What does the pro gamer license mean for Japan's fighting game scene? According to Ono, it's great news for the FGC and events as a whole

Cites increased potential for Capcom Japan to hold open events for aspiring players

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • February 6, 2018 at 4:33 p.m. PST

There's been a lot of talk lately about the pro license system that's coming to Japan, where pro gamers will be able to obtain a license to compete for money without violating the nation's gambling laws.

Reactions to it have been mixed, and one of the best pieces on it was written by FOX|Momochi and translated by Jiyuna, where he lined up a bunch of the pros and cons about this new system.

This whole situation is a bit complicated, and even game companies have had a hard time dealing with these laws, hence why many players in Japan remain arcade monsters, never having enough funds to travel to international events and compete on the world stage.

Yoshinori Ono, the producer of the Street Fighter series over at Capcom, took the time to talk about the new possibilities this pro license system would bring to Japan, though, noting that this is something that could make the competitive scene not only for Street Fighter, but for many other fighting games as well, thrive so much more in its native homeland.

Appearing on site at the Tokaigi GP tournament earlier today, Ono gave his thoughts on the matter publicly.

Ono starts off by saying that even with these changes, there shouldn't be any impact to the community-driven events that the Japanese community and its players have put together in the past and hopefully will continue to do in the future, such as the Topanga League.

He continues by explaining that with this new pro license system in place, it's likely that Capcom Japan will be able to step in and assist in areas and situations where they simply weren't able to do anything before.

He also expresses the desire of Capcom Japan to be able to help in any way they can when it comes to events, as has been clearly shown from Capcom as a company on a worldwide scale with the Capcom Pro Tour events and the big prize pots that have followed.

To finish it off, Ono mentions that it will now be possible for Capcom Japan to in the future hold events which, contrary to this particular event, are not invitationals, but open to the public where anyone can enter, and asks fans watching at home to please look forward to future announcements and information from them in that regard.

While this of course means that Japan has a much higher potential for bigger events, similar to the successful EVO Japan, as well as more developer-sponsored tournaments, which will inevitably lead to increased reason for international players to travel to Japan and compete, there's also another aspect to this that is very interesting.

Something that has continuously been brought up throughout fighting game history is how many secret master-level players there are in Japan who simply are not capable of traveling to international events, often referred to as arcade monsters, though that's obviously not quite accurate when it comes to the arcade-less game Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition.

This increased presence of events, and legitimization of making money off of video games could lead to a greatly increased number of Japanese players being able to actually make a living off of this, and pursue fighting games as a proper career, or at least bring their heavily grinded skills to the worldwide stage as a side gig.

Having someone as big as Ono talking openly about the potential this will bring for Japan as a nation when it comes to eSports, of course speaking from a fighting game perspective, speaks volumes about how big of a deal this could end up being for the nation and all of its players.

While all of this sounds great on paper, and there's hopefully a lot of good stuff to look forward to, you can't completely ignore the points that FOX|Momochi brings up in his piece, either.

Two of his major gripes with this new iniative are rooted in who's doing it, and how exactly it's going to be carried out.

A very good point FOX|Momochi brings up is that the people deciding how this license system works, and who's eligible for such a pro license, are not connected to the fighting game scene or eSports in any way, meaning that they might have little understanding, or worse, little passion or caring for the scene or its players.

This is of course not a guarantee, but it's something that's easy to be concerned about when your livelihood and your passion are both at stake all of a sudden. If the people involved in managing this license system aren't invested in the players and their accomplishments, or their drive to compete, it could very well end up hurting the scene in the long run.

It's also worth considering, as FOX|Momochi points out, who exactly is this system for? If this system is only built around taking the players who are already sponsored and competing internationally and arbitrarily renaming them as pro gamers, which they're already considered, the only discernable change will be that Japan's top players can potentially earn more money at home than they have up until now, while players trying to prove themselves get left in the dust.

Further reinforcing such an arbitrary wall against newcomers and players trying to prove themselves as the top levels could conversely end up hurting the scene, and lowering interest in the games themselves and the competition surrounding them.

While FOX|Momchoi's thoughts from roughly two months ago are something to consider, Yoshinori Ono seems positive about the prospect, and as it stands right now, it's difficult to say what this will mean for the Japanese scene.

All we can really do for the moment is wait and see, though obviously hope for the best. With how well EVO Japan went, and having an EVO Japan 2019 announced already, it's really not so farfetched to think that there'll be some good compromise between the community and the executives leading to greener pastures for all.

Source: Ono video obtained via HiFightTH.

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