With all the commotion surrounding Street Fighter 5 season 2 patch notes not being released, I figured once Capcom released them people would read the patch notes and get to work on their main or mains. Instead something interesting happened. A roar of complaints happened. It was like watching the first few minutes of PS I Love You when Hilary Swank’s character shoots off a myriad of complaints.
Before we talk about this patch note blow up, I gotta do some explaining about the internet and the evolution of video game discussions.
Discussing Video Games in Web 1.0
Discussing video games was common on discussion boards on the internet. Forums about fighting games are typically filled with discussion threads about character guides, character match up experience, and ideal characters, stages, or moves people would love to see in certain games. That’s one of the things that strengthen many gaming communities. You’re pretty much putting your opinions and feelings out there with other people who share your interest. Where these discussions turned a little sour was the second coming of the internet a.k.a web 2.0.
Web 2.0 is when sites like Myspace started popping up. Social media was but a baby then, but it gave people something that forums before didn’t. Validation for having a more popular opinion. When discussions before were liked based on their productivity, discussions on social media were liked based on their popularity.
From there we saw the birth of Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc. Social media 2.0 also birthed the always on phenomena which acts as a motivator to maintain one’s social status. With so many people always on the internet, it only makes sense that companies would want a sweet piece of that prime marketing real estate.
Web 2.0 and the Company and Consumer Relationship
When it became obvious people on average were spending more time on social media than reading news papers, watching TV, or listening to the radio, companies big and small wanted in. Companies created social media accounts in an attempt to reach their audience. The always on landscape seemed to work in their favor and birthed a series of online contest and other feel good opportunities to make people feel like their company of choice cared about them. As you can probably guess this was huge for gaming companies as well.
From Nintendo to NetherRealm Studios, gaming related companies created social media sites and established many ways to connect with their audience. From #Throwback references to games in the 90s to acknowledging fan art, gamers finally had a connection with the companies that made their childhood so awesome.
With that connection though also came…you know…wanting to be popular and maintain a popular opinion. This often meant amplifying any and everything a company did or didn’t do. Which brings me to the recent Street Fighter 5 patch note…drama? Anyway, before I go in, let me explain patch notes to the casual audience first.
The Contents of Patch Notes
A lot of games nowadays get patch notes. Game developers will often release a brand new game with a patch because…I don’t even know. I missed the good ol’ days when the game you got was the complete game. Anyway, this happens a lot now because it’s easier to add more content and fix a few bugs along the way. Fighting games even get patch notes, but they are taken a little bit differently.
In fighting games, patch notes usually include fixing problems with the game and the characters. Often times, the character either get nerfed or buffed. A nerf is a change to a character in general or certain moves of a character which render the character or a move less powerful. A nerf can affect a character either very drastically or barely. A buff, like a nerf, is a change to a character but a buff usually improves a character or a character’s move. Buffs can either drastically improve a character or character’s move or barely.
Typically nerfs or buffs are a luck of the draw for players because we don’t know how the developers will adjust the characters. For example, in Street Fighter 5 my character Urien got a health buff. I didn’t see where Urien needed it but at the same time…meh. Unlike Urien, there are characters like FANG, Mika, Nash, and Alex who got nerfed to the ground on paper. With the content of patch notes out of the way, lets look into the flip outs over patch notes.
my thoughts on the patch notes pic.twitter.com/9PvdyYapfq
— Dreamin_ (@DreaminErryDay) December 20, 2016
Muh Patch Notes
Applying everything I mentioned before, we can look at situations like the recent, and currently ongoing, Street Fighter 5 patch note whines and other applicable situations. Remember what I said about web 2.0? It provided the opportunity to be praised for having the most popular opinion while also being able to maintain and grow one’s online social status. The SFV patch notes situation bred the perfect opportunity for the gifts of web 2.0.
Since Street Fighter V’s release, it has gotten a ton of criticism. Warranted criticism includes poor net code, a lack of story mode, and the lack of an arcade mode. Since June Capcom has been trying to improve on these things. There is a story mode, there is a versus cpu mode, and the net code…nevermind net code still kinda sucks. Anyway, the fact of the matter is Capcom has acknowledged their issues and have been trying to fix them. But the fact that these problems exist at all created a breeding ground for the popular opinion to hate Capcom.
Hating Capcom became an opportunity to gain likes and approval for partaking in outrage. Outrage on social media is the best way to become popular for having a popular opinion. The internet lacks context so anything that gives context to a situation is usually taken as how to react. This is especially true if you have a big following on social media. At this point you’re seen as a thought leader and anything you say will have weight. A perfect example of this is how the demand for Street Fighter 5 patch notes came about.
Everyone complaining about no patch notes before tomorrow! GOOD FOR YOU GUYS! HOW ABOUT YOU WAIT TIL THE GAMES COME OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ^_^
— Justin Wong (@JWonggg) December 19, 2016
Per rules of social media outrage, there were already people demanding season 2 patch notes the day before the SFV season 2 patch. However, only when a thought leader mentions it and provides context is when an outrage can truly begin. EG| Justin Wong tweeted the above about people complaining about a lack of patch notes. PR Balrog disagreed with Justin and then poof! It all started.
@JWonggg I agree with you in a lot of things but this?…. NAH
They want to be an eSports game? Then they should release patch notes
— Eduardo Perez (@PR_Balrog) December 19, 2016
The ensuing outrage went from a simple disagreement between 2 people and turned into “Capcom is always fucking up!”. It went from talk about wanting patch notes to criticizing Capcom’s PR, comparing it to Blizzard and Riot, and frustration about the season 2 pass. From there it only got worse as then it became a fight between the “Now Generation” and “Old Era”.
@JWonggg Old School era is best era. Too many people want shit immediately. The “Now Generation” needs anything and everything right away…
— Nick T (@S13Hiryu) December 19, 2016
So for a little while there was this entire back and forth about what is supposed to be expected of Capcom and why the “Now Generation” and the “Old School Era” are right. If you haven’t realized my condescending tone by now, yes, I thought this was the most awkward outrage between adults. At the same time it’s also kinda funny because once patch notes were released, the “Now Generation” were the same people complaining about character changes. A common complaint was about the season 1 DLC character Alex being nerfed.
Alex set play vs 3F wake-up. Still seems like Alex to me! 😛 pic.twitter.com/EYDw2KBgoC
— Wave ~ AutoMattock (@AutoMattock) December 24, 2016
Given the sense of entitlement social media leads many users to have, there is very little Capcom could have actually done in this situation. It’s a classic damned if you do damned if you don’t scenario. While there were twitter users who claimed a lack of communication was the result of their anger, it’s difficult to find evidence to support a lack of communication. Everyone received the same information regarding season 2. Perhaps these individuals wanted constant reassurance from Capcom daily until the season 2 update.
The always on landscape of social media may mean that Capcom has to have constant social media interaction with their audience. While the same twitter users who claim to want Capcom to improve lack actionable solutions, pacifying the users may curb some of the aggression. However, Capcom does have to remember that because they messed up at the beginning people will never let it go. It’s interesting in a way though. Because so many of these users will talk down about the r/kappa sub reddit for being toxic yet they will engage in the same behavior on twitter and perceive their actions as “being critical” or “acknowledging Capcom has flaws.”
I look forward to seeing more of these blow ups. Being that it’s Capcom, I can imagine 2017 will provide many Capcom motivated whines and complaints.