On February 28, Capcom announced a new set of guidelines for its Community License Agreement. While the intent seemed to be to make it easier for small-to-medium-sized community events to officially run Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, the result was quite the opposite. Going over these new guidelines, Capcom seems to have made an ultimatum for any events running its flagship game. That being our way or the highway. We will go over these changes below, as well as what local level tournament organizers have had to say about the changes.
First, we will go over the positives of these changes, as there is really only one. By agreeing to Capcom’s terms, all events now have an official outlet to legally run Street Fighter tournaments approved by Capcom. That’s good, but this is clearly a Faustian bargain, as the negatives greatly restrict and limit what tournament organizers can do. All events will now have a cap for the amount of their prize pools. Any event giving out over $10,000 in prizes a year must apply for a license to do so. While that might sound like a lot, the amount breaks down to $200 a week for weekly events. Considering the typical percentage breakdown for the top three players at any given local is typically 60/30/20, players are limited to $120, $60, and $20 for first, second, and third place respectively.
Now, most weekly events probably won’t hit that number every week. But most tournament circuits have larger events that take place a few times a year, or even larger regional events. This basically means that tournament circuits can run weekly events and no regionals, or the opposite. There isn’t enough wiggle room to do both in a way that makes it worth it for the players involved.
One other thing that isn’t brought up in these guidelines are things like Matcherino. This is an online service that lets players donate to events they watch and offer direct support. Bigger weekly events like NLBC rely heavily on services like Matcherino, and possibly cutting them out is a huge blow to these events.
How would this even work?
Next, Capcom states in the new Community License Agreement that spectators for events that host Street Fighter can get in for free. Sure, that sounds great on paper, but it opens up a whole new can of worms. What about larger events that take place in conventions? Or LAN and gaming centers, for that matter? Are they not allowed to make money for people using their venue space now? Also, what about events that run multiple games? There is no way to reasonably enforce this rule, and can only make me think that it was not thought through at all.
Money that can be received from sponsors is also limited to $5,000 per event and $20,000 per year. For those who don’t know, getting the capital together for a large event is a massive undertaking. Between securing a physical space, contracts, and insurance, even a regional-sized event can easily cross this margin. Capcom is making it so that running Street Fighter could mean that events can’t play their bills.
Digging deeper, we can also see that events cannot be associated with certain things in any way. Gambling and alcohol are specifically mentioned. Many tournaments are held in arcade bars and breweries, which, under these guidelines, would no longer be possible. Plus, there’s, you know, EVO, which takes place in… Las Vegas. Will the new rules make it so EVO can’t run Street Fighter now?
Not a great start for Street Fighter 6
Then, last but certainly not least, and perhaps the most telling of all, is the amount of control given to Capcom. The company has complete control over all images coming from these events. This includes, but is not limited to, pictures, video, and most importantly, live streams. And the latter can subsequently be taken down or removed at any time upon Capcom’s request. An explanation is not required by Capcom to do so, either.
All of this has been, to put it very mildly, not taken well by the community. I was able to speak with some local-level tournament organizers (TOs), one of whom helped clarify some of the aforementioned information. All TOs I’ve spoken with have decided to stop running Street Fighter V due to Capcom’s new changes. Alex Jebailey, who runs CEO, went on Twitter to decry the loss of one of Orlando’s longest-running local events. At least for Street Fighter, that is.
“Welp my professional career as a local SFV player has come to an end for now without an offline community tournament in Orlando to support and compete in,” Jebailey wrote.
Here comes a new challenger
And that is another factor that Capcom doesn’t seem to have considered. The fighting game scene isn’t what it used to be, and Street Fighter isn’t the only game in town anymore. There is a long list full of great fighting games vying for people’s attention and dollars. If people don’t have a place to go to play Street Fighter, then they will go play The King of Fighters XV or Guilty Gear Strive or any number of other games available. Many of which have far better netcode, I might add. These guidelines seem to have been written without the fighting game community, or its grassroots legacy, in mind. I can’t imagine how it could have been.
These new guidelines are so blatantly anti-community and against small and mid-tier tournament organizers. This can only lead to many tournament organizers simply no longer holding events for Street Fighter. There is some hope though, as earlier today Capcom followed up with an announcement regarding the new Community License Agreement. The company stated that it’s “reviewing the feedback” from the guidelines. Hopefully, that means altering it heavily or throwing it all in the bin. With a brand new game on the horizon, the last thing Capcom should do is alienate the community.
Note: All dollar amounts are in USD.