The below is all based on my own understanding and memory of events, it could have all been a bad flu dream, treat it all lightly
This was discussed quite heavily circa the launch of Ultra.
A few things happened all at once really:
Rumors emerged that Capcom was out of money
Capcom were launching episodic games
Capcom was offering exclusivity on a lot of its franchises
Capcom were developing ANOTHER Street Fighter 4 add-on with a known low budget
Rumors were circling that Ultra was the swansong of the Street Fighter franchise
Rumors were circling that Capcom were going to be absorbed by a bigger company
Microsoft were having their own little fights over exclusivity elsewhere, including on other Capcom titles
Then Sony emerged, cross platform play for SFV was announced, it all looked like a mutual, positive thing, a lot of Xbox butthurt about how they’d lose half their fanbase, which simply isn’t true for a fanbase that built itself around a game, not a console.
Now, with all that said, I believe Capcom had virtually no money to make another SF game. I think Ultra was a fundraiser that Capcom did to both keep SF alive and possibly prove value to Sony/Microsoft, so that they’d buy in on SFV. This worked and went ahead and, even with the Sony partnership, funds for SFV were super low.
For this reason, development was light and focused, based around the “Agile” software principle of get the thing Live as soon as possible to gain interest and reduce the risk of dumping a ton of time into a game that may then get hated and benched (think SFxTekken/Smash Bros Brawl). This would also allow the game to gather revenue to aid future development. This is all really common stuff in MMO development, not so much triple-A’s, hence why everyone’s going ape right now over “paying retail for early access”.
Since the latest Street Fighter games were largely patches and rebalances of a Street Fighter 4 iteration, it made sense to assume that the core audience of late was the Versus community, since those were the people most likely to pitch into a tweaked version of a game they already have (again, Ultra could have been a proof-point for this), so it was agreed to hit the Versus elements of the game with the most budget, focus on the rest later. This lead to location tests alphas and betas really early on in development, each with iterative improvements, like new characters, visuals and features. A final launch of a “finished” end-to-end versus experience was rolled out on Tuesday, allowing this focused part of their audience to part with their cash and fund the casual and nostalgia-hungry fans and their beloved “content” like story modes, arcade modes and plot/competitively redundant characters from the original 8 to make a comeback at a later date.
That all just happened, we’re still seeing an Agile format of, “Kick new stuff out the door every 1-4 weeks” and, despite maybe being a bit misleading in the marketing of it, I think they’ve made the right choices and catered to the right part of their fanbase. Easy for me to say that, as I’m slap bang in the middle of that demographic.
So, with all that in mind, I think the Sony money and whatever they had left over from Ultra all entirely went into what we’re currently playing, the next batch of releases, such as online improvements, lobbies and the next run of new characters all come from a new budget that we, the fans, just provisioned by pre-ordering and launch-buying the game. Continued development thereafter will come from the store and from second-wave sales as the game picks up attention on the competitive scene - all the more reason to get that side developed early and get things ready for the Pro Tour.
I think the only other option for a SFV would have been crowdfunding, which would have caused crippling damage to Capcom’s rep and would force them down the same aggressively cut-back development route, only with no cash at the end for improving the game and adding more features.
I think they had no money, Sony gave them just enough to turn the game over, the whole thing was super lean and we’re seeing the result of a really impressive, hardcore game development campaign. Sadly, that doesn’t sell to the IGN readers, maybe they could have handled that bit better, I’m really happy with it.