the community over the following 5 years after the games release.
The games continuing performance on the tournament level should have capcom reassessing how the next title in the franchise should be designed. But this depends on where they make the most ROI.
- Does continuing performance on the tournament scene equal money? I dont know, that will be for Capcom to decide.
Ideally, I would like to say it does. But I think there are few things fundamentally wrong with the game which will never allow the FGC or the game itself to become a fully-fledged sport, and why Capcom may never push the franchise with enough investment to take the FGC onto new heights.
- Street Fighter and other fighting games are in effect an individual sport… One v One…
What other sports do you know are played one v one? Boxing… Tennis… MMA etc.
Now these are big industries… But not as big as team based sports…
You watch Boxing or MMA when you go vegas… or if you know theres a big fight on… unless your a hardcore follower… CASUAL VIEWERS like me only watch when its an occasion…
Casual viewers enjoy team based games because there is reason to get behind a brand or symbol. “I like the way this team plays, or I am from the same area so I will support them.” When you meet someone who supports the opposite your support for your team grows… Its natural. “Fuck that team, we are going to win”
As a casual viewer, I support players… Not enough for me to get angry about it… Disappointed maybe… But I don’t really have a side to get behind… The FGC could look at more team based tournament ideas, like sponsor v sponsor etc…by increasing pot size and making team v team a main event… However the 5v5 matches so far have been mainly exhibition stuff… this is because again… The game is fundamentally one v one… why would you play it as a team v team? lulz
- Expanding on this point… Casual viewers generally start following the FGC because they played the game… understand the skill necessary to play, and then get amazed by the skill that high level players have… We continue to watch because we continue to be amazed. However after 5 years, you have seen all the stuff there is to see. Maybe some new combos when the game is updated, a new player emerges to beat all the top players, but that’s it.
Now I will argue that sports in general you don’t see anything new… How many times have you seen the same goals, touchdowns and/or plays which are scored time and time again…. But that’s different… Because I’m not watching those games to see something I haven’t seen before… I’m watching for my team to win.
For a sport to have sustainable watchability… The consumer needs another reason to watch except to see something new or to be amazed… When you watch your team play on the weekend, you hope to see something magical… but you would be happy and hyped if you just fucking win…. I know I would. If they do manage to produce something magical as well… well that’s just bonus.
The game needs its casual viewers to watch for reasons other than to be amazed by high level play… Like any other sport, you become desensitised to it over time… Which is why team based sports generally produce more money… People will continue to watch even if they see their team do the same thing over and over again.
Why would you watch a boxer who is an average fighter unless he is someone you are rooting for… Like from your area etc etc.
- The last problem which has always hindered the FGC and ties into the issues above…
The best players are too far away from each other… The internet has been firmly behind the growth of the community since SF4’s release, its exposure and spread over the internet only signifies the game and FGC’s potential as a sport… People ARE interested, people do want to watch, but Geography still holds the game back.
Getting the best players under one roof is still difficult even though they are professionals and sponsored.
Although with the support of sponsors and promoters getting players together is becoming easier, its still one of the main problems they face. This geographical problem cannot be sorted out until the professionals and the sport itself reaches a critical threshold where there is enough money to support the best players being under the same roof…. And this won’t happen till the game gets more viewers.
Other less important issues:
4) Even with the help of the internet and all the people streaming and uploading… I still find it difficult as a casual viewer to find the fights I want to see… As an international, I can’t watch the streams in my time zone so I have to wait until they are uploaded… which can take up to a week, by which time I usually know who’s won… so what’s the point of watching…
I am mentioning this because it’s a failed marketing tactic and it just pissed me off… as a consumer… the 5th character marketing for ultra street fighter has just made me feel disheartened about the whole game… Why hint of a completely new character when it is a clone which has been changed around. I literally waited up to watch the 5th character reveal, expecting hype rivalling that of when the other 4 characters were revealed or when Capcom revealed ryu v kazuya. But I was the same as everyone else in the room… Just silent… and extremely disappointed.
I’m not bashing or trolling the FGC (only bashing decrapre at the end). These are my honest opinions and with a background in marketing and strategic product development I feel I have a little understanding of what’s happening here…
I would like to see the FGC attempt to tackle these fundamental issues (if possible) I think it would help the game/sport get to the stage I feel it is worthy of.
I really want to see Ultra Chen and Ultra David commentate on prime time TV at a huge 90,000 capacity venue where the best of the best compete, and I get crunk and get mad hype…. That is the dream… But if anyones going to make it happen it’s the FGC…. Good luck.