TL;DR: I would love Street Fighter V to have daily and weekly quests! Oh, and voiced emotes for communication with your online opponents.
I’m sure many of you loved fighting games when you were younger. Remember your high school and college years? Street Fighter, Tekken, King of Fighters, Mortal Kombat… We would spend so much time having so much fun with our friends, taunting each other and trying to land that oh-so-elusive “in your face!” combo.
But then these games kind of went away. Some of us still play them, a few of us still love them, but for most of us, it’s not the same. I’m hoping Street Fighter V manages to recapture some of that feeling.
This would need to happen in two stages. First, the obvious one: make a super fun game and get people to check it out. The series has become more popular in recent years (thank you Internet), and Capcom seems intent on making it more accessible to new and returning players (easy to learn, hard to master) so I’m hopeful many of us will want to try it out. Let’s assume that happens, and people get into it.
“With today’s Street Fighter IV,
there is no real incentive
to come back and play more.”
Then you get stage 2: keeping people engaged. And that’s even more tricky.
With today’s Street Fighter IV, there is no real incentive to come back and play more. Well, the enjoyment of playing the game of course, but pfft! everyone knows that’s not why people play. 🙂 I like seeing my rating go up, but there’s no in game “reason” to play every day or every week… I think if you see where I’m going with this.
Capcom recently announced that Street Fighter 2 would be a “game as a service”: you’ll need to buy the base game, but then it becomes a “free to play” type model. It’s hardly surprising: MOBAs, CCGs and free to plays are all the rage, and for good reason: they make a lot of money. I know that “free to play” can be a bad word, but all it means is “developer needs to find a way to make you want to spend more money”. They can do it by “frustrating you into spending money”, or by “making extra stuff you actually want to spend money on”. And if we take our gaze away from mobile games aimed at very large non-gamer audiences, and look at League of Legends or Hearthstone, I think we can agree that it can be done right.
Unsurprisingly, Street Fighter V’s “game systems” updates will be free, and content (characters, cosmetic, etc) will be for pay. The game will also have two currencies (in game “fight money” and “zenni” for pay). I’m sure getting enough fight money to buy a new character will require a lot of dedication, but in previous games you had to pay with real money, so I think it’ll be a good thing in the end.
So, back to incentives: most of those free to play type games have tasks for you to accomplish every day/week/month. And while that can become overwhelming when designed aggressively, it can also provide a great motivation for playing the game, and give you a feeling of accomplishment when you do. Of course it’s tricky: some mobile games overdo it (“log in 28 days each month to get a super mega bonus!!”), but some games strikes the right balance. Hearthstone is one example of a critically acclaimed game in the category. It’s relatively simple: you get one new “quest” per day, and you can accumulate three if you don’t play every day. They have various conditions (win three games, use card type X, etc), and reward you with in game currency. It’s easy to see how this would translate into a fighting game.
“For deep games like these,
which you can play for years,
it’s hard to see the end goal.”
I’m sure some people will say that you shouldn’t need these quests to enjoy the game, but here’s the important part. It’s not quite that you need them: the emphasis is on the feeling of accomplishment I was referring to earlier. For deep games like these, which you can play for years, it’s hard to see the end goal. “Getting better” is a motivation of course, but you never really reach it: get to the top of bronze league, get to silver league, get to diamond league… “Those guys are the real deal, I’m just a casual player, I’m not all that good, I don’t play that much”, says the dude spending two hours five days a week practicing as hard as he can. We’ve all said it. There’s no real end goal, it’s only ever fun if you have something to look forward to, something to try and accomplish down the line. But it can also become discouraging if it’s the only thing you have to look forward to.
So one the way to that faraway goal, I think we need pit stops. Little pats on the back, not always because we’re super good, but because we completed something and we get a cookie for it (or some extra fight money as a bonus). That’s why I think a (reasonable) quests system is good design in a game like this, and why I really hope Street Fighter V has one. I really want to want to play it.
Oh, and while we’re at it, why get an emote system too? A handful of pre-recorded voice emotes, kindly taunting, thanking or complementing your opponent. This would allow players to communicate, while making sure that communication doesn’t become… unpleasant. Those who want to voice chat still can, but a “safe alternative” would be great.
Note: Talking about the business model, looking farther down the line I cannot imagine the game won’t drop in price relatively quickly. $40 after a year, free two years in. By then you already got the money out of those who were ready to pay for the game anyway, and it allows you to grow the community and awareness for the game. Plus, you expose those free players to your DLC… Basically, the free to play model.