I tell you, brothers & sisters, it's like there is simply not enough time in the day. Apologies again falling out of sync with the regularly scheduled programming here. As the old saying goes, "Life happens". Still, though, something has caught my eye...
I would love to talk about my recent weekend at TFC, but something a bit more pertinent has taken precedence as of late. No, it's not the release of MVCI (KPB|2Tall is going to be ALL OVER that one for the next few months, trust me), but it does have something to do with the game. A few things, actually. First & foremost, though, I want to address the eight-legged elephant in the room. I am, of course, talking about the Spider-Man/Reality Stone combo that has been setting social media on fire the last few days. I want everyone who comes across this to know that the irony of there being a (pseudo) infinite combo in a game called Infinite is not wasted on me. I've already had my laugh & moved on from the richly comedic aspect of it. With that out the way, this little hiccup poses a significant problem.
You see, this Web Ball/Reality Stone trick has lead to a noticeable cognitive dissonance within the community. One side wants it banned or patched and the other wants to let it rock. The one thing I've noticed throughout all this banter is who's asking for what. Thus far, the players who are already deep into the competitive scene & those who have designs on taking the game seriously on a competitive level are opposed to the idea of it remaining in the game. Inversely, people who have been fans & followers of UMVC3 throughout its storied history want it to stay in the game because -- and I quote -- "hey, this is Mahvel!" Both opinions have their respective validity, so I'm not going to bother trying to debate the merit of either side. What I want to do, however, is remind people on the "let it rock" side of this argument that we're in the Era of eSports now. I know how that sounds, but its importance cannot be understated.
What this means is that we're now actively pursuing the attention of, as I like to call them, the Uninitiated. Regardless of how much fun there is to be had laughing at them lament our inclusion on TV, if they stop watching (or, at the very least, acknowledging) what we do, that will ultimately lead investors to lose interest & pull their financial contributions. In other words, the attention/money we've been enjoying lately will all but disappear once we stop putting on a good enough show. That being said, exactly how entertained do you think any Uninitiated would be watching two players (who are competing for what will definitely be seen as an unprecedented amount of money) lame it out to the Nth degree by trying to rochambo for that first setup into said aforementioned combo? No one, and I mean NO ONE, is going to want to watch that. The hot second all the new Powers That Be notice our ratings slip, *poof*... all that shine we've been basking in will start to dim.
Another thing that I've been noticing since Summer Jam is that Infinite's arrival has had a rather high profile casualty: Street Fighter V. Now, there are a number of factors that have brought me to this conclusion, but MVCI is just the latest "distraction". It's no secret that a lot of players have been eagerly awaiting its release due to the fact that more than a few of them have... let's just say, fallen out of love with SF5. The game is still functional & there's no shortage of money being thrown at it, but it just isn't captivating people like it used to. Case in point, on more than one occasion, I've seen older games draw more of a crowd. Maybe it's nostalgia... maybe it's the graphics... maybe it's the heightened sense of competition... I frankly couldn't tell you. All I know is that I've been watching SF5 fall further & further away from the quote unquote "prime time slot" at most events. Strange state of affairs, I must admit.
Stranger still is that Capcom has haphazardly stumbled into NetherRealm Studios' production/release cycle, but have somehow found a way to expedite the cannibalization process. I know KPB|Parappa made the joke a while back regarding Capcom half-assing two games instead of putting their focus on one, but now that the punchline has become reality, I'm more than a little worried. This type of MO wouldn't be a big issue back in the old days because of the disconnect between arcade debut & console release. Whatever mishaps you uncover at the arcade could (or at least should) been worked out by the time it was available for domestic consumption. That buffer no longer exists. So now, when something that potentially derailing is uncovered, there's no grace period to remedy it. All we can hope for are patches and, while I can appreciate their contributions, there's always the slim chance that they'll damage or throw off something else in the game. It's a tricky situation, but that's just how programming usually works.
Another thing to consider is that ever important "casual" market. How you may or may not feel about people playing these games for fun, their inclusion is something that every developer is now banking on. The bridge between the sides of that schism has to be sturdy enough so that everyone can enjoy the experience. When something like this (that does have the potential to turn people off from enjoying said experience) rears its ugly head, the immediately expands the divide. Why should they bother playing the game if someone is just going to take the easy way out in order to fluff up the numbers on their online record? We've seen this type of thing happen in the past and, guess what, it hurts far more than it helps. Thankfully, however, we've also seen this same situation rectified and that salve has benefitted everyone involved. I know this might sound blasphemous, but we need them more than they need us.
Despite all this (or maybe even because of it), I've come to a personal decision regarding MVCI. This may seem wildly uncharacteristic or even contradictory given all the work I've done in the last year/comments I've made since its announcement, but my mind's made up. I am going to give Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite the benefit of the doubt & (begrudgingly at times, I'm sure) respect its right to exist. For better or worse, this game is going to be the center of attention in Our Shared Passion for roughly the next 5 to 6 months. Between all the gimmickry that the "Battle for the Stones" tournament will be putting on display, the impending gripes over imbalance/presentation or the simple fact that the playing field will initially expand beyond the 'usual suspects' only to snap right back to their regularly scheduled programming, I will be there doing my best to enjoy the competitive showcase. Regardless of whether it's for or against, my having an opinion is meaningless. I'll take whatever comfort there is to be had in that knowledge. In the meantime, the Dynamek One & Only is just going to enjoy the ride.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.