In 2009, Capcom announced that they would be releasing Street Fighter IV, tossing the age old fighting title into the modern era of gaming. New moves, new graphics and new fighters would all come together to finally toss 3rd Strike out of EVO and fans couldn't have been happier. Then in 2010, they followed up with Super Street Fighter IV, an overall improvement upon the original which gained quite a bit of praise for its multiplayer integration and general bonuses to online play. The one thing you couldn't do, however, was play with anyone who owned SSFIV; buying this new version of the game was absolutely mandatory in order to keep up with any of the online updates, let alone any of the character rebalances. 2011 would see the arrival of some new DLC for SSFIV and the release of another version of the game, Arcade Edition, which would come with some very similar sort of restrictions.
The pattern starts to come full circle once you begin to look at other franchises under the Capcom Umbrella, but focusing directly on their fighting game genre one need only take a peek at Marvel vs Capcom 3 to see the ugly cycle begin to repeat itself. Releasing the game with absolutely none of the innovative features that had been featured in the SSFIV despite assurances from Seth Killian that MvC3 wouldn't be launching barebones, Capcom have recently decided to keep their promises by announcing an entirely new version of the game. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 will be bringing forth twelve more characters, eight additional stages, a few game balances, and no doubt some of the multiplayer modes that really should have launched with the first game in the first place, including Spectator mode. But I suppose if they had, there would be very little incentive to purchase the Ultimate edition, right?
In the past two years they've not only brought two extremely beloved community franchises back to life on a grand scale, but have even found ways of immediately exploiting them. MvC3 hasn't even been around for a year come this new November 'upgraded' re-release, which if not for Activision and the Guitar Hero franchise, would be a concept completely unheard of. I'm having a hard time juggling whether I should be insulted by this release or discouraged. It doesn't even feel worth it making any purchases in the future if the games I buy are just going to be made absolutely worthless only nine months down the line if I refuse to throw down another $39.99. Capcom can certainly argue that the value of the game lies in the new characters, but it's not hard to shake the idea that they're taking advantage of consumers simply because they know that their games are so popular.
Not popular in the same sense that Modern Warfare or Mass Effect will draw in sales, but their series still draw international eyes amongst competitive online gaming circuits. Looking ahead toward future titles like Tekken vs Street Fighter, what's to keep Capcom from performing another re-release several months down the line from that, or to provide me with another copy of a game missing party features, spectator mode, or any kind of tournament options?
This is the very kind of thing that gamers should be up in arms about, because once this kind of action starts the only way to stop it is by letting the developer run the series into the ground. Even publishers that are absolutely notorious for pushing expensive DLC and milking franchises have the sense to pace their releases, and to at the very least provide some sort of different experience from one game to the next. Much of the appeal in a fighting game lies between the community, grouping together with friends and notorious competitors and overcoming them using the only medium available. It's more personal than an FPS, and has more personality than RTS tournaments, something that just about everyone regardless of their technical knowledge of the game can become swept into. While updates, new characters, or even new games do provide the medium for all this entertainment, the difference between community outreach and community exploitation isn't very fine. It's a bold, clear, easy to understand line, and crossing it means you're just looking to insult your fans.
No doubt some people will purchase the game regardless, serious competitors have no choice after all and their close friends and followers will want to know what the buzz is all about. Newcomers to the series may find this to be the perfect time to pick up a copy and take advantage of all the new features; but the rest of us have a lot less incentive to investigate this kind of a scam. With no real guarantee that the game won't simply be outdated, and with Capcom's lead man more than willing to say whatever it takes to get the heat off of any faults that their titles may have, it's hard to maintain any kind of trust with the developer. It would be nice if, within the next nine months, they take some time to explain what makes this new title worth abandoning the last for, or possibly explain why it's worthwhile putting down close to a hundred dollars down on a series in a single year. Or maybe if we're lucky we'll see some DLC for the game before December, assuming they've got time to spare between all of this tremendous work.