So much to do, so little time... I've been trying to avoid this subject, to be honest, but the elephant in the room can no longer be ignored. Don't worry, though, I have no intention of reverting back to my unfavorable opinion of those responsible... I just need to get this out.
"Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action." - Ian Fleming
That's a famous quote from 1959's "Goldfinger", spoken by the titular villain himself. Despite being from an oldschool spy movie, this saying holds true in nearly every aspect of day-to-day life. I'm using it today in reference to the current state of affairs as it relates to the FGC. Primarily, I'm talking about Street Fighter V & the many issues that have been plaguing it since release. However, to understand that in a more realistic sense, we have to take a few steps back and look at another game: Killer Instinct.
Because I pride myself on being honest with you, I'll be blunt: I was wildly unimpressed when Microsoft debuted footage for the game on Xbox One. It looked like the gritty, Christopher Nolan reboot of Street Fighter IV. To make matters worse, the game was incomplete upon release. No physical copy to own & a very limited range in terms of features. I ultimately didn't mind this because it had been nearly 20 years since KI had released a new title in the series. You can even ask a few members of the team about this, but my greatest concern for KI was that it would stumble its way into irrelevance and ultimately oblivion due to what I felt was just a lack of foresight. In terms of advertising, packaging/presentation goes a long way into making a sale. If the product itself isn't up to par, though, then all the bells & whistles in the world aren't going to help you seal the deal. Thankfully, things turned a corner for the game with the switch over to a new studio & a refinement of the product.
That would be the "happenstance" stage of things. There was no real set precedent for what went down with Killer Instinct. Especially considering that it was meant to be something of a launch title for the Xbox One, the waters simply needed to be tested. We took our figurative lumps, learned our lesson (more on that in a second) and moved on. Other games were released, announced & updated. Everyone was back to enjoying their respective games & life in the FGC rolled on with nary a hiccup. And then it happened...
The announcement of Street Fighter V was met with about as much fanfare & enthusiasm as could be expected. After all, Street Fighter II more or less planted the seeds of the FGC way back when coin-op was just the norm. SF3 raised the bar considerably and gave us some of the most memorable moments in our community's history. SF4 was the culmination of everything the previous titles & years had been building up to. It would only make sense that Street Fighter V be that game for the next chapter of our shared history, the game that brings us all -- casual, hardcore, etc. -- together like no other title ever could. All that momentum, building up for decades, has now been married to our collective ambitions as players. This is what we've always wanted... the eyes of the world now focused on us & the games we love. What could possibly go wrong?
It's at this point that we run headfirst at full speed into the unavoidable barrier or "coincidence". You see, a decision was made... a short term decision with long term ramifications. Capcom moved up the release of SF5 by a few months so as to include it on the Capcom Pro Tour. If I can be blunt, I believe that decision is solely responsible for all the aches & pains both the company and the players are currently suffering. Because of that, the game released with very little core content, although promising to bring it in within that first quarter of its shelf life. Furthermore, the netcode has been, to say the least, dicey. Not to mention the pandemic of rage quitters taking advantage of an incomplete system. These are all things that shouldn't be so rampant in a title of this magnitude... of this caliber.
I suppose the reason for there being such a sharp backlash is that, thanks to MKX, we already KNOW that issues like this don't necessarily have to be a problem for such a prominent game/series. Even looking back further, our previous experiences have taught us that bare minimum standards of games can (and should) be more than what's been given to us upon initial release. If it seems as though I'm laying into Capcom with heavier hands than usual, that's only because I know they can do better. Think back to Street Fighter Alpha 3... remember everything you got on that disc? On top of all the usual content that normally comes with a fighting game, we also got World Tour Mode. It was a gauntlet that allowed you to grow familiar with your character of choice, learn the mechanics of the game through various challenges and, if you were able to tough it out until the very end, you were rewarded with Guile, Evil Ryu & Shin Akuma as playable characters. No pre-order bonuses, no Day One patches, no interchangeable DLC depending on where you bought the game... just the game. Moments like that are why, despite nearly everything, I still hold Capcom in such high regard.
At the end of the day, though, I come right back to the words of Ian Fleming. Regardless of how much of a setback the premature release of Street Fighter V may prove to be in the long run/grand scheme of things, it only registers as "coincidence". Two points don't form a pattern. As a gamer, I'm just sitting here, hoping & praying that the day never comes when things cross over into "enemy action" territory. Should that happen in my lifetime, the FGC will be one less.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.