Capcom is in a pretty great spot, thanks to the wild success of Devil May Cry , Resident Evil, and Monster Hunter . But the lead up to that wasn’t exactly a bed of roses and giant swords. Capcom had some struggles, some of which led to studio closures and layoffs.
One major issue has been Street Fighter V , which did well enough, but didn’t land hard enough to keep up the previous entry’s explosive momentum. Now the series is in a weird purgatory of sorts, with regular roster additions and updates coming out, but the buzz always being teetering on the edge of real hype. With Capcom’s 2019 energy, a lot could happen with Street Fighter going forward.
Wrangle the Lore
This is probably the least important on the list. Street Fighter ‘s lore is a mess, and I mean relative to other long-running fighting game storylines. The timeline is a zig-zag. The rosters shuffle too much. There are so many extraneous side characters and references that nobody really knows who these characters are, unless they were in Street Fighter II . Udon has done great work with its linear comic book series, and perhaps a soft reboot in that style or something more drastic could make the series’ writing a bit more approachable. (Crisis on Infinite Street Fighters, anyone?)
Let’s face it; guest characters are a big deal now. Usually just a thing Bandai Namco did with Soulcalibur , now everyone with a fighting game franchise does it. While Capcom has done plenty of self-referencing, with things like unlockable costumes, perhaps it’s time for the company to put up some IP crossover dollars to generate more buzz.
Capcom is no stranger to silliness, but with Street Fighter, that silliness tends to exist in the margins. Sure, there’s an occasional minigame or goofy story beat, but look at what people like so much about games like Tekken 7 and Injustice 2 . Extra modes, unlockables, character customizations, and ridiculous costume parts all draw extra attention and play time. Street Fighter V dabbled a little, but not enough.
Dial Back the Fundamentals
One of the reasons fighting games kinda died off, back in the day, was too much growing complexity. Games like Third Strike and Guilty Gear were utterly unapproachable to casual fans, so games only thrived in niche spaces. When Street Fighter IV came out, outside of one or two gimmicks, the core gameplay was much more approachable. There were simple bread and butter combos alongside the hardcore stuff, input shortcuts, and a solid comeback mechanic. There’s simply way too much going on in Street Fighter V that you need to understand at a basic level.
Commit to the Service Model or Drop It
Street Fighter V was supposed to usher in a grand era of service-style fighting games, but that fizzled out pretty hard when Capcom botched its delivery. Not only was the game too scarce on content for the cost of entry for most folks, but the free currency meant to give players an option to grind for free DLC was completely untennable. So it just ended up being a normal retail fighter with bizarre gatekeeping applied to side content. Either do the thing or don’t, but the halfway thing was a disaster.
A More Dynamic Visual Style
Capcom got humbled in the fighting game space when Arc System Works dropped Dragon Ball FighterZ , a game that took the already impressive art style of Guilty Gear Xrd and took it to the next level. In comparison, Street Fighter V is pretty dull and ugly. While it’s great in terms of fidelity, it’s pretty lifeless. Street Fighter IV combining overanimated caricature with Ukiyo-e ink flourishes was brilliant, and it’ll take something equally as creative for the next game to stand out.
More Cool Trans-media Stuff
Capcom has dabbled a little in doing “more” with Street Fighter , but mostly niche stuff like web series and comic books. Back in the peak Street Fighter days, Capcom commissioned an anime movie that was super high quality, kinda dark, and had some weird stuff going on (shout out to KMFDM) for the localized versions. It was a high point, which has only been followed by medicore animation work, expensive collectibles and GameStop junk. Another big anime movie would be great, as would something like a Netflix series or anything that’s cooler than insular pandering or Funko toys.
Do a Free Version
This is just a gimmick move to get eyeballs on a game. While Street Fighter V had various limited time, free trial events and whatnot, a Dead or Alive -style free “core ” version of the next game could be a boon for getting back on track. Capcom could offer the base game as a free download, give a couple characters for free, then charge full price for the full roster. Players can get a real taste (including online!) for free.
Do More With Music
The Street Fighter II and III series had amazing soundtracks, albeit with distinct differences. Third Strike ‘s hip-hop theme was an instant classic, which is still fondly remembered today, despite the game’s relative obscurity. Since then, it’s been all techno for the most part, with only a few standout tracks. Capcom has played it was too safe with music lately, and a new Street Fighter would be a good opportunity to branch out again.
This one’s a no-brainer. The best way to keep a fighting game alive is to remove the barriers of playing. Cross-play is now an accepted feature that fans want and companies have given in to. Street Fighter V was technically cross-play, but only between PS4 and PC players. While Sony did partially fund development, Capcom has been working more with Xbox lately, so perhaps some Microsoft dollars and the dulled reception for the previous game could mean a full console suite for the next one (perhaps even a Switch version!). Allow everyone to play together, and you’ll immediately have a community nice and engaged.