Why the Street Fighter franchise may never recover

Street Fighter V has launched, and the series may never be the same again. Capcom may as well have shipped a piece of old bologna in those Street Fighter V cases, because that's about as much as the launch version of the game can do, in what many are calling the most botched game launch in recent memory. It now seems likely that Capcom has done irreparable damage to the whole Street Fighter franchise, so here are just a few reasons that they're going to have to fight very hard to get gamers back on their side and beating up innocent cars again.

Pre-ordering is for suckers

The biggest problem with the Street Fighter V disc is that Capcom promised gamers that they would be getting a playable title, but instead, Capcom only released an unfinished game that one can play online, but almost nowhere else. Because even the barest expectations for a playable game were not met, no one is going to buy Capcom's titles at launch anymore. Why pay $60 to play half of a game early when you can wait for the game to go on sale and pay $30 for the full package? It makes no sense to be first on line, and those future launch sales numbers are going to hurt Capcom pretty badly.

Bonus Or No Bonus?

Pre-orders try to entice gamers by offering exclusive or early-release game features or costumes, and that's swell, except Capcom also can't seem to get that part of their act together either. Thousands of people who ordered the game early through Amazon can't seem to get their promised bonuses, and calls to Amazon are falling on deaf ears, or worse, directing people back to Capcom in an infinite loop of non-delivery. How much are you willing to put up with to get a special costume for M. Bison?

No new tale to tell

Sometimes, you just don't feel like going online to have your buttocks handed to you by a leveled-up powerhouse player. Unless you're Garry Kasparov, it's far less demoralizing to have a computer destroy you than some hyperactive 11-year old in Topeka. But Street Fighter V doesn't offer a real offline story mode at launch. You either play online, or you play truncated, pathetic 3-fight survival mode. Playing through Street Fighter as a unique character and seeing his or her ending story has always been a highlight of the series, but without that detail, or even the option to practice against the AI at length, there's no reason to buy the game until that much-needed patch, which, as of this writing, has been promised for mid-summer 2016.

I'm sorry, Dave

Even in the game's brief training mode, critics have said that the AI is reportedly busted badly enough to make the whole mode worthless. Fighting games usually provide a sandbox where players can test out strategies and combos without the threat of losing their stats, but the launch version of Street Fighter V fails to properly deliver on that, tossing players at all levels into the same brutal online competition. Whether or not Capcom can properly develop a challenging AI system for this fifth full installment in the franchise is yet to be determined, but it's also essential for the missing story modes. Without it, you're just a punching bag.

Severe server suckage

Even though Street Fighter V generally forces you to either play against online opponents or play something else entirely, Capcom didn't properly gird their servers for the influx of players. As a result, many players at launch are reporting up to 20-minute wait times before finding a match against anyone else. Once you're actually in a match, you'll be lucky if there's not some kind of game-ending disconnection from Capcom central. While these problems are not atypical for game launches, not many games also force you to play online. Did Capcom learn nothing from EA's 2013 SimCity launch? Let players play by themselves.

Ragequit!

There are online opponents with whom you share a certain camaraderie, even if they're complete strangers…and then there are those who will shoot you and repeatedly bounce their butt off of your head, like in Star Wars: Battlefront. As Street Fighter V currently stands, there are no repercussions for your opponent just leaving the match if they're losing. You've wasted your time, they've preserved their stats, and the whole online competition thing becomes a joke. On the other hand, how can Capcom penalize someone for getting kicked out of a match because their servers suck? No one wins until Capcom fixes this system permanently.

No learning curve

Street Fighter V seems to assume that if you're playing a Street Fighter game, you're already an expert, which is a truly lousy way to allow newer gamers into the fray. There's no way for a new player to ease into the game slowly, because it's a full-on online massacre or nothing, which is really off-putting. While your core audience will dwindle over time as they have babies, switch to other games, and die, you need a new influx of players to keep your brand alive. Capcom has all but told players new to the franchise to get the heck out, and that's absolutely no way to keep the franchise going.

Out of control

PC gamers will be any game's most vocal and dedicated audience, but Capcom even managed to alienate them by limiting controller compatibility for SFV. PC players are reporting that many of their specialty arcade and gaming control setups just don't work with Street Fighter V, which is an affront to the arcade origins of the series. It's unknown if Capcom will actually address these concerns and work on allowing these rigs to function, but it's enough to drive someone out of street fighting for good.

Sorry, Xbox

In a very bizarre move, Capcom won't be releasing Street Fighter V on Xbox, or any Nintendo system—but it will be available on Linux and Windows. While the game may be adapted in the future, since most Street Fighter games go through lots of different iterations, Capcom has completely cut off a huge swath of gamers from the beginning of this game's life. That's a terribly unfriendly move by Capcom. Collectors and completists be damned, because you're probably going to miss out on a whole generation of a classic series.