Capcom has a long and legendary history in the competitive fighting game scene. Street Fighter II was the true beginning of competitive fighters (sorry, Karate Champ), which then escalated the scene to new heights with the debut of Street Fighter IV in 2008 (Japanese arcades) and 2009 (US console release). In fact, the term "09er" was coined in reference to the large number of competitive players who started their competitive journey with Street Fighter IV.
Since the release of Street Fighter IV, Capcom has updated the title numerous times. This is not new for the company, as we saw both the original Street Fighter II series, and the Street Fighter III series updated several times as well. Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Street Fighter III: Third Strike, the final iterations of those titles, are still played competitively today. However, with each new iteration, the previous version was almost entirely dropped from the tournament scene.
It makes sense that the latest and greatest game in each Street Fighter series would take center stage at tournaments, and that's exactly what we expect to happen with the Street Fighter IV series and Ultra Street Fighter IV (USF4). Super Street Fighter IV replaced the original, Arcade Edition (AE) replaced Super, and Arcade Edition 2012 replaced the original AE.
When Ultra SF4 hits next year, it will almost certainly replace Arcade Edition 2012 at tournaments across the US and the rest of the world. What does that mean for competitive players? To be honest, not much will change. You'll need to update to the new version and make adjustments to your play style based on the changes to your character of choice, and any match-up changes that may have occurred due to changes to the rest of the roster. In addition you'll need to learn the new match-ups presented by the five new characters featured in USF4.
It's a given to expect Ultra Street Fighter IV to be featured at the Evolution Fighting Game Championship in 2014, but there's also a good chance a lot of new players will join the fray, lured in by the updated game and new characters. This past Evolution was the biggest one yet, and with Ultra Street Fighter IV coming out early next year, the numbers for Evo 2014 could set new records.
While the surge from the update to AE 2012 wasn't huge, this new update adds five characters, including one that has never been featured in a Capcom fighting game before. Add to that the fact that fan favorite Rolento is being included (alongside Hugo), and you may see a few Street Fighter III: Third Strike players getting in on the Ultra SF4 action.
Another big aspect of Ultra that could pull in new faces to the competitive scene is the fact that Capcom is taking fan feedback for many of the updates to existing characters. Everyone had something to say about the changes in each and every version of Street Fighter IV thus far. While Capcom certainly listened to fans when making changes to the previous updates, the focus wasn't on fan feedback. This time around, fan feedback takes top priority. The fans won't get everything they want, but Capcom is doing its best to make everyone as happy as possible with the new game.
With a focus on fan feedback, five new characters with one brand new character (to Capcom fighters), and an already strong competitive scene for the series, it looks like Ultra SF4 will remain at the top of the competitive fighting game scene in the US. Could the numbers at Evolution 2014 top those of the 2013 event? We'll have to wait and see, but for now, stay tuned to Prima Games for all of the latest on Ultra Street Fighter IV, and the Street Fighter series in general.