If you weren’t already aware, Evolution 2017- the world’s largest fighting game tournament, took place over the weekend and once again, it lived up to the expectations of the fighting game community (FGC). Players from around the world gathered once again to put their skills to test against one another in true competitive fashion. The players did not disappoint and demonstrated once again why this community continues to grow, year over year.
The FGC has grown in scale and this is none more apparent than in the production quality of the Evolution tournament series. Stream viewers reached record levels this year and the pros managed to put on a fantastic show. However, this year carried a different tone than previous years. Although the pro players were able to put on quality matches exceeding the excitement of previous years, it became clear the for one game in particular, players put on a fantastic show in spite of the game, not because of it. Anyone paying attention to Capcom became increasingly aware that this company has lost sight of why they remained the centerpiece of this community for so long.
Street Fighter V retained the top spot in viewership throughout the tournament. The market has since caught up with Capcom and now the FGC is being presented with higher quality products with companies that understand the fighting game player. Much like practice and continuous improvement needed to succeed in this genre, companies like ArcSystem Works and Namco have proven that they understand what players and (more importantly viewers) are looking for.
Competitors and viewers may have differing opinions in what makes one product stand out over another. While competitors may define depth and nuance in mechanics as quality, viewers may prioritize style and aesthetic. However, it becomes very clear when a company manages to nail both.
Fortunately for this community, there are many options to choose from. Tekken, Guilty Gear, among many others, continue to elevate the bar for quality products. Visually, mechanically, and aesthetically, these games are now the staple of the fighting community and will continue to grow in player base and mass appeal.
As encouraging as it might be for these other games, it’s concerning as a consumer how long it has taken for this community to judge a game’s popularity based on its quality, not its legacy. Like any product, the one that is better overall should become the standard, end of story. If this is the case, all competitors are forced to rise to the new expectations and companies are then forced to work for their consumers and not the other way around. For much too long, due to its extensive legacy, consumers have often let this element dictate how they make their purchases. This has resulted in a lesser product in SFV and Capcom continues to succeed without truly earning their merit.
Ironically, it is the FGC community which should recognize merit, not meritocracy, in their products. As a community that understands the value of hard work, it would benefit everyone involved to place the same level of expectations on the products the purchase, not just the legacy of an era far gone.
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