Street Fighter V’s Character Conundrum

I love a good fighting game, and Street Fighter V has definitely caught my interest after spending around 50 hours on Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition. Street Fighter games have captured the imaginations of millions since Street Fighter II released back in the early 1990s, but if there’s one thing particularly notable about Street Fighter, it is the number of re-releases each iteration receives. In an effort to combat this, Capcom have exclaimed that there will only ever be one version of Street Fighter V, allaying the fears for early adopters that they will not have to fork out their hard-earned cash for a new, improved version a year or two down the line.

The main upgrade in this system, according to Capcom, is an issue of balancing and patching. In the old system for the series, they would re-release the game with new characters as well as patches and fixes. With Street Fighter V Capcom say that “moving forward, all balance and system adjustments will be made available for free to players. All post launch gameplay related content can now be earned by playing the game”, this also includes new characters. New characters will be rolled out as DLC, none of it on-disc DLC, meaning that each new character added will have been created post-launch. Street Fighter V will release in February with a grand total of 16 playable characters, four of which are brand new to the series.

street fighter v characters

The trouble is, 16 characters really doesn’t sound like much these days. To put it into perspective, the original version of Street Fighter IV launched with 25 playable characters. Now, Street Fighter V will likely have at least 25 playable characters eventually, which is good, but I’m not too sure about how Capcom are going about their business with this one. The new characters have to be purchased, either with real money or Fight Money, which “can only be obtained by playing the game, and that’s what you use to earn the gameplay related content”. This means, in simple terms, that the more you play the game, the more Fight Money you earn. It’s nice of Capcom to allow users the ability to obtain all bonus characters for free, but they haven’t explained how long it will take to obtain these characters with the in-game currency; my guess is that it isn’t going to be easy.

The play-time required to unlock the extra characters is likely going to be lengthy. The likeliness is that you get more Fight Money the more you win, so it will encourage you to play the game more, and to improve. This is all good for those who get into the game, playing it endlessly or competitively, but what about casual players? Typically, I play fighting games casually, turning it on every now and then for local fights, or playing online when bored. I do play through the arcade modes as well, but I tend to not properly “get into” fighting games outside of Super Smash Bros. Perhaps the incentive of unlocking characters through playing the game more and more, as well as winning more and more will help to keep my interest in the game in the long run; this is clearly what Capcom wants with this new system.

street fighter v fight image

Of course, unlocking characters by playing a game is nothing new, and it is something that has been largely missing since the dawn of DLC. I do think, however, that Street Fighter V is neglecting the casual somewhat in favour of the competitive scene. Many people will simply not have the time to unlock the extra characters, so will likely pay for them out of their own pocket, which, of course, is what Capcom wants. It would be nice for Capcom to outline how long it can take to build up enough Fight Money for a new fighter, but as said above, I’m guessing it will be a slog just to build up enough to unlock one, let alone all the rest. However, what I think I’m getting stuck on here is the relatively limited standard number of characters; 16 just doesn’t seem like enough, especially considering how many classic characters are currently missing from this line-up (like Blanka for example). If Capcom went about this all the same way they currently have, but instead of launching with 16 fighters, it released with 20+ maybe I wouldn’t have an issue, as that would be plenty of characters to choose from right from the start.

What it all boils down to though, is that I simply do not know how long it will take to build up enough Fight Money in order to unlock extra characters, and for a casual fighting game player like myself it seems unfair to lock a large amount of content behind possible hours upon hours of gameplay, or to make you pay for it. I plan on buying Street Fighter V anyway, but I wish it had more fighters available upon initial purchase. On the one hand, I congratulate Capcom for seemingly ending the tradition of umpteen versions of each Street Fighter game, but I don’t think they’re quite going about it the right way. I think overall that neglecting the casual player is I think a bad move, but hey, this is conjecture, who knows how long it will take to build up large amounts of Fight Money, or whether it will even take a lot of Fight Money to unlock a new character. You never know, I could end up spending hours upon hours on this game, despite not thinking I will, perhaps this new system will work wonders for keeping my interest in the game more long term.

Toby Saunders is sometimes opinionated, and you’ll find him posting garbage about games, films and his beloved Spurs and Bath City FC on Twitter.