An Open Letter To Capcom
Dear Capcom,You make the best fighting games in the world, your games have always been the center of the game night cheers and sparks so many hatred filled feuds. But it's time to make some changes, it is time to embrace free to play and introduce a whole new audience to your games.
Now this isn't to say that Capcom is in true need of reinvention according to sales released by Capcom after the release of Super Street Fighter 4 3D total sales of street fight 4 series were in excess of 6 million units, but in a world where free to play games are gaining popularity faster than any other genre out there it would be wise to be on the front foot and be ahead of Nether Realms (Mortal Kombat) and Namco (Tekken) in releasing a fully realized free to play multi player fighter
There are three big reasons in my opinion for Capcom to make the switch to free to play:
Firstly the Barrier to entry for a free to play game is non existent, in a world where consumers are becoming tighter with their wallets and piracy runs rampant across all platforms, many players would choose the option of a more accessible game than a hardcore fighter or they would simply download it illegally. A free to play option would solve both of these problems, people who would download the game illegally have a better incentive to download the official version and players that would pass your game up before would be more easily persuaded to play. Also with the next gen consoles already confirmed to support free to play your audience could increase dramatically and lets face it, free to play game do draw the numbers league of legends has now over 30 million(as of November 2011) active users and even a niche game like World Of Tanks has an amazing 45 million registered users (as of the end of 2012).
Secondly the increase in profits from games switching to free to play has been seen in numerous situations in early 2011 the MMO Lord of the rings online switched to a free to model and within a few months Turbine the developers behind the game revealed that their profits had increased 300%. How do free to play make money you might ask, well the answer is micro transactions and before you think I’m talking about those pay to win games, I want to point you to one of the best free to play models out there right now League Of Legends. LOL has a system where players must buy individual characters from there in game store but but every 2 weeks places a bunch of character out as free to play. this way players are given the perfect opportunity to play as many characters as they like and when the two weeks are up a new batch are rotated in, this is the perfect combination of generosity and advertising. Players tend to grow familiar with certain characters and when those characters aren't available freely the price to have that character available for life easily seems worth it. In a series with unique fighters that play so differently this model would be a perfect fit.
Finally a free to play model is great for the gamer. The opportunity to play more games and spend less is always a plus in my mind. Also with a free to play game with ever increasing numbers, a lack of players online to play competitively is a non issue and the chance to get more of my friends interested in a genre I love is something I would jump at. A character store is also a great delivery method for new characters to be introduced to the player. Also a free Street Fighter would be a FREE Street fighter game which would be a truly awesome thing.
In conclusion i think a free to play street fighter game would be fresh and great turn for the series i feel you should seriously consider this approach in the future.