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April 10, 2012

Capcom and the Art of “Why Would You?”

…And the war on Capcom continues.  Their defense?  Again, from EventHubs:

“While Capcom did not advertise this feature with respect to the Xbox 360 version, it understands that some fans may have believed this mode to be available across all platforms. Unfortunately, due to time and resource constraints, Capcom was not able to include that feature in the XBox 360 version and it apologizes to those players who were looking forward to it. Because of the scale required to implement this feature, Capcom has decided that it will not do so, and will not be providing a patch for this feature.

Further, while none of the packaging or other advertising collateral for the Xbox 360 version of the Game advertised the ''4-player co-op mode,'' Capcom has discovered that the game manual included in the SFxT Special Edition package inadvertently references that feature. (We note that the manual is not available for customers' pre-purchase review, so do not believe that the manual could have influenced any purchasing decision.)”

Sigh.  I’m not mad, Capcom.  Just disappointed.

I'm also capable of distorting my face like Silly Putty.

I will admit that, in retrospect, Capcom was strangely silent about the local co-op.  I know, because I was hoping that my brother and I could play King and Marduk online, and right after Capcom (however unclearly or indirectly) suggested it, news went quiet.  But that just raises a huge question: Capcom, why would you even begin to insinuate that local play was possible, yet only deliver on one of the only two consoles that can play the game?  Why would you use such obscure terms and definitions in the first place?  Why would you wait until the day of release until admitting to anyone that it wasn't possible to play local co-op on 360 when you know that thousands of people are going to figure it out seconds after loading the game?  Why would you let manuals advertise otherwise?  Why would you decide NOT to include that feature?  Why would you let Mortal Kombat -- your vastly inferior rival since the nineties -- show you up on what should have been a simple matter?

Man.  Remember the good old days when common sense was a part of the game industry? 

But like I said, I’m not mad.  Disappointed, yes.  Irritated, yes.  But not mad.  Like a lot of people, I’ve got issues with Street Fighter X Tekken.  I’ve barely learned how to be competent in Marvel 3, and now suddenly I have to learn a whole new game and form entirely new teams with vastly different mechanics.  I hate how an opponent can keep you paralyzed just by moving forward and jabbing, and if you so much as move you can lose up to 50% of your health.  I hate the fact that Raven -- a character I never, ever considered a threat in Tekken -- can throttle me so readily, while Paul is considered to be awful in spite of being one of Tekken’s canonically strongest fighters.  (Also, because Raven’s a ninja, and you know how I feel about them.)

Blah blah blah mission blah blah skills blah blah target blaaaaaaaaaaaah.

But I still like the game.  Even if other players aren’t experimenting with characters, I will; I like learning Heihachi combos, and it feels like I understand the game a bit more each time I hit the combo lab.  Julia’s one of my favorite characters, and blowing ninjas apart with some well-placed moves is a pleasure.  Akuma’s remixed theme is godlike.

I wish that a lot of things had gone differently with this game -- with Capcom’s decisions in general.  While they may be incompetent, selfish idiots in the eyes of many, in a way I think we can learn a lesson from them: the awesome power of “Why would you?”

Gamers, writers, jackhammer specialist, whatever your walk in life may be, there’s one question that’s been internalized deeply by now: “Why would you?”  You’ve asked someone that, or you’ve been asked yourself, particularly in the face of something that seemed like a good idea at the time.  I think that “Why would you?” has the potential to become the great underlying force of our universal zeitgeist for ages to come: if you cannot provide a good reason why you do what you do, then you shouldn’t do it.

Capcom gave (suspect) answers in the face of all its criticisms.  If they had only anticipated someone asking “why would you?” in the first place, maybe they would have thought, “Hey, maybe this isn’t such a good idea.  Maybe people will get mad if we try to do this.”  And then we wouldn’t be here today, where hating Capcom is as commonplace as drawing breath.

The logo redesign, effective immediately.

Can you imagine how many problems would be solved if there was a bit more foresight?  Gears of War 3, for example, was memorable to me based solely on how miserable it left me.  I’d like to think that the people behind it assumed there was no chance for failure; if only they had realized people would ask “Why would you?” well before they saw the end credits.  Why would you kill off the only likeable character in the story?  Why would you load up every moment of conversation with brutally awful snark and sarcasm?  Why would you try to slip in characters from the Expanded Universe and pass them off as characters we gamers have known (or were supposed to know) since the series’ start?  Why would you make a game already stuffed to capacity with explosions with MORE explosions?  I know the Gears series isn’t trying to be fine art, but shouldn’t the last game in a trilogy be a refinement and culmination of everything you’ve learned instead of a blast-laden caricature?

Great, now I'm gonna have to talk about this game, too...

Yeah, people are going to make mistakes.  People are going to have varying opinions.  But I still wager that problems can be avoided if creators be wary of those three little words.  If they live in fear of “Why would you?” and the shame/dishonor they can bring, then creators will be more likely to take measures to sidestep that.  Nobody likes looking like an idiot.

Except maybe this guy.

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