Why Street Fighter 5 never felt as fun as it could have

With the release of Street Fighter 6 just a few months away, Street Fighter 5 is enjoying its final days in the spotlight. It was a polarizing game that prompted many players to leave the franchise (at least temporarily), but it also has a lot to offer. It has retained a relatively strong active player base, sold a respectable 7 million copies, and is probably the most balanced Street Fighter game to date.

It’s safe to say that the game must be doing – something – right if it’s been able to produce such compelling moments and stories over the years, but to be honest, despite all its wins and the fact that it’s that Saying has such a relatively good balance, but it’s still not as fun as it could have been, thanks to a particular thorn in his side.

If I had to try to categorize said spike, I’d say it’s an imbalance between risk and reward that places the game right on the cusp of what fans would expect from a Street Fighter entry.

The balance between risk and reward is a common thread that runs through almost every level of every competition. Too little risk and the reward becomes less important and so we get bored. Too much risk and the reward feels unattainable or incredibly difficult and we either become hopeless or frustrated. However, a well-calibrated risk vs. reward approach creates an intriguing sense of potential satisfaction.

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You can think of it like a guitar string that needs the appropriate tension on both sides to produce a satisfying sound when plucked or strummed. I’ll add here that I’m not talking about a reward in the form of a prize pool for winning a tournament or recognition from peers, but about the sense of victory inherent in the game (i.e. winning a round, winning an interaction, points score a shot, etc.).

Another important part of this puzzle is fan expectation. Street Fighter has been around for over 35 years now, and of course a specific formula for what Street Fighter is has emerged. Capcom is evolving this every time they release a new franchise entry, but if they stray too far from it too quickly, fans won’t recognize your game as a “Street Fighter” anymore.

With that in mind, those who remember the Street Fighter 4 era will recall how much backlash Capcom got for that game’s select-fuel fuss option, which essentially resulted in you as soon as certain characters you probably didn’t get another chance to hit them as they would be able to stay on top of you and repeatedly knock you down until your life bar is empty.

What exactly did Street Fighter 5 get wrong in terms of risk versus reward? I think it has to do with a combination of the way soles flow and thanks in no small part to the action of V-Trigger. Some of the issues were addressed head-on, but some of them remain to this day. Check out the full video below and please like, subscribe and comment on our YouTube channel if you like what you see.

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Time stamp:
00:00 – Introduction
01:21 – The crucial importance of risk vs. reward
02:14 – Fan expectations
04:08 – Street Fighter 5 booties at launch
06:04 – The impact of V-triggers on overall risk vs. reward
07:51 – The impact of V-triggers on booties
09:39 – Closing