It’s no secret that Capcom has been nickel & dime-ing us since Street Fighter V began. Season passes are insanely high priced, and there are so many special costume packs and other costumes that are available for real cash money only that this next move shouldn’t have been seen as a surprise at all.
The decision to insert “sponsored content” into Street Fighter V was attached to a recent update that made the game free-to-play for a limited time, allowing folks to try the game without buying it until December 19. These new advertisements, which can be turned off in the options menu, slap the Capcom Pro Tour logo everywhere, from strategic positions on each character’s outfit to the stages in which they fight. Leaving the advertisements turned on will allow players to receive paltry amounts of in-game currency.
Players who leave the feature on have also been treated to static, full-screen advertisements for downloadable content before matches and even when entering training mode, as seen in this video taken from Twitter.
While seeing in-game content advertised during a loading screen isn’t too bad, it’s what has been done to the characters themselves that is the true masterwork of evil here. Capcom has done their absolute best to cover each fighter in gaudy Capcom Pro Tour stickers, making them look more like Nascar vehicles than the individual, iconic characters they are. Guile, for instance, exchanges his traditional American flag tattoo for the tournament decal.
Other characters have had additional costume pieces added to their normal costumes, like Urien here, who now sports a fancy new Capcom Pro Tour championship belt. Which to be honest, doesn’t seem too bad when given that this costume is a nice suit and there are plenty of WWE superstars out there who walk through airports with suits on and their championship belt over their shoulder as carry on. It’s not like Capcom are placing these images on something completely disrespectful… oh…
Yep, poor Dhalsim. For those of you who do not keep up to date with Street Fighter lore; those skulls that Dhalsim keeps around his neck are the skulls of children that he couldn’t save in his home village in India. So the smart folks over at Capcom thought that the best place to place a Capcom Pro Tour logo was right on top of one of those skulls. Cause that’s not disrespectful of the dead at all is it?
Not only have Capcom changed clothing and other things on characters, it seems that even moves in Street Fighter V are getting some Capcom Pro Tour love. In what has been called an homage to Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi posing in front of the projector during the 2010 SoCal Regionals in his match with Clark “ClakeyD” Smith during Akuma’s Shin Shun Goku Satsu (The powered up version of the Raging Demon) animation. Capcom decided that instead of the Kanji for “heaven” that Akuma usually displays at the end of the move, we need to be reminded of… That’s right… The Capcom Pro Tour!
To be fair, this isn’t a new phenomenon, at least when it comes to Street Fighter V’s stages. For the last few years, Capcom has released downloadable content packs that include special arenas that highlight the importance of the Capcom Pro Tour and are typically used during big events. These stages have often been modified to display logos for Evo and Red Bull to correspond with the current competition.
The prevalence of the logos in the latest update does raise new questions about how far Capcom will go to promote brands within the Street Fighter V framework. For now, Dhalsim’s necklace is honouring Capcom, which is strange enough given the context, but it would be even weirder to see a Red Bull logo there, or will they eventually expand to things like Burger King and Jones BBQ and Foot Massage?.
Street Fighter V’s optional advertisements are a product of the times. Many video games are no longer contained experiences that only ask for shelf price and nothing more, and instead are ongoing services that continue to offer bonus content to the player, for a price. Street Fighter V is a full price product, and until now, the game would only milk your wallet when offering you more DLC fighters to buy. In-game ads are prominent mostly in free-to-play games, not in games that you pay for.