Street Fighter V interview, DLC, season pass discussion with Capcom exec Matt Dahlgren
When Street Fighter II: The World Warrior burst onto the arcade scene in 1991, the quarter-muncher became so popular that Capcom released an updated Championship Edition the following year with playable boss characters. Following an ever more favorable response, they upped the speed and released a Turbo edition. Then they created four brand-new characters in Super SF2, and finally added in super moves for Super Turbo, all of which resulted in more than $2 billion being dropped into coin slots. That’s a lot of quarters.
This iterative approach proved incredibly successful and would be Capcom’s strategy for updating the world’s most popular fighting game series (and its numerous spin-offs) over the following decades. But that’s all changing with Street Fighter V, out Tuesday on PlayStation 4 and PC, which will continue to be updated but via free downloadable patches. EW spoke with Matt Dahlgren, director of brand marketing at Capcom, about this brave new world for the World Warriors.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Street Fighter has a long history of iterating, from Turbo to Super to Ultra to Ex Plus Alpha, but SFV will be a single release. It’s not just the SF series, but a great deal of Capcom’s business model seems to be based on re-releasing iterations of its big franchises. What was the thinking behind this change?
MATT DAHLGREN: Street Fighter has definitely gained a reputation for its wacky naming conventions, but really it was just a result of our community playing our games for long periods of time. The only way Capcom could provide new content or balance adjustments back in the day was to either ship out a new motherboard to an arcade, or release a new disc. We preferred to tack on a “Super” or “Ultra” onto the game, rather than simply calling it version 2.0, 3.0, etc.
Street Fighter V marks the start of new era for fighting games, and we have evolved how we develop the game and deliver content. Development will not stop after the initial launch, and we will continue to release content digitally as it is completed. No longer will players need to wait over a year for the next drop of content; there will be something to look forward to on a regular basis, post launch.
Street Fighter V will still iterate and continue to evolve over time to meet the needs of our community; we just don’t need to lock each iteration in stone as its own separate release. As a service, it will continue to grow and provide new offerings for our players, often free of charge.
A new iteration (such as Ultra SFIV) would include a plethora of balance updates and character tweaks based on community feedback. Will this type of balancing continue, and how would this type of update be handled in SFV? Would they be mandatory downloads required for online play?
Yes, as a competitive product, listening to our community and balancing the game is of paramount importance. However, unlike our previous “Super” or “Ultra” upgrades, balance adjustments are no longer locked behind a paywall, as players will just need to download the latest free update. The initial purchase will always allow players to have the latest balance adjustments and be included with the largest player base, throughout the lifespan of the product.
Balancing of the game will take place while keeping in mind our official eSports league, the Capcom Pro Tour. Our season starts in March and concludes in December of each year, with the Capcom Cup.
We will handle large scale rebalances during the off-season, to freshen up the next season. For the most part, we will try and limit any significant changes during the competitive season, unless a specific character is unequivocally unbalanced. Knee-jerk reactions to buff or nerf a character limits the creativity of our community, and a good fighting engine can have a deep metagame that develops over many years. Street Fighter V is just like a martial art; it’s only a tool. It’s the players who utilize the art that are the real stars of the show.
SFV will have a traditional $30 season pass that includes six additional characters and some costumes, but players can also purchase characters and items individually using real money. Or players can unlock content using “Fight Money” earned through gameplay. Can you tell me more about how Fight Money will be earned, how much time the average player would have to put in to unlock a character, etc., and the challenges of balancing that system?
Players will be able to gain Fight Money by completing the single player content in the game with each character, and by winning online matches. They also get a Fight Money bonus each time one of their characters level up.
Our intent is to create a game which players will want to invest in for years, not just play for a month and then retire it to their gaming graveyard. A strict new rule of Street Fighter V development is that anything that can affect gameplay needs to be earnable with Fight Money. If players continue to play the game, they should be rewarded with new free content. We are designing a system that rewards players who log in on a regular basis, and play with a variety of characters, rather than requiring long grind-heavy sessions.
It’s difficult to say what the challenges are of balancing the system, as it hasn’t launched just yet. That said, we will be monitoring everything closely, and want to make sure that earning characters for free is an achievable task for players of all experience and skill levels.
Can you tell me more about what type of DLC is being considered after release aside from new characters and costumes, such as new stages, new modes or anything that might be of interest?
Our post launch content is based on characters, stages and costumes. Some costumes will be earnable only with Fight Money, and some costumes will be only purchasable with Zenny, which is our real money currency. Characters and stages will be purchasable with Fight Money or Zenny.
We also have our cinematic story expansion scheduled for release in June as a free update. This will be truly an epic drop of content, and it’s the story mode that our fans have been asking for. With over an hour of cinematic content alone, not including any gameplay, this will bring the Street Fighter world to life like never before.
The development team doesn’t stop working on upgrading the base service either, and we already have additional modes in development, planned to be released for free. I can’t spill the details on these yet, but I can say we have very ambitious plans for Street Fighter V.
Street Fighter V