Gaming Weekly is a new weekly Crave Online column that will be deconstructing the biggest topic of the week. This week, Paul Tamburro discusses Street Fighter 5, Ultra Street Fighter 4 and how Capcom is continuing to be the punch line of a joke that has been told since the release of Super Street Fighter 2.
Last weekend Capcom used the EVO 2013 fighting game tournament as a platform to announce Ultra Street Fighter 4. The game, Capcom boasted, will be the "definitive version" of Street Fighter 4, a game which at this point has already had two definitive versions in the form of Super Street Fighter 4 and Super Street Fighter 4: Arcade Edition.
Capcom's reluctance to release fully-fledged sequels to their fighting game franchises is well documented, and you'll often find the odd knowing reference to "Hyper Super Street Fighter 4: Tournament Edition" in comments sections of articles discussing the once-mighty Japanese developer/publisher.
Following the release of the lackluster Marvel vs. Capcom 3 expansion Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which received suitably poor sales, it seemed likely that Capcom would no longer be able to rely on overpriced, glorified DLC to help boost their revenue. Their Community Manager Seth Killian had announced that Arcade Edition would be the very last Street Fighter 4 expansion and, following the debut of NetherRealm Studios and their hugely popular Mortal Kombat reboot in 2011, Capcom finally had competition in the fighting game genre that would, fans hoped, force them to up their game and stop employing the shameless money-grubbing tactics that had caused them to fall out of favor with their most ardent supporters.
Fast-forward to 2013 and, despite Capcom stating that Street Fighter 4 would receive no further expansions, we now have USF4 on our hands. Boasting five (FIVE!) new characters, a few new stages and "re-balanced gameplay", USF4 is yet another example of the well of creativity seemingly drying up at Capcom, a company which once stood hand-in-hand with Nintendo in the late 80s/early 90s as figureheads of the 8-and-16-bit eras.
While other publishers are apprehensive about giving the green light to original IPs, Capcom remains frustratingly reluctant to produce the all-important sequels, as Executive Producer Yoshinori Ono confirmed on Twitter that his staff were not working on Street Fighter 5, instead investing their time and money into the upcoming Street Fighter 4 expansion.
Fighting games understandably have less frequent sequels than other genres due to their inclusion in tournaments and the like, but Capcom's willingness to wring every last drop of cash possible out of a 5-year-old game is something which shouldn't be supported if gamers want progression. Each new version of SF4 nullifies the previous version for those who are dedicated players of the game, and Capcom knows this. It's making money by cannibalizing its own releases, and those who buy into these Super, Ultra and Ultimate editions are simply feeding the beast that Capcom has unfortunately become.