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E3 2014: Capcom Allegedly Considering "Pay To Win" Option For Street Fighter 5

Street Fighter

UPDATE: Capcom's Yoshinori Ono made a statement via Twitter explaining "The SFV news today about a pay to win model is not accurate and isn't something we're planning for."  Thank goodness.   

The sad world of microtransactions and so-called "pay to win" downloadable content has led us to this: word on the street is that Capcom is considering a way for unskilled Street Fighter players who want to complete nonetheless will have a way to kick in some money in return for an advantage of some sort in the upcoming Street Fighter 5 for the Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One.  This report comes to us in English from EventHubs which, in turn, got it from Japanese source Sponichi Annex so this could all be a game of Telephone gone terribly wrong (purple monkey dishwasher), but in the event that it is accurate, let's consider some of what Capcom's top people are planning:

Capcom president and COO Haruhiro Tsujimoto said to media representatives in a group interview at E3 that the Osaka-based games maker has plans to develop a Street Fighter 5, and that it would not only fully utilise the unique features of online gaming, but also attempt to broaden the player base by making it more accessible for newcomers, Sponichi Annex reported.

"We'd like to steer away from making the next game such that skilled players will win, but unskilled players will lose almost instantaneously," Tsujimoto said.

As a means to achieve that (prevent unskilled players from losing instantaneously), Capcom is looking into possibly implementing some kind of pay-for-advantage system in Street Fighter 5 that will allow new players to cover for their lack of skill in matches.

Back in my day, if you were terrible at a video game, do you know how we improved?  Practice!  Video games, like any other hobby be it playing a musical instrument or throwing a football, require practice if you expect to be proficient at it.  In the ongoing quest to expand audience attach rates and keep people playing past what used to be points of frustration, games have become easier over the years.  At first, that was a blessing.  Some of those early Nintendo Entertainment System games could be just brutally unfair no matter how much time one sank into them.  Games like Street Fighter require a level of engagement and adaptation that has to be developed over time like anything else one doesn't know how to do.  That's why the great players are so revered in the community.  They've put in the time and pushed themselves to become the best.

If I pick up a controller for the first time and get my ass handed to me on a silver platter by challenging someone far out of my league, then the solution isn't for me to pay to gain an advantage.  The solution is for me to practice, challenge people of my skill level, and work my way up.  Being able to pay to jump ahead defeats the purpose of playing the game in the first place.  Of course, offering a pay to win option generates extra revenue for Capcom in a way that previous Street Fighter games have not.  No wonder the company wants to offer it.

If this is what Capcom really wants, I don't see how we can stop it.  Let me just say that if we have to go down the "pay to win" road to get Street Fighter 5 made, then the trade-off had better be that the extra downloadable costumes are free this time.