With over 40 characters, an arguably revolutionary customizable gem feature and an incredible rivalry at the core of its fighting system, you might think that Street Fighter X Tekken fans wouldn’t have much to complain about. By all accounts, the game has a lot to offer and has been crafted with care. At the same time, if you’ve followed fan reactions on Twitter or community forums, there is an outspoken majority claiming that this is another in a long series of Capcom’s cash-grabs designed to take advantage of those who desperately want to see a bear dressed as R. Mika. But perhaps there’s nothing wrong with that, and with ballooning budgets and cutthroat console competition, I wonder if Capcom even has a choice. It just makes me sad that the era of overstuffed fighting games is seemingly over.
Capcom may have taken many sprite-recycling shortcuts to get there, but I remember being blown away by Marvel vs. Capcom 2‘s 56 character roster. It was a product of the time; those unlockable character colors would have certainly been a couple extra bucks if it debuted on Xbox Live or Playstation Network. The Powerstone games were incredible in this regard; stuffed with mini-games, bonus modes, extra stages and over a hundred weapon (in the sequel), it was basically the antithesis of Capcom’s modern fighters. It’s true that these games suffered from the same dearth of single player content, but on the whole, these games were designed to stuff as much as they could onto each disc.
Unfortunately, business realities today mean that companies like Capcom can’t get away with this anymore. Instead, you can practically set your watch to the minute when producer Yoshinoro Ono starts dropping hints about the next Ultimate/Super update. As enthused as I am to see Phoenix Wright in a fighting game or play a possible Darkstalkers reboot, I just can’t justify buying the standard editions anymore, and I sympathize with fans who feel likewise. With Street Fighter X Tekken, the extra content is already coded and ready to go, and I don’t really feel like paying $10 a week to get the full experience that the creators envisioned.
I don’t really think think there’s a way around it though. First off, game developers don’t really owe the consumer anything. Outside of egregious content deficiencies like that Vita Ridge Racer game with three tracks and a broken down jalopy, as long as the makers are upfront about what you’re getting, what right do we really have to complain? More to the point though, Ono’s team, Project Soul (Soul Calibur) and so many other niche fighting developers don’t really have the resources to make these highly detailed games without making some concessions. The video game industry is tight-lipped about budgets, but there have been enough headlines about teams in the red to figure out why you’re being charged extra to get those fancy fighting duds.
The one suggestion I would have for these teams is to look at how bigger studios like Criterion and Media Molecule handle DLC. No, it might not be feasible to have an in-house team developing content throughout the next year or two, but perhaps some of those development dollars used to create locked characters can be saved to address concerns and hopes down the road. For me, that’s been the biggest disappointment about DLC across all games; developers have their entire plans scheduled before a game comes out and has a chance to build a fanbase. Maybe the average Street Fighter X Tekken fan would prefer to see another grappler like Alex over the turtle-r Blanka. And those gems might potentially be balanced, but this system allows full flexibility to fix any issues without major patches or updates. Fighting game strategies change all the time, and even if Capcom and company need to make a few extra bucks along the way, I would hope that they’d also be able to sneak in a few Yuns and Yangs without a new major release.