Street Fighter V will launch in just a few weeks, but Capcom's already sharing details about the game's long-term content strategy to keep players hooked. Perhaps the most notable announcement the studio made was that, for the first time, a Street Fighter game will have a proper story mode. Series producer Yoshinori Ono (whom we talked with extensively; you can read the entire interview here) says that the new single-player campaign will be released in June as free downloadable content for anyone who buys Street Fighter V.
"When we announced Street Fighter V [in 2014], we started getting all of this feedback from fans and press," Ono says. "My Twitter account was flooded with people saying, 'Other fighting games are doing pretty cool stuff with story modes — are you guys doing anything?'" All that feedback came as a bit of a surprise to Ono, so he set out to develop a story mode that essentially bridges the events of Street Fighter IV with Street Fighter III, which comes later in the universe's chronology.
All told, the Street Fighter V story mode will feature over an hour of in-game cinematic sequences running off the same 3D engine that powers the rest of the game, and that's not including the actual gameplay elements. Capcom didn't want to say how long the story mode will take, all told, because it isn't finalized yet, but it'll be several hours of additional content.
That's in addition to the character stories that'll be present on day one. As in past Street Fighter games, playing through the arcade mode with your chosen character will reveal details and backstory on his or her place in the Street Fighter universe. That story content will feature 2D art from the artist Bangus, who has worked on other such pieces of art for the series in the past. "He was just the perfect fit," Ono says. "He's such an iconic figure in Street Fighter's history."
Capcom also dropped some details on how it plans to approach game updates for Street Fighter V, and it sounds like the company doesn't plan to nickel-and-dime players for updates throughout the game's lifespan. Instead of dropping bigger paid updates a year or two after launch, Capcom says it will continuously deliver free updates. Instead of selling "upgrade packs" that some players might buy and some might not, Capcom will release free balance updates to everyone.
"What we found out is, by selling upgrade packs, only a percentage of the community would end up upgrading, and it ended up creating all these sub-communities where people were playing on different balanced iterations," says Capcom's director of brand marketing and eSports, Matt Dahlgren. Now it sounds as though everyone will be playing on the same version of Street Fighter without having to shell out for these balance updates.
Of course, there will still be paid content to unlock, either via in-game "fight money" or cold hard cash. Capcom will launch its store a month after the game is released to give people time to play through the day-one content and earn some fight money. "If you play through the majority of single-player content at launch, you'll earn enough money to get the first new DLC character free of charge," says Dahlgren. After a month, Capcom will also start its daily challenges, which the company believes will provide a consistent source of fight-money revenue for players to earn. We can't judge until the game is actually out, but it sounds like there will be plenty of ways to access new content without having to spend real-life cash.
This approach to updates plays right into the strategy Yoshinori Ono laid out — he wants the game to be as accessible as possible to the widest audience. Free updates that everyone can access certainly should help with that goal and keep the community from becoming segregated. And the free story-mode update coming in June should be icing on the cake for big fans of the series, particularly if the demand Ono saw for such a feature is accurate. "We've never done anything like this before in terms of the type of presentation, ambience, the type of look we're doing in story mode," Ono says. "We want people to see that we've really worked very hard to provide story content that fans have been asking for and that everyone will enjoy."
Street Fighter V's story mode won't be available until June, but the full game will be out on February 16th for PlayStation 4 and PC.