When you really step back and think about it, Street Fighter is really one of the first ever games as a service. Sure, in the 90s it meant a different thing – but few games ‘lived’ for as long as Street Fighter titles did, receiving updates that’d deliver new moves, new characters, balance changes, and even entirely new gameplay mechanics.
Back in those days you had to buy a new cart, or wait for a new board to be dropped into your local arcade cabinet. In many ways, Capcom was ahead of the game – as now every competitive title going has its life extended through a gentle drip feed of additional content. Street Fighter hasn’t so much moved into this space as simply adjusted the cadence of what it was already doing to fit the trends.
So with Street Fighter 6, characters aren’t delivered with one big update, but will drop one-by-one throughout the year. Rashid arrives first, later this month. And in one area, SF6 lifts from the current trends more directly – the Battle Pass.
You all know the concept of this now, and unlikely need me to explain it. The Battle Pass is exactly as you’d expect; divided into free and premium tiers, with a range of rewards available for each pass. Playing SF6 rewards you with experience points that pour into the pass and unlock neat extras.
These extras consist mostly of basic customization stuff. That includes items for your avatar character to wear in Battle Hub, World Tour, and Avatar Battles, Titles, Backgrounds, and Poses for use on your profile, and bonus stickers and frames usable in SF6’s photo mode.
It’s all relatively inconsequential stuff, which I actually think is fine. Each Battle Pass is an optional purchase for the most hardcore, never containing anything earth-shattering – but the freebies everyone can pick up are decent enough. The pass is quite generous in how it can be earned, too: it’s available in pretty much all modes, which means even online matches against friends or the CPU contributes to your pass completion. Even playing a few matches a day casually, so far you can easily knock out full completion of a pass inside a week.
There are a couple more Battle Pass rewards that are more substantive, though. Later levels of the Premium Tier reward you with Fighter Coins, the currency that can be used to purchase some of SF6’s more substantive DLC, like character costumes and colors. Each Premium Pass so far contains a classic Capcom game you can boot and play through SF6’s menus. And then… there’s the music.
The music, dear reader, is what this article is about. Included in the two battle passes so far are unlocks of classic Street Fighter music. The first pass offered a couple of Street Fighter 2 tunes; the second serves up unlocks of some character themes from Street Fighter 5 to welcome Rashid, who of course hails from that game. But this music… is kind of useless?
Ultimately, the music is designed to be played through a sort of MP3 Player Jukebox within SF6’s menus – but isn’t actually compatible with the game itself. And this feels like a huge missed opportunity.
Street Fighter 6’s soundtrack is great. It’s brave and different in how it does away with the classic character themes of the past and gives even classic heroes new themes to represent their changing lives. But that presents Capcom with a tremendous opportunity. I love the new themes – but I’d love to have the old in the mix, too.
The game is already set up for this; you can choose in the menus which themes you’d like to hear on which stages; stage themes, character themes, and so on. More choice (or more options for random select) would be a good thing. It’s absurd to me, for instance, that the first Battle Pass featured music unlocks for the classic SF2 themes of Dee Jay, Cammy, and T. Hawk – but they can’t be selected to play when fighting those characters. Yes, ol’ Hawk isn’t in the game, but his protege, Lily, is. She could inherit his theme.
Right now, the music unlocks in Battle Pass – which it should be noted are Premium Tier exclusives – are useless to me. I’m never going to go into the menus to listen to these tracks. Especially not when Capcom is pretty great about soundtrack availability on Spotify anyway. These unlocks are pointless. Make them playable in-battle, however… and they become a big deal.
Hopefully this is the plan. But, to be honest, I worry. Street Fighter 5 offered a single piece of music DLC – an unlock of classic tracks from Street Fighter 2 for battle – and then never followed up with any music from subsequent games. When Arcade Edition added a proper Arcade Mode, complete with some really special remixes of the themes from the older games, the massive open goal of allowing these themes to be used in other modes was simply ignored. The music, honestly, felt like it was an afterthought.
Anyway. If Capcom wants me to buy these Premium Battle Passes, it needs to make sure the offering is good. A lot of fans are begging for actual character costumes to be included in these passes rather than avatar gear. And while I get it, I also absolutely see why Capcom won’t necessarily do that. Costumes are an absolute cash cow for these games. But I don’t see why one of the most unique of the cosmetic unlocks is thus far so useless – the music unlocks should be better utilized. Thoughtful changes like this on Capcom’s part will get me to open my wallet.