The knee-jerk counterpoint is that SF2 was really popular, but there are some caveats to it:
In the arcade era you would never see or experience how the game was supposed to be played. A lot of local players didn’t think rog or sim were good at all, but there would never be anyone that played at a top level to see, so it didn’t matter.
People didn’t play SF the way it was meant to be played, but they didn’t actually care. Nowadays it’s a little different, so companies are going to have to be conscious of the fact that their games will be all over the internet and part of the marketing is going to have to include how players percieve top level play.
Fighters should be perfect for this because they can come across in a simple way “see i press A and hit you in the face, POW” but most of the time the impression is: “see this weird thing that makes no sense, you have to do that to win, thats a fighting game”. It is probably an unfair stigma, but it is there, and the games aren’t really helping themselves in that regard.
Even though there are things that are just as complex in FPS and sports, I think they are hidden better and that the casual fan really isn’t bothered by the complexity. Fans don’t have to understand complex mechanics, but they shouldn’t interfere in the casual viewing of the game.
3d fighters started to change this by adding easy combos and making sure that hitting buttons gave you some moves that looked like they made sense. In SF if you press buttons you just sit across the screen looking dumb. One of the things that made the SC4 Evo finals exciting was that it became simple, hilde is trying to ring out, other person is trying to not get rung out… easy to parse!
Smash has had (mostly) simple controls for a long time and it’s popular, fortunately companies like Arc are looking at it as well with BB’s “Press D and you get something interesting” system.
His point could have been better stated, but the idea behind it is important.