The Uncertain Future of Street Fighter X Tekken

Three months since release, and Street Fighter X Tekken is off to a rocky start. How did it come to this, and what does the future hold?

After last week's reports on the sales of Street Fighter X Tekken, it seems fewer people than expected were ready to "cross the line." Developer Capcom admitted that sales for the game did not match expectations, stating, "Sales of Street Fighter X Tekken have fallen short of our plan." The reason cited: "cannibalism" within the fighting game genre. "We believe one of [the] causes is cannibalism because of the large number of other games in this genre that were launched within a short time." But is cannibalism the main culprit for SFXT's woes? Are there other factors that could have contributed?

Sure there are, but I agree that oversaturation in the fighting game marketplace is "one of [the] causes" why Street Fighter X Tekken fell short of the projected 2 million sales mark. I warned of this in a recent editorial: as more and more fighting games are released, the community's time and resources are stretched thin. Meanwhile, the games are not doing enough to grow the audience proportionally. Having one game succeed at the expense of others is an unfortunate reality that we will see happen more and more.

I believe [simplicity] is the trap SFXT has fallen into, because many of the game's mechanics are being ignored.
In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests a growing concern within the fighting game community was that SFXT's success would pull interest away from Street Fighter IV. There are a lot of great fighting games available now, games that could hold a serious player's attention for many years. Yet more fighters keep coming, fighters targeted at that same player. And when that player has a vested interest in seeing his game--the one he has put so much time and effort into, the one where his skills will shine against stiff competition--succeed it will become increasingly difficult to pull him into something new.

Returning to Street Fighter X Tekken itself, when I watch competitive play I see a recurring strategy: jab. Jabs, and other safe pokes, are so good in this game. They're usually safe on block and hard to counter, so why not just throw them around all day? Eventually one connects, leading into a long combo, and then the two combatants go back to the jabs. Is this how everyone plays all the time? No. But this style is widely accepted as the most economical way to fight across the entire cast. And it's incredibly tedious to watch.

In the editorial On Cheapness, Capcom's Seth Killian wrote: "It's Capcom's job to provide games that are fun for a wide range of playing ability without allowing the game to become transparent, and to degenerate into simplistic routines for winning, incapable of holding a serious player's interest." Sadly, I believe this is the trap SFXT has fallen into, partly because many of the game's mechanics are being ignored. Take meter usage. You can spend meter on several different mechanics, but 90 percent of the time it is used for tag cancels. Tag cancels are one of the easiest and safest ways to switch characters, usually as part of a combo that leads to good damage. Why bother with anything else?

And when was the last time you saw Pandora used outside of a combo video? Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has shown that a comeback mechanic can get players and viewers really excited to watch a match. It keeps tension high throughout the fight, right up until the last second. But Pandora is viewed as essentially useless. Because there's only an eight-second timer after activating Pandora, you don't have enough time to play the long jab-and-step game discussed above. Using Pandora usually means you are forfeiting the match.

Then there are the gems. I really like the idea of gems in concept; being able to add a personal touch and maximize my fighting style was something I enjoyed in Jump Ultimate Stars on the Nintendo DS. While Jump was not the most well-balanced game, at least all the modifiers were available in the game. Capcom seriously shot itself in the foot by splitting up the gems and offering obviously more powerful gems for purchase than those given for free. This model of buying power has never been received favorably within a highly competitive game, especially in the West, and thus the audience turned its back on these trinkets.

As a result, gems are typically banned in tournament play. As more and more techniques and depth are stripped out or ignored, you're left with a game that can't help but feel shallow.

There were plenty of issues surrounding the game's release as well. Between conventions and other prerelease events, the audience for Street Fighter X Tekken saw a lot of the game before release, before several mechanics were added. Gradually, as those mechanics were introduced, doubt settled in. When the game was released, it was to an already skeptical audience--and then the final straw snapped. Twelve new characters were discovered on the disc, just sitting there, waiting for Capcom to flip the switch. This discovery was the tipping point from caution to complete negativity, which Capcom has thus far been unable to quell.

Add to that the constant audio syncing glitches when playing online, the lack of local cooperative play for the Xbox 360, and the recent, game-crashing knife/fireball bug--the hits just keep on coming. For a growing portion of the community, the perception for SFXT is nothing short of "this game is a buggy, unfinished mess." And when that's how your game is perceived, how are players supposed to feel pride in gaining proficiency? This is the main problem all these smaller issues feed into: loss of perceived value for being skilled at Street Fighter X Tekken.

This is the main problem these smaller issues feed into: loss of perceived value for skill at Street Fighter X Tekken.
A good fighting game draws a crowd. That crowd streams matches, creates tutorials, and hosts tournaments. This draws in more competition, drives up the quality of competition, and gives value to player skill. Seth Killian sums it up nicely: "The 'network effect' is the way I think about how wins in a given fighting game develop meaning and value for the players. Basically, the more people that are playing any one game, the more meaningful your skill at that game becomes. You might be the world's greatest Clay Fighter player, but with only four other people still playing that game, there's less collective meaning in that title, less challenge, and, correspondingly, less incentive for others to get into the game."

With so much negativity positioned against Street Fighter X Tekken, some are ready (and eager) to write it off as a total loss. However, I believe it is too early to tell. The game has a lot of interesting ideas that we have yet to see fully realized. I may be disappointed at their execution, but not the ideas themselves. At this juncture, I believe Capcom has three options. First, and this is what I'm hopeful for, they release a very substantial, downloadable update to the game, a la Arcade Edition for Super Street Fighter IV, bundled with the 20 dollar DLC character pack later this year. When those new characters drop I know a lot of people, myself included, will return to see how they play. At that time, if Capcom can restore viability to Pandora, speed up the matches, somehow even the playing field with gems (free gem vouchers?), and make Street Fighter X Tekken feel like a complete game then they a shot at success.

If Capcom are unable or otherwise unwilling to make such drastic changes they should go with the second option: walk away. Just cut losses and move on to the next project. There's an important lesson about communication to be learned here. The community was excited for SFXT's release, but they were also concerned about gems, about Pandora, about all these systems that keep getting added. They knew something was amiss, but Capcom asked for trust. And 1.4 million consumers trusted them--then all those potential complications the fans were murmuring about came to pass. All the warning signs were there. Dropping the last DLC and walking away from SFXT would free up space in an already crowded market, and let attention be carried away to the (several) other up-and-coming fighting games.

The third option is Hyper Street Fighter X Tekken. This option would be a perversion of the first: a full, retail release priced at 40 dollars that includes the DLC costumes, characters, and another specialized gem pack. This is the worst option. Even if Capcom successfully addressed all the game's faults, this release would only compound the negative sentiment towards them as a nickel-and-dime company. It would hurt not only SFXT by splitting an already thin user base, but future fighting game releases as well. People are catching on to the cycle of Street Fighter IV to Super Street Fighter IV; Marvel vs. Capcom 3 to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. This model of constantly splintering your fan base is not sustainable, and consumers won't stand for it much longer.

The future of Street Fighter X Tekken hangs by a thread, but I believe Capcom still has the chance to turn things around, for better or worse. How do you think they will respond, and which option would you prefer. Capcom says they're listening, hopefully they are willing to act on what they hear.

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231 comments
steve4532
steve4532

what makes me laugh with there milking process in terms greedy is the 12 character DLC IS STILL NOT FREE

sfkm2
sfkm2

*puts copy in the trash*

 

 

ShinjiEx
ShinjiEx

Street Fighter X Tekken is Street Fighter 4 with Tekken characters...

ACWH
ACWH

I bought the game because I liked the concept and I'm a fan of both titles. I found out about the DLC shenanighans afterwards. Result = not buying next Capcom game.

ps3l337
ps3l337

very informative article and seems to make perfect sense to me. my question is why do the Tekken characters have to change? why not have the option to play tekken style and have the Street Fighter charaters change?

Lexxurious
Lexxurious

Nice article Max. The amount of fighting games I am currently playing is the reason why i havent picked up SFXT yet. It does seem like a fun game, however i didnt know about all the negative issues with the game e.g. jab strategy, Pandora and gem problems.

Stardust7
Stardust7

Nice review gratz ! ... i agree with your options ...the game is not bad..it just need a "DLC" ( Downloadable content , if you catch my drift ) to fixing its problems ...and later CAPCOM need to do a awesome game to redeem itself ...I suggest a new version RIVAL SCHOOL with nekketsu nikki !!!!!!!!  ...could be amazing! :)

PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

As if Capcom would learn anything. They did the same with SFIV and MVC3 not a long time ago, and just went on to do this SFXT mess without changing anything. I will be stunned if they change anything with their next soon-to-come fighter.

 

It was bad in the days of SF2, but back then there was no DLC and atleast the first version was great and full compared to these new entries. Not buying Capcom is ridicilously easy these days. Really looking forward to seeing what Namco does with Tekken vs Street Fighter, atleast they're not rushing it.

Human-Pheonix
Human-Pheonix

Great article Maxwell I've always loved yur articles and the storytime with Soulcalibur V best video ever. Yu kno the genre well and I'm a huge Fighting game fan. Love SFxT but why they allow to put a super powerful attack gems on someone like Zangief is beyond me. They should make a restriction on that in online matches. 

 

I've always love Street Fighter but I'm still ticked off about the on disc dlc I wanted Guy and Cody so Badly but the bright side is when the DLC comes out gives me more reason to play the game even more

xSlugox
xSlugox

DLC broke the industry. Once companies like Activision and Capcom learned people will pay for minor updates to rehashed material over and over again, this is whats to be expected, sheeps will pay for trash so we will always see trash.

anticusho1984
anticusho1984

at this point I think the best bet for capcom is to release all characters as free DLC also free balance updates, that will help the sales at this point

evansdada
evansdada

This game is a major disappointment with me.  I have tried to give it a chance many of times but to no avail.  It reminds me of another Marvel vs. Capcom and I never cared for that game.  Most games I buy I don't usually want to trade in but this one has gotten me to that point.  And it didn't help matters any when I found out that there were characters already in the game but could not utilize them due to the Capcom "DLC" fiasco.  I should have waited for the Namco version of this.

Business_Fun
Business_Fun

Shame. I rented this when it first came out, fully expecting to just spend a few days enjoying the various over the top super combos and slapping the computer around as Kazuya. I was pleasantly surprised to discover an excellent fighter that did a superb job of marrying the two franchises. The Tekken bunch felt right at home in 2D and with a little practice I was throwing out Shaolin Spin Kicks and Demon Slayers like it was 1996 all over again.

 

So I think it would be a great shame if Capcom were to give up on this. I make no comment on their DLC practices because I think that everything that can be said there has been said already, and I have no insights to offer on how 'shallow' or pared back the fighting mechanics in SFXT might be compared to its Street Fighter stable mates (they felt great to me but then I'm hardly a competitive player - perhaps that makes me part of the problem?).  All I can say is that my experience of the game is of a tremendously enjoyable fighter that I fully intend to add to my collection at some point soon.

scoobydoosmj
scoobydoosmj

Namco always showed more respect to their fans then Capcom. Its stead milking their fans with BS extra costumes and constant updates Namco releases 1 complete game and includes limitless costume choices. Then they do the best thing and go back into the garage and you wont here about the next Tekken game for 3 years when the next one is good and ready 

johnlyw
johnlyw

Hmm that's weird.. Did Capcom never realise that by asking consumers to pay a DLC price for something that was already on the disc be a cause of poor sales? I, for one, do not like to be cheated this way. That's why although I am a big fan of Tekken, I avoided buying this rip-off game.

TruSake
TruSake

When is Street Fighter vs Mortal Kombat going to happen?

scoobydoosmj
scoobydoosmj

Street Fighter X Tekken answered a question no one asked. I love both games but i'm a Tekken player first. Trying to shoe horn charters with a 150+ move list into the street fighter engin was a stupid Idea. All thou Capcom has been screwing us for decades every one wait for Ultimate Super Hyper Street Fighter X Tekken the Arcade Edition Plus alpha. I can't hate Capcom to much I'm eagerly awaiting Darkstalkers 4

risako9
risako9

Fighting genre fans, i wish we could go back to those days that we unlock the characters just by finishing the game with different characters.

shadowboy88
shadowboy88

Wow, this article is undeniably spot on. I think capcom should really try to refocus on their dlc packaging to the consumers. its pretty obvious that fans are not happy at this release, and they shouldnt "beat about the bush" as this will get worse if it continues. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me....theres never a third :(

LP4EVA2005
LP4EVA2005

i agree with pretty much everything you said mcgee..its the same thing with every character: LP, MP, HP, switch out to your partner continue the combo, rinse and repeat. there is no skill what so ever, smh.

sevendiamantes
sevendiamantes

Do not trouble yourself with this company any more. Let it fall and burn down into little pieces. Ignore their games. Let them beg for your money. Make them pay! 

fantasyfacade
fantasyfacade

I didn't get it for a few reasons... I'm not a fan of street fighter and have never really liked the fighting controls used in it. "DLC" characters should have come with the game and finally any inclining I had left to get it (because I'm a Tekken fan) was destroyed by there being on disc dlc, since I'm against it.

Schwarte
Schwarte

With so many complaints about how publishers handle DLC these past few years, I don't really get how things like this happen. The exact issue of having to unlock content that ships with the game has always been met with huge disapproval, it just seems ridiculous to still think that this is a good move. If there's one method that's been met with even more fury in the past, it's the option of gaining lasting advantages by paying for them. Especially if these advantages can exclusively be gained by using real money. Doing BOTH in one game makes your priorities very clear. Personally, I'd think that even the greediest men should have a basic understanding of the influence this is going to have on the public reception of your company and product. To say that market is the problem for this game is, while obviously true to some degree, a very poor excuse. I don't think the "too many fighting sims" argument should count for a game with such a huge fanbase, or rather for a game combining the two biggest fanbases in the genre.

isthatjarod
isthatjarod

I never became a real fanboy of street fighter except for their artwork , every since the original mortal kombat came out so many years ago and then tekken came around and made it even more irrelevant... I caught on to this "milking" process before street fighter 3 and every since then, i have never bought a copy of its game... Instead I just played it using the sucker who bought it as soon as it came out

KingJduro
KingJduro

Maybe capcom should focus on releasing a game and all the content on the game being available to the gamer who just paid for the game.  Lock disc content is ridiculous.  Capcom has no one to blamed but themselves!

wonzan
wonzan

Basically, Capcom has a chance to change things but I guarantee you all they won't.Whoever is in charge at Capcom is currently thinking of nothing but making short term profits and getting as much money as possible. Which suggests to me that the people in charge are probably going to grab as much money as possible and when the capcom ship starts to sink, they will sell their shares or whatever and run off with the money. Business is ugly, just like politics. Hence they are often so intertwined.

mayatola
mayatola

Such a great article. It's always a pleasure to read your articles, Mr. McGee.

I used to be a big fan of Capcom fighting games, but after all the Super, Hyper, Champion, Turbo, Ultimate edition crap, I'm done. I really hope someone from there is listening and they go with option 1, or at worst 2. If they do 3, they'll never see another cent from me.

BladeStrike1234
BladeStrike1234

They keep releasing updated versions of these fighting games as full games a year or so later. Look at every Street Fighter game. Multiple versions. Stop giving them full price for updated versions.

freefadi
freefadi

I lost all faith in Capcom and every new stunt they pull it only emphasizes that. They ruined my favorite franchise: Resident Evil when RE5 turned out the way it did. They also gave Devil May Cry to a developer who ruined it. And they also keep on ripping gamers all around especially with Street Fighter related DLC.  Anyway good article, I really enjoyed it.

PyreofKoL
PyreofKoL

It's nice to see this and the article on Capcom's Street Fighter Anniversary package. It really puts forth the feelings of the player base (myself included) without sounding pedantic or petulant. I had high hopes for Capcom after hearing about the fifth Devil May Cry game, because they were branching out and working with a Western developer in attempt to appeal to a wider audience, which meant going out of their way to do something for their very vocal Western fan base. Granted, a large part of that Western fan base has only given them complaints in return for this big step, but that doesn't mean all of us have. Japanese developers are struggling for relevance in the last decade and stunts like Capcom's certainly aren't helping. I know they're trying to make money, but that will be very difficult to do without customers who are willing to put up with their underhanded methods. 

supersaiyan_sam
supersaiyan_sam

Very nice article mate. An enjoyable and fulfilling read like somebody wrote what my mind was saying. One of the better articles of its time on this site. Well done mate.

maaly81
maaly81

Capcom lost me when I bought SF4, then like 6 weeks later Super SF4 came out....I forgave and then the MVC3 ridiculousness happened with DLC characters, then a whole new edition with those DLC characters and some more modes and junk....This game was destined to fail big. I understand they wanna make money, but dont treat consumers like dumb robots who throw hard earned cash in the Capcom money pit.....

danteMdie
danteMdie

Very good article. Approached the whole problem surrounding SFxTK in a very comprehensive way. 

 

I don't usually find these readings very interesting, but the content of this article is way too good to be ignored, since it shows that you have a good understanding of the "Fighting games scene". I criticized one of your articles before, but i really can't do it now.

 

Congratz

keech
keech

I tend to agree for the most part.  SFxT had so much potential and a lot of neat ideas.  Had Capcom not decided to hack the game into pieces and sell them off one at a time it would of done better.

 

Capcom seems to be in this odd identity crisis with It's fighting games right now, which is the other problem.  They are trying to appeal to the hardcore tourney crowds AND the casual gamer at the same time with the same game.I like Street Fighter, I like Smash Brothers, but I do NOT want my Street Fighter playing like Smash Brothers.  I'm pretty sure most people would agree with me.  Trying to make a competitive fighting game that's tournament worthy that appeals to casuals that don't know what you mean when you say "shoryuken motion" IMO will never work.

steve4532
steve4532

capcom keeps blaming  cannibalism as an excuse knowing they are trying to rip us off with the DLC ! characters THAT WERE ALREADY ON THE DISC ! thats why there sales went down an nobody bought there game.

SsjZero
SsjZero

Stop raping us for our money. Make complete games without us having to buy the rest after spending $60. Capcom used to be a great company but now they're starting to get cheap. Not buying another fighting game from them again AND they better not do this same crap with RE6 or I'm never buying ANY type of game from this company again. Take more time out to complete your games! We can wait honestly.

barrel224
barrel224

I wish there was a like button for these reviews. Excellently done Maxwell.

unbentonslaught
unbentonslaught

I actually really like SFxTK, I couldn't care less about disc-locked DLC and whether or not Capcom just wants my money. The only problem I have with it is the fact that 2 out of four people play as ken in multiplayer and counter every thing you do with a shoryuken.

Maxwell
Maxwell moderator

 @Business_Fun If you enjoy the game, more power to you! And never consider yourself "part of the problem" just because you're not a competitive player. The core of the fighting game community may be tournament players, but the fighting genre cannot survive on them alone.

Maxwell
Maxwell moderator

 @danteMdie I'm glad you gave this article a chance, and enjoyed it. I remember your previous comment as well, I shall go respond to it now.

Maxwell
Maxwell moderator

 @barrel224 Well, at least there's a like button for your comment :)

mayatola
mayatola

 @danusty At most, I would pay $5, but they would never do that (if they decide to charge, they are gonna do it big I'm sure), and then I would just be a sucker for saying that I wouldn't give them another cent. Really, it's 1 or 2. 3 just looks bad for all of us. :P

 

PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

 @bgghgubcjhgknjk Issue is that if the DLC and semi-updates don't sell, Capcom won't do a final, complete version.

 

Their tactic is to create a bareboned game with on-disc DLC tacked on. If people buy the game enough, they make more DLC or new version. If people buy that new version and DLC enough, they create yet more DLC and new versions. At some point there just won't be enough interest and Capcom cuts it down right there. No more support and they've moved on to the next game. It's the opposite of GOTY, Gold etc. versions which are released once the game is complete.

 

There's nothing wrong with well-done DLC if there's demand, but new versions screw up the market.

danteMdie
danteMdie

 @Maxwell Seriously, try going to EVO. If i had the money i would - as a player and as someone who also organizes FG tournaments. In fact, i'm always amazed on how well EVO is organized as an event - so many people, so many setups, so many problems to manage. 

 

But hey, the whole american scene is become more and more professional. Even if you can't go to EVO, try to attend some major and talk to the people down there. It should prove to be an interesting experience. ;)

bgghgubcjhgknjk
bgghgubcjhgknjk

 @PrpleTrtleBuBum I just believe with about 50 characters in total is there really much need for dlc in SSFIV or SF X Tekken? Most of what I see is just alternate costumes or free characters (excluding the Arcade Edition) is that really so bad as everybody says? You don't always need to wait for a final version but I would reccomend in most cases just waiting for the Super version which is often one of the best version of the game