To say the launch of Street Fighter V got off to a rocky start would be an understatement.
Street Fighter V should have been the great comeback story for the missing-in-action fighting series when released on PlayStation 4 and PC this year. Not to mention win back some love for Capcom, after the publisher mishandled franchises like Mega Man, Devil May Cry, and Resident Evil. That did not happen.
Following the game’s February release, critics bashed Street Fighter V for lacking single-player content such as a standard arcade mode. In its place was a poorly-illustrated Character Story Mode consisting of only three flimsy matches. Outside of Practice and Survival Mode, initial owners of Street Fighter V were left with the highly-competitive online mode for substance — but that too was plagued with problems such as unreliable matchmaking and connectivity. Not a fantastic start for the long-awaited (seven years, to be exact) sequel to Street Fighter IV.
Needless to say, the terrible reputation Street Fighter V built up hindered its early sales.
In the UK, the game failed to beat week one sales of Street Fighter IV and came in second to Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Street Fighter V then plummeted to 10th place in its second week in the UK; a 78 percent drop. The Japanese gaming market – dominated by handhelds and mobile games – was less kind to Capcom’s prominent fighting series, as Street Fighter V failed to surpass week one sales of Street Fighter IV. But what about the game’s performance in North America? Surely the Street Fighter brand is stronger in the good ol’ U.S. of A? Well, according to the February 2016 NPD sales chart, Street Fighter V failed to land in the top five; settling for seventh place.
Capcom expected to sell 2 million copies of Street Fighter V by March 31st, 2016. According to the publisher’s recently released sales figures, only 1.4 million copies were shipped since the game’s February release. That’s the exact same number Capcom posted in May of this year.
Sales of Street Fighter V have come to a screeching halt.
Even with Sony funding the development and marketing of Street Fighter V, Capcom can’t be happy with the game’s pitiful returns. So then, why did Capcom jeopardize its biggest release to date with little content? Because the eSports players needed time to practice for EVO 2016.
If Capcom delayed Street Fighter V to June, when the actual story mode dropped as DLC, it would have provided little time for the eSport players to hone their skills for EVO’s July 15 deadline. At the cost of offering worthwhile content for casual players, Capcom gambled on the hardcore fighting crowd to sell its game. As demonstrated by weak worldwide sales, Capcom lost that gamble.
There was one benefit to serving the fighting game community first. Street Fighter V broke EVO records with the most registration for a single game in four days. And yet, the hype did not lead to better sales.
With other fighting games like Mortal Kombat X and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U offering oodles of content, the $60 price tag for Street Fighter V at launch was unjustifiable. If Capcom wanted its game to be a successful platform that grew in content every month, then it should have taken a page from the free-to-play fighter Killer Instinct, which delivered three seasons worth of excellent content for players on Xbox One and PC.
Instead, Capcom damaged the Street Fighter name by releasing the fifth installment as an Early Access game sold at full price.
Capcom can still make things right with the right marketing push and DLC content for Street Fighter V (look at how Destiny changed its dreadful early impression with The Taken King expansion). As of now, it looks like the Japanese publisher just K.O. another one of its money-making franchises.