Street Fighter IV and the Casual Gaming Privy of Gold

Like remy77077 I’m very excited by the news and videos that are appearing around the production of Street Fighter 4. But this has been covered more eloquently by remy77077 than I could and since he’s the Street Fighter series guru around here (in this case meaning “slavering fundamentalist and twitch-demon from hell” (in this case meaning he kicked my ass in about 3 seconds last time we sparred in SF2)) there’s not much I could add to his insights into this game at this stage.

Except of course for a couple of off-hand comments that I’m seeing as a worrying trend in more and more games. All of these comments revolving around the term “Casual Gaming.” Which in itself is a harmless, great big, warm and fluffy market of gamers who like to dip into a game for a while and leave it at that. Which isn’t a problem, except for the fact that the population of said market is HUGE! Also known as the “Long-tail” in marketing terms, this is where the money is at and therefore is where all the game studios and publishers want to be. …understandably. The problem for us “Non-casual” gamers is that we get a market full of harmless, warm and fluffy games.

Take any MMO that has appeared in the last year. All of them have taken on the idea of consensual PvP or instanced PvP. Which has ruled out every one of them for me and for a lot of gamers like me who want the chance to lie in wait for an unsuspecting victim to ambush, rob blind and then squat up and down suggestively on their dead corpses. Or alternatively get revenge on somebody who had already subjected me to that treatment (one of the best experiences in gaming that I have come across!)

This is not limited to PvP. Nearly all forms of competition are removed from such “casual” games. A large part of competition is the ability to gain something when you win, or to be punished if you lose. Just knowing that I won or lost isn’t enough to forge that emotional connection with a gaming experience. I want to have a reason to win or to not lose!

So the jury is still out for me on what SF4 is going to bring. The fact that they already have started mentioning that it will appeal to the “casual” gamer has filled me with dread and makes me want to go dragon-punch all those house-wives sat at home playing Sims, thereby shafting any fantastic game concepts and resigning them to a fate of warm, steaming fluffiness.

A Privy.. Not made of gold

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