Accessibility in fighting games
Recently I keep seeing the topic of accessibility come up within the fighting game community. Players who are hardcore invested in the scene being turned off by the idea of simple mode control schemes, short cut input controls such as Street Fighter 4's, and lowering the threshold for things like teching throws.
Personally it seems like both a step in the right and the wrong direction. Yes fighting game developers definitely want to find ways to make their games which require a real degree of execution skill to be approachable and fun to newer and more casual players, but perhaps they are going at it the wrong way. I feel strongly that developers should always try to succeed in the best of both worlds. Marvel vs Capcom 3 includes a simple control scheme, but at the expense of being able to do everything someone using standard controls will have access to. I would have taken it a step further to just include an online mode specifically for simple control only match making and normal mode only.
A lot of us gamers do not want to see our games dumbed down to appeal for a new generation who just wants automatic rewards. The best example I could give is what if a game so skill, thought, and execution based as Starcraft 2 all of the sudden did build orders for you and all you had to worry about was moving units around. This would not only make the game a shell of its former self, but it would drastically cut into what makes the game so fun in the first place at a competitive level. To know you out played, out thought, and out executed your opponent is such a rewarding feeling and is the equal to winning say a Super Bowl in the NFL or a fighting heavy weight title in boxing.
Would boxing really be boxing anymore if one guy had simple mode "padded" armor on, or was allowed 5 free hits at the start of each round? When you think of it this way you see why this is such a no-no in the eyes of gamers who stick with fighting games throughout years. At the same time though we know we can't get fighting games if the developers can't make money from making them to merit sequels. It's a fine line they have to tread.
I'd also like to add there's more way to appeal to a casual gamer than simply letting them do easy mode combos or special moves. A lot of players now love seeing rewards in some form for their time spent with a game. Things like emblems, avatar pictures, titles, etc. Casual players are also more likely to trade a game in or stop playing it if the online component has issues, where the hardcore will complain but will ride it out. If more fighters could really fine tune net codes while making that carrot at the end of the stick really far out of reach with shiny unlocks then that'd help boost the games appeal in their minds. Couple that together with the idea of the simple mode controls having their own match making and we could maybe see a harmony of both hardcore and casual fighters really enjoying the same game with just a slight tweak in skill.
At the end of the day a game has to be fun to be enjoyed by gamers and hopefully developers won't sacrifice the hardcore gamers fun from skill for a few more sales from guys who won't stick with the game for even one-fifth of what the hardcore guy will.
Sound off on what you think in the comments below. Is there a way to come to a good co-existence? What is it and why ?