When fighting game communities began to spring up in the ’90s with games like Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat, the excitement and fun of playing these games were found in the journey of your own improvement. Kids would try to improve at these games in order to be better than their friends, and then better than everyone at the local arcade, and then eventually aim to better than everyone at tournaments. However, with the prevalence of online gaming and the changing interests of the gaming market, fighting games have lost some of their cultural foothold amongst the wider gaming community. For the Director of Street Fighter 6 Takayuki Nakayama, fighting games must move beyond a focus motivated by winning and losing for fighting games to regain popularity with a casual audience.
In an interview with Oricon News translated by Nicholas ‘MajinTenshinhan’ Taylor of EventHubs, Nakayama emphasized the franchise’s need to reduce the barrier to entry in fighting games:
“Instead of a world that’s just about winning and losing, we want to say ‘You can play on your own, there are lots of interesting characters, you can travel in this interesting world too, don’t you want to try it out. That’s kind of what we’re going for… after getting used to that, you can ask them ‘Let’s have a match,’ that’s the type of world we want. The title is Street Fighter ‘6,’ but we want it to be a game that’s easy to get into whichever way you please and serve as an entry point despite the number.”
While the core enjoyment from learning new characters, improving your skills, and challenging your friends will always remain a core part of Street Fighter, it seems this latest entry will emphasize finding ways to offer accessible content and gameplay that can hook in newcomers and casual gamers who don’t yet desire the dedication commonly associated with fighting games. Nakayama states that while he “personally loves fighting games,” for Street Fighter 6 to leave a lasting cultural impact there’s a need to “make sure it’s a game that’s easy to recommend to others.”
This new approach may frighten hardcore fighting game players who fear greater accessibility could mean lower skill ceilings and less advanced mechanics, but with Nakayama’s desire to appeal to both crowds Street Fighter 6 could be the fresh start the franchise needs to hook in gamers of all backgrounds.