In this five-part series, we’ll go back to five of the oldest games that birthed esports, play them, and examine their relevance in esports today.
Street Fighter made its debut in arcades, in 1987. In this game, the player takes control of martial artist Ryu, who competes in a worldwide martial arts tournament, spanning five countries and 10 opponents. A second player can join in at any time and take control of Ryu’s American rival, Ken.
Street Fighter II was released in 1991 and introduced the concept of character selection. The choice of multiple available characters allowed for more varied matches because each player character had a unique fighting style with approximately 30 or more moves, including then-new grappling moves and throws, as well as two or three special attacks per character. Street Fighter II eclipsed its predecessor in popularity, eventually turning Street Fighter into a multimedia franchise. The release of the game had a large impact on gaming, beginning a massive phenomenon. By 1993, sales of Street Fighter II exceeded $1.5 billion in revenue. In addition, the video game console ports sold more than 14 million copies for both Nintendo and Sega gaming systems.
Over the years, Capcom has released more Street Fighter games, with the most recent release being Street Fighter V on all modern platforms in early February of 2016, receiving praise for its graphics and gameplay but criticism for its elimination of the single player component of the game.
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The series’ competitive scene was responsible for popularizing the concept of direct, tournament-level competition between two players. With Street Fighter II, players could challenge each other directly, “face-to-face,” to determine the best player, paving the way for the competitive multiplayer and deathmatch modes found in modern action games. Additionally, the game was an inspiration for the concept of “patches” and, eventually, DLC and in-game micro-transactions with the new concept of providing consistent updates and new material months and even years after its release. Over time, the game launched several tournaments, such as EVO. The newest release, V, broke the Evolution Championship Series’s record for most entrants in a single game with over 3000 registrations in four days.