Capcom’s new licensing rules are a victory for community advocates and an important lesson for the future

There was an update on the ongoing debate over Capcom eSports licensing, one that seems to close the book on the subject as community event owners and attendees are in a more favorable position than they were in March.

An official post published on Capcom USA’s website detailed revisions to the original rules, along with an explanation of why those changes were made and a short series of quick fixes on specific sticking points that were a source of frustration . All in all, it seems like the vast majority of the big issues have at least been mitigated, which in turn gives smaller events like your typical regional monthly tournament or weekly boozy bar gaming session more breathing room.

A selection of important changes have also been detailed in the article, which we’ve included below:

  • Increased prize pool limit from $2,000 to $10,000 per event
  • The annual prize pool limit of $10,000 has been removed
  • Sponsorship limit increased from $5,000 to $6,000 per event
  • Sponsorship limit increased from $20,000 to $30,000 per year
  • Changed Viewer Fee Limits
  • Changed event restrictions for bars
  • Removed license refunds for video/photo content captured at events

The first thing to notice is the gargantuan shift in prize pool caps, which now allow bi-weekly or monthly high participation events to remain within the community event caps. Sponsorship restrictions are also more lenient, as are roadblocks preventing the hassle of hiring photographers, cameramen or hosting your event in a bar.

Meltdown London is one of many excellent venues that would have struggled under the previous arrangement

Meltdown London is one of many excellent venues that would have struggled under the previous arrangement

The post explains why these changes came about: “We want to thank our passionate fans for the feedback we received after the first version went live. We hear you. It’s incredibly important to us to honor the grassroots heritage of the Street Fighter community. To that end, we’ve updated the Street Fighter V Community License Agreement, incorporating feedback we’ve received from the community, while maintaining our original goal of providing a free license.”

These aren’t quite complete yet, as Capcom will continue to monitor the situation over the coming months. The community response seems to be good overall – apart from those who don’t understand the need for licensing in general, who are confused about the purpose of setting brackets that include your university’s weekly Street Fighter tournament with a free subway as illustrious prize, and massive events like Combo Breaker and VsFighting here in the UK.

Professional photographer Robert Paul is such a grateful community member, who previously claimed they would refuse to work at future Capcom events if the earlier version of the agreement came about (which would allow Capcom to freely use their work). As it stands now, Capcom needs to get in touch and ask permission for photos taken by Robert and others, which is a valuable position for creative work in fighting games. Or just as creative work in any area.

But why does all this matter? It sure is good for tournament organizers and those who want to start their own events in space, but why write an entire article about it? Well, it’s an important lesson for the fighting game community, or any growing grassroots community in the video game space. There’s room to make your voice heard, to demand that certain core values ​​remain intact, and to protect the self-interest of those who have invested time and effort in gaming events that – ultimately – will benefit the publisher anyway .

Shortly after the original agreement broke, I read an article on titled “Tournament Licensing is a Necessary Step to Tame the eSports Wild West”. It’s a compelling argument for the merits of enforcing licensing deals for what he describes as a sort of taming of the lawless lands where gambling and other acts contrary to Capcom’s desired perception took place while the Street Fighter 5 menu music played in the drone background.

That is correct to a certain extent. There will come a time when an event needs to put on a fancy shirt and tie and enter the professional world. Evo, the fighting game communities biggest event (with roots as Battle by the Bay in 1996), hasn’t been grassroots in over a decade. It’s been debauchery like straight-forward gambling on the show floor alongside what was considered “thugism” for an improved relationship with those publishers, and has in turn evolved into a fighting game Christmas of sorts.

The Evo 2017 commentary booth with Sajam and James Chen

Gear up on Evo these days and you’ll see sleek fits on some of the best in the business.

While the removal of more adult themes and behaviors goes hand-in-hand with increased sponsorship and publisher involvement, the dangers of letting corporations take the helm and set the direction of a scene are dangerous. The aforementioned racquet rules were met with derision and raised eyebrows in its day, especially as these “racquets” were a match for the very tournaments that Capcom used for its Pro Tour events.

What some see as a brawl may be interpreted by others as community culture, and washing it all away in hopes of achieving a pristine League of Legends-style money generator is all well and good… until you consider what else might be lost in the process . Is Capcom a giant evil corporation that wants to run fighting games? Obviously not. But it’s a huge company, which means it can often be blind to some aspects of the community that has stalled its games in its quest for growth.

Take another recent example here in sunny old England. Back in April, Capcom had planned not to feature commentators from the UK and Ireland at Capcom Pro Tour events – including UK and Ireland events. A trifle for some, but a massive indicator of the lack of consideration for the base. A multitude of British commentators have been passionate about UK Street Fighter for years and have been quietly replaced by others more suited to corporate interests who are likely to feel they are a better fit for the event. This, in turn, was met with passionate responses from the community and Support was poured out on those affected. When the UK & Ireland Capcom Pro Tour event was held we had British boy Jammerz in the top 8 comments. Was that the result of a tantrum? Do we throw toys out of prams when we expect British voices to present games played at UK events?

WSO Logan on the Street Fighter 5 commentary

Logan (right) was one such commentator who was swept aside

It’s so important that we continue to use our influence in businesses to uphold aspects of the communities we belong to, otherwise our losses could carve away fatter chunks of scenes that have survived decades. The Open Bracket – where players who train hard enough have the opportunity to battle some of the world’s best on the tournament floor – is a mainstay of the community. But one could argue from the publisher’s point of view that it takes time away from the pro matches, which is what fans really want to see. Let’s just scrap it in favor of E-League of Red Bull Kumite events.

Or what about streaming matches from tournament pools where unknown players compete in front of an audience of viewers over the internet? Or why do our big tournaments take place at multi-game events at all? We want people to focus on our game, so how about we just isolate it from everything else. Oh, we don’t want our players to be known for playing our competitors’ games! Let’s implement a Riot Games 2013 style exclusivity clause. All of this could be argued for the pursuit of growth for the publisher, yet all of this would do immense harm to these global communities.

Cowboys still have an impact on this area. Fighting games are still in a transitional phase – on the way to the squeaky clean esports environment that will inevitably happen – but while some power rests in the hands of community members, it’s crucial that you make your voice heard, before the community that the basis for this growth is buried underneath. Capcom’s new licensing rules are a victory for community advocates and an important lesson for the future

Fry Electronics Team

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