A note from Will Harrison, time-traveling journalist and editor:
So, the release of Street Fighter V has come and gone. Wouldn’t you know it, the servers still suck and the game is damn near unplayable in online mode (which, wouldn’t ya know, is the only way you can earn currency or titles. Shiny!).
With that in mind, please feel free to ignore the positivity and ineptitude of the following words. I clearly have no idea what I’m talking about.
Sigh. Capcom. You ruin everything. EVERYTHING.
The digital tension in the air was thick with anticipation as 9 p.m. eastern time came and went. The servers for Capcom’s first online beta test of Street Fighter V were to go live at this time, giving many players their first taste of the Sony and Capcom joint fighting game venture.
That magic hour came and went. All that was left behind was a snarling need by the fans to find a way avoid the “PRESS ANY BUTTON TO CONTINUE” screen. The beta was live, but Capcom’s servers were very much not.
The Twittersphere was full of fans clamoring in confusion, anger, and impatience. Capcom attempted to keep players abreast of the server situations, with updates coming from the accounts of Peter Rosas, Capcom’s community manager, and Yoshinori Ono, the Street Fighter series producer.
An influx of players attempted to access the Street Fighter V servers at once, with Capcom stating that around 10,000 and more accounts were trying to log in at once. Like many others, I attempted to access the servers for almost 2 hours before giving up, going to bed, and planning to try again in the morning before work.
As of 7:30 a.m., the servers were still non-functional.
Should the Capcom faithful have their pitchforks at the ready? Is the human effigy in the shape of Ryu ready to be burned at the altar of fan outrage? After all, promises about letting players demo a future game for free were made and broken. Somebody must pay, right?
As many fighting game fans know, far too many recent titles have outright failed in regards to stable online play. While the sting of Mortal Kombat X and its downright unplayable net code is fresh, it would be easy to forget the laundry list of fighters with less than stellar net play.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Street Fighter X Tekken, Mortal Kombat 9, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Persona 4 Arena. Each of these games had their own abject failure in regards to online stability Likewise, each developer was hammered by the fans. In many ways, the longevity of a game like Street Fighter IV could in many ways be attributed to the game’s relatively stable online play.
The point being here: Developers and publishers can no longer just tack on an online multiplayer option and hope that any and all issues sort themselves out. Capcom is being proactive this time around, and in many ways their partnership with Sony is most likely the reason.
The announcement that Sony would be assisting Capcom in the development and launch of Street Fighter V was a bit of a shock, but given Capcom’s recent financial issues, not improbable. Sony has every reason to want Capcom to fix any and all issues that may potentially arise, including any potential missteps on release day in regards to online play.
Thus, an online server stress test was born. Players who may be angry need to keep this concept in mind. The beta test isn’t about letting players get ahold of a game early and for free, it is about making sure that the future of Street Fighter V is free from the release day pratfalls of its peers. A stress test of this size in July can mean less problems in 2016 when the game launches worldwide.
I commend Capcom: Many developers as of late have used beta tests as either free publicity or as a form of patting themselves on the back. I think back to the Destiny open beta, which more or less felt like the final product and how that taste had hyped fans up for what would inevitably be a brutal fall.
I think Sony and Capcom realize that there will be plenty of time for self-congratulating once Street Fighter V is released. If Street Fighter IV’s success is any indication, we can expect the next Capcom fighter to have a long and healthy shelf life.
Tonight, like many others, I will gather at the plasma and glass hearth, controller and heart in hand. However, do not fret if you too must succumb to the “Press Any Button” final boss.
This failure is all according to plan.
[UPDATE AT 12:36 P.M.] – Servers have continued to be down, and Capcom has issued the following statement via their Street Fighter Facebook page:
Will Harrison is a gaming journalist that covers the industry for the Toledo Blade, a daily newspaper in Toledo, Ohio. Follow him on Twitter @DoubleUHarrison.