Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Street Fighter V case and the PS4/PC exclusivity

Dear videogames fans, I guess your usual feeds have already filled you in about the waves raised by the Street Fighter V leak. The game was supposed to be one of the megatonic announcements by Sony for its imminent PlayStation Experience, with the PS4/PC exclusivity being the obvious shock factor. And the shock certainly manifested itself in the form of very harsh opinions about the supposed "theft" of such an important title to the vast Xbox crowd. Before investigating, though, another look at the corpus delicti can't hurt:

Street Fighter V Teaser from Laurent LaSalle on Vimeo.

Beautiful, huh? So beautiful that Capcom is scrumbling right now to remove any trace of the teaser, but the damage is done already: except resounding turnarounds, the Xbox One audience will have to wait before getting access to Yoshinori Ono's latest fighting sensation. Sony and Capcom just like Microsoft e Crystal Dynamics, then, but where the Rise of the Tomb Raider deal struck like a bolt from the blue, the japanese affaire doesn't come as a complete surprise.

The jolt lies all in the weight of the game: we're talking about the same Street Fighter V that according to Ono-chin, wouldn't have had a decent budget until 2018. Assuming that Sony has partially funded the game's development in exchange for a timed exclusive, we may be looking at a connotation of the console war where the fight for third parties attention becomes a long term theme of the current hardware generation. As the development costs continue to rise, the software makers are more than happy to evaluate risk-limiting solutions and recoup their costs as soon as possible.

On the other hand, the hardware manifacturers are well aware that an expertly timed release - even if just temporary - can have a huge effect on console sales, even before the actual game's launch. Imagine how many PS4 are being sold right now following the announcement, in close proximity with the year's end holidays. Those are well arranged circumstances from a financial standpoint, and the subsequent disappointment of a large chunk of consumers becomes nothing more than a distraction before higher interests. Immediate advantages: this is the fundamental value of a gaming industry whose internal balance is getting more and more unstable.

To those videogamers worried about this state of things, I would recommend a little bit of optimism. Street Fighter V will come to any successful platform, as it's always the case with Capcom. Victory comes to those who can wait: even the good old Gouken would agree.

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