Earlier this month, Capcom bid farewell to competitive Street Fighter 5. It's been an amazing run, one that lasted far longer than some may have expected, but it is now time to move on to what lies ahead. Street Fighter 6 awaits on the horizon, set to release in June and headline its first EVO in August. With such a big few months ahead, we couldn't help but speak with one of the driving forces behind the series' competitive push.
Prior to the Capcom Cup's conclusion and just before the announcement of a $2 million USD prize pool, Shacknews sat down with Street Fighter 6 Brand Manager Jackie Simmons. Between talking about our memories with the series, I made sure to ask about what lies ahead for the next generation of Street Fighter.
Shacknews: Did you expect the Street Fighter 5 generation to last as long as it did?
Jackie Simmons, Street Fighter 6 Brand Manager: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Last year we celebrated the 35th anniversary, and Street Fighter has a long legacy and our fans came along for the ride. Even though we're opening up to this new chapter, we knew that there is still going to be a really strong finish for [Street Fighter] 5 and we're going to have strong farewell, especially with Capcom Cup.
Shacknews: What are some noteworthy milestones that you feel that the Street Fighter series hit with the Street Fighter 5 generation?
Simmons: One was the release of Champion Edition having all that content: stages, characters, all bundled into one, feeling like the most complete version that it's ever been, also having that kick off to that Season 5 pass and the way we did it. I think it also unrolled this new era, because at the time, that was when we had our digital showcases.
This was during pandemic timing. There was a lot of uncertainty and a lot of pivoting within the team, but we were able to kind of show our faces, the faces of the Street Fighter franchise, which is Games Director [Takayuki] Nakayama and Producer [Shuhei] Matsumoto taking the helm and hearing back from the community on that transparency and open communication. And, with that, actually rolling out the Season 5 pass, which is why we felt like we were going to have a strong finish with this one. A lot of fans gave us some good feedback on that from not only that strong roster, but also that crossover character of Akira. So I'm just thinking about those iconic moments that are rolling into this nice swansong, so that we can now prep for [Street Fighter 6].
Shacknews: Every Street Fighter community, going all the way back to Street Fighter 2, Third Strike, SF4, and SF5, they've all felt different and distinct. In what ways do you feel that Street Fighter 6's community might differ from the previous ones?
Simmons: Oh, my gosh! It's actually really awesome to see the change, because I remember starting Street Fighter back in [Street Fighter] 4 and seeing C. Viper, and seeing that kind of throwback, like a little bit of homage to hip hop at that time, as well, and then seeing how it's evolved.
Now with [Street Fighter] 6, what I love is that it really highlights the different kind of fans we have. We still have like our core FGC folks, right? We brought them in with that in-game commentator feature. Then a couple of weeks ago, we actually brought in [WWE's] Zelina Vega, which... we can gush about that.
Shacknews: I was very excited.
Simmons: To highlight her as a commentator, people like the wrestling community, which there's a lot of history there, but also [it shows] like it's not just for esports fans, it's not just for those competitors. There's toy collectors. There's people like hip hop artists, even, that connect back to the brand. So we're trying to pay homage to all those different dimensions of fans for [Street Fighter] 6.
Shacknews: We're seeing with Luke and the newer characters that there is a push towards spotlighting some fresh faces in Street Fighter 6. What are the challenges in presenting newer characters to this fan base, many of whom have already had their favorites for generations?
Simmons: You say challenge, but it's actually been really exciting. Kimberly, for instance, when we revealed her back at EVO and, I see that smile there, it's like, she had the smoke bombs, you know, and she's alongside Juri, right, who's also like that favorite. And, we thought, "Oh, my gosh, she'll be overshadowed, she'll be outshined," but no, people were just as equally excited.
We're seeing with each character reveal new fan art, new cosplay, and new communities. Even as far as recently revealed [characters] back at The Game Awards where we had Manon, Marissa, and Dee Jay. You had a legacy character like Dee Jay that everyone loved, but then we had trends over with Marissa. They were like, "The power that woman has!" So, I think people are really excited about the diverse roster, skill sets, aesthetics, and, so far, it has not been a challenge. It's actually been a delight.
Shacknews: I've been following Capcom's partnership with UDON Entertainment for some time, and I was intrigued by the announcement that Street Fighter 6 is getting a comic book prequel series in May. In what ways will this series help set up the story and the status quo for Street Fighter 6?
Simmons: Our partners at UDON, they're great! We've had a years-long relationship with those guys and it's always nice to see that they want to collaborate with us in different forms. We just felt like we wanted to showcase the story and the lore of Street Fighter in different mediums, right, rather than just the game itself.
So we just felt it was very befitting to try to have this comic book series, but then we actually had it with more of the focal point of Ken. We actually showed a short sample of that back in the Game Informer interview we had in November. People got to see a sneak peek, because everyone's like, "What's wrong with Ken? Why is he so dark?" So we wanted to showcase that kind of aspect of the story leading into the actual game launch and hopefully people enjoy that.
Shacknews: I feel like this aspect of the Street Fighter 6 build up has fallen under a lot of radars, but Street Fighter 6 marks a sort of return to Xbox. Can you speak to how the return to Xbox came about and how important was it to get that player base back?
Simmons: We're really excited about having our partnership with Xbox. We're glad that they're back in the family. We just want to be sure that for Street Fighter 6, everyone will have accessibility for this game. That doesn't just include just the new battle mechanics or even the control schemes, but it also includes platform accessibility. We felt like it was fitting with this turnover of a new era that we have have them also come in to the family as well. We very much look forward to having the return of our Xbox players coming back and enjoying [Street Fighter] 6.
A lot happened since this interview took place. In addition to the announcement of the $2 million USD prize pool for the next Capcom Pro Tour season, Capcom also revealed Street Fighter 6's final launch characters. The stage is set for the next big entry in the long-running franchise. Look for Street Fighter 6 to come to PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PlayStation 4 on June 2.