Thoughts on Balance Patching in SF4 and other fighters


Sup guys, I thought this would be a good topic for discussion, so why not bring it up?

My opinion is this: it’s total bull shit that SF4 hasn’t had multiple balance patches at this point.

The most frustrating thing about almost every fighting game is the imbalance. I’m sure every single person on here has picked up a new game, went straight for the character that looks cool to them, and then discovered that they suck, and they have to abandon their favorite guy to be competitive.

If capcom patched SF4 instead of working on the PC version, we’d be seeing way more Guile, Vega, Rose, Abel, etc. players coming up with new strategies, and utilizing new tools. As it is, we see a lot of Balrogs, a lot of Ryus, and a lot of Sagats.

Don’t get me wrong, SF4 is extremely well balanced compared to other games, but why not make it even better?

My proof that I’m right is Starcraft. That game was imbalanced as hell when it came out. It took them years of patches, and not all those patches worked well, but now it’s known as the most competitive, balanced video game in the world.

I’d rather capcom go for it, and mess up every now and again, than sit here with the same unfair game forever.

That’s my two cents. What do you guys think?


With the possible exception of dan, every character has a lot of potential in the right hands. Just becaused you or I aren’t skilled enough to pick up a brand new game, pick a character we like and win at a high level instantly doesn’t mean the game is broken and others won’t, others who are willing to work at it.

I saw some very impressive Sakura, Cammy and Fuerte at EVO. None of which are high tier at all.

As for your Balrog, Sagat and Ryu argument: In the final 8 they had 2 ryus, 2 balrogs and 0 sagats.


Yes, its the modern era and balancing should occur periodically, for free, via download.

SF4 has a good base and balance tweaks will be relatively straightforward.


Abel isn’t low tier IMO. He has such a bad reputation. Abel is actually a mid-top tier in my eyes, you just have to practice an insane amount, and be an execution god.

Seriously, any character in SFIV can be easily picked up because of how user friendly the game is. The sole exception is Abel.

As for balancing, part of me wish things would be balanced, the other part no. I do think Guile and Rose should be balanced more because they see no play, and has few potentional even in the right hands. HOWEVER, don’t balance characters that see a lot of play. We’ve gotten used to it already, and realized Sagat isn’t possible if you just… play better. So yeah, thats just my input.


I don’t know if the fighting audience wants patches is the thing. Fighting games are known for taking a long time to master. If you take months or just weeks to master a character and their match-ups then they patch it and all that means nothing then I’m sure some players would be upset. Personally, I think they shouldn’t care about that and they should patch it regularly and see what happens. Fighting games have been patched in the past, but very infrequently. At some point someone should try the constant and long term patching model for a fighting game to see how it really affects balance. We have no game that has actually tried it on the same scale of an RTS or FPS to see how it works out.


SF4 is primarily an arcade game in Japan.
If they tweak the console version they would be forced to tweak the arcade version accordingly.
Arcade owners would be forced to upgrade their SF4 machines, which is a pain in the ass.
It is not straightforward to “balance” the game.


Character use is almost irrelevant imo.

We all wish to see variety since repetition give away the feeling of routine and boredom,but it’s always going to be a fact that most people gravitate toward some characters.Tekken 6 will have over 40 characters,but you will rarely see the freaking dragon or Mojukin or the kangaroo.I am sure you will not see that much variety even if the game is balanced.

Heck,in WOW there isn’t much difference between the races but people gravitate toward some races(humans,night elves and blood elves) just because they are “kewl looking” or not fugly.

Even if the SF IV roster is balanced like Tekken 6 BR,you will always see a ton of Ryu/Ken/Akuma because they are kewl and have the flaming shoryuken/fireball/demon+Daigo factor or because Balrog is kewl with his A. Creed outfit.Let’s not forget Sagat because he’s huge,strong and does have the fireball+uppercut and is badass looking.


I have been playing with Abel since day one, and I have placed at local tournaments, so I’m not a bad player. Like I said, I don’t think the game is broken, but anyone who says it’s perfectly balanced is on crack. Would you rather all the characters be even, or a bunch of them being at a disadvantage. I’m not saying you can’t win with low tier, but it’s harder. It shouldn’t be harder.

He’s pretty bad. I know.

I’m not saying they should change every character. The game is pretty well balanced. I actually agree with you, I think giving the low tier characters some upgrades is a much better route than making the top tier worse. That way people already playing good characters don’t have to adjust too much (other than their matchups) and people using low tier will happily adjust to their new tools.

But we live in America >.<

I realize it’s a problem, but an imbalanced game is more of a problem in my opinion. The worst case scenario would be a new version of the arcade game in a year or so to catch up to the console patches. That wouldn’t be so different from the change between 2nd impact and 3rd strike, would it?

We may always see a ton of shotos, but wouldn’t the game be more fun if all the Guiles and Roses out there could compete with the army of Ryus and Sagats?


Only time I remember gameplay patches for fighters was with DOA4 and SC4. DOA4 actually made the game worse (IMO, but can be debatable) by removing useful things like certain characters’ 2-in-1s and nerfing characters that did not need nerfing (Christie…). SCIV I don’t have a real opinion of, but the game honestly did not seem that much more balanced to me (they took out Raph’s retarded BB and Ivy’s infinite, but kept Hilde’s doom combo?).

Then again, those fighters did not get arcade releases. However, can’t the SF4 and Blazblue cabinets connect online? If so, then they could technically release a console and arcade patch near the same time.

Also, other games/genres sometimes get patches like every other week. My friend said that Killzone 2 has got like 10 patches already (don’t know if he’s exaggerating, though).


The topic has been done to death… we can dream though.


Didn’t Ono say that he would wait at least 6 Months to patch?? Why would you patch a game so early. You’d learn a character, and then right after you learn it, they patch the game and now you basically have to relearn it


World of Warcraft, its 4 years old, gets patched every 4 or 5 months and its still no where near balanced

The game will never have perfect balance and you’ll just end changing things that don’t need changing


You can make a patch without drastically altering the game. Give Rose 5% more life – that’s probably not a game-breakingly huge advantage for her but if she edges closer to “competitive” without going over the top then you made a good change even though it was conservative.

Maybe change the hitbox when Sakura EX Tatsus Akuma so that a hit doesn’t send her flying over him. Add a frame here or there and you can tweak the game but not break it. Do this over some non-trivial number of patches so that you can make small, incremental changes and it’s more likely to be a good patch. Collect 6 months of patches for the arcade after you’ve vetted it on the consoles.

That’s how you would patch a fighting game without forcing a total re-learn of the system – small steps.

  1. WoW is an entirely different beast, involving a much larger set of variables than a fighting game with a variety of 1v1 matchups.

  2. WoW’s imbalance is caused by expansions which throw everything into the air with new gear, abilities and levels.

SF4 would be much, much easier to balance - you get a good feel of matchups and problems, look at the overall tier lists (which are generally accurate) and tighten things up a bit.

It wouldn’t be perfect but it wouldn’t take a lot of work to bring the lower tier to a more competitive level and remove some of the annoying bullshit the top tier has. You’d have to be very careful with the new console characters though - I don’t think they’ve been fully harnessed yet.

Yep. Some stuff goes without saying, like improving the base specials of some characters so they aren’t straight up raped by certain tactics, and that doesn’t even involve much but tweaking a few numbers slightly.


I think the main reason Capcom wouldn’t push for patches is that fighters constantly evolve and 3 months from now the mid/top tier could be a bit dif.

Though the biggest reason is probably the fact that they can’t update all the arcades like they can the console version. It would be really wierd if the consoles had all sorts of balance adjustments while the arcades stayed the same.


Um no…:rofl:


I don’t think players pick up those characters because they look cool, but because they are easy to pick up and play. Characters that don’t do DP, Fireballs and whirling kicks tend to be intimidating for some players.


Just what shoryuken needed, a balance thread.


Now that’s what I’m talking about.


You don’t patch fighting games unless something is clearly unbeatable. You’re supposed to learn your bad matchups or change characters, not wait until they change the game around you.

If you are hoping to achieve balance, gl. The only balanced fighting game is one you don’t know how to play yet. There is really absolutely no reason to patch this game especially since there is no overtly dominant character. Everyone agrees that sagat is the best character but he certainly loses a lot of tournaments. This game has only a few seriously messed up matchups, so few that I can count them on one hand and people are asking for balance patches?

If they made the arcade and home release different regarding the arcade characters I’d sell my copy the next day, it would no longer have a purpose as a practice tool which is its only purpose to begin with.

Balance patches are overdone in all genres of games. Players bitch and then they patch without giving the players time to actually realize that it isn’t as bad as they think at first. Thank god that fighting games have not devolved into this whiners mentality yet like mmo’s and rts’s and fps’s did long ago. It scares me how many people agree with this because it leads me to believe that eventually companies will start doing this and practice and hard work will become a thing of the past. A balance patch does not make more satisfied players, it just moves the dissatisfied players from people who use character X to people who use character Y since true balance can never be achieved.