Fans, Risks, and Fighting Video Games
Make a fighting game. Make it easy to play, with a deeper system for the pros so they are rewarded for their skill.
When you’ve got your fan base, the way to keep them happy and get more money from them is to tweak the system and add more moves, add more characters.
If you look at the history of KOF and SF, you can see what happens when you stray from the formula.
KOF 96 introduced rolls and people freaked out. This system stayed up till 98. These were the hey days of SNK.† I didn’t like 96 when I first saw it and didn’t play it until late the following year on neo geo cd.
SF III. En masse, people turned their back on the parry system. However, a small fan base stuck with it and then by 3S, everyone is like yeah wicked.† The question is did the other players come back? I don’t think so. They came back for IV.
The question is why would a game company take such risks with their fan base? As a fan, all I wanted was a tweak and more moves and characters. What did you want?
SFIV: same old game, with new graphics and a new system feature that can be totally bypassed. All the fans are happy.
KOF XII: it’s like 96/97/SFIII all over again. The masses are not happy. There is a small group of fans but this time SNKP don’t stick to their guns, reverting back to an old system for XIII. Will this pay off for SNKP? The fans that wanted a tweak get a totally different game and the other fans aren’t that excited because† 2k2um is still new and fun!
The reason for a game company to make a sequel is to keep fans pumping coins into the machine when they are tired of the first. History has shown that bringing in new fighting systems is really risky.† XII was even more different in beta tests. What could have happened if the fans had liked it?
Capcom didn’t take risks again with IV. SNKP tried again, even after the backlash of 99, with another three year cycle to try and evolve and convince the fans.† I have to give them Kudos.† However, they failed.
This year, they have given up taking risks.† Same old system, with a couple of system features that don’t really seem that important, but will reward better players.† Will the fans be happy? Or will SNKP still lose?
Interestingly, had I been asked in 1996, I probably would have said “no” to rolls. Now, I can’t live without them.† Thank you SNK, for trying to evolve, and not leaving me to settle with some fireball+dragon gameplay. It’s easy, but… kinda boring, don’t you think?†
SNKP is taking a lot of flak at the moment for the unpatched state of XIII, but I’m not that sure they deserve it. They took risks, they got burned, and now, with a limited budget and a new president that doesn’t see profit in arcades, who knows how much longer they will last?† Why don’t we wait and see the console version, before damning them all to hell…