Trying to rate a fighting game character’s strengths and weaknesses is mostly subjective and will change depending on who you ask, but there’s still generally some consensus through its discussion.
Inside-Games recently spoke to Street Fighter 6 Director Takayuki Nakayama and Producer Shuhei Matsumoto at length on a number of topics, including tier lists and how the developers feel about their characters internally.
After talking about how players were initially struggling against E. Honda and JP yet believed they were not too extreme, Nakayama goes on to talk more about how they view their characters and their power levels.
Simply put, the Director relates how the developers often have very different thoughts on how over or under-powered a fighter is internally compared to hardcore players.
Director Nakayama: “I love watching the tier lists that players put out. Those are totally different from our thoughts internally. Even with Street Fighter 5, our views never aligned with the players even at the end.
Most people seemed to consider Luke the strongest, but on our development team what if I told you that we actually thought that Alex was at the top? We don’t talk about this stuff because then it comes off as an ‘official statement’, but it’s interesting.”
That was quite the interesting comparison to make considering Alex was consistently listed among the worst characters in SF5 by pro players until basically the last season of the game.
Even in our final tier list for Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition, we ranked Alex 26th out of 45 characters, so we still felt he was pretty much mid-tier while the dev team felt he was much stronger than what we were seeing.
Though the example of Alex may be a bit of a shocker, this whole sentiment is a bit less surprising for a number of reasons.
For one, the developers are not among the strongest players in the world competing in the game on a daily / weekly basis, and therefore aren’t always going to see things in the same way as them.
Their experience is likely greater than the average player overall, but they aren’t going to be hit and challenged the same way personally.
They also have all pertinent data on their side to help back up their conclusions with statistics.
The devs can always see which characters are winning the most, what they’re winning with, and on the flip side, what players are losing to.
It’s a pretty simple explanation as to why Cammy was still receiving buffs in SF5 despite her continuing to win or top majors, but overall, she had one of the worst win rates online among everybody.
Trying to balance a fighting game is a delicate line that I am not envious of where the developers need to take into account top-player feedback / results, the hard data, and their own internal testing to reach a point where everyone can have a good time.
They aren’t always going to get this balance “right,” but there’s methods to try and make it so.
Hopefully, Capcom and the players remain content with Street Fighter 6’s balance considering they stated their plan is to give the game a larger balance update once a year.
Though they apparently aren’t holding back from making adjustments as they see fit since they’re adding a new method to perform Drive Rushes when Rashid arrives in just a few days on July 24.
Translations for this article were provided by our own Nicholas ‘MajinTenshinhan’ Taylor.