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What are the chances and what would it mean for Street Fighter if Sony acquires Capcom?

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • February 1, 2022 at 8:30 p.m. PST • Comments: 61

The ramifications of Sony helping to fund Street Fighter 5 as a PlayStation 4 console exclusive after millions of fans spent the previous generation largely playing the series on the Xbox 360 were felt far and wide throughout the fighting game community, but how would things be if they were like that all of the time now?

Huge studio acquisitions are the big points of discussion and contention across the video game industry right now after Microsoft pledged to buy Activision Blizzard last week followed by Sony firing back by snatching up Bungie, and one of the companies people are looking at most who may be in line next / in the near future is Capcom.

Even outside of SF5, Capcom and Sony have a long history of working closely together dating back to the days of the original Resident Evil titles, Mega Man X4โ€“8 and first trilogy of Devil May Cry.

But does that mean the makers of PlayStation would or are looking to just purchase them outright, and what impact would that have on Street Fighter and fighting games moving forward if they did?

That's what we're here to dig a little deeper into today by taking a closer look at both the good and potential not so good that could come out of a Sony Capcom deal.

Let's start with those betting odds shall we?

Will Sony pull the trigger and can they even do so?

Now obviously, we're not market analysts nor corporate financial experts, but it's probably safe in our eyes to say that the chances of a Capcom acquisition at this point is way, way higher than 0%.

Capcom has a lot to offer for a potential buyer with arguably the second-best roster of video gaming icons and franchises next to Nintendo, which would be enough to catch anyone's eye.

That being said, however, the company behind Street Fighter is also one of the "cheapest" large-scale developers / publishers which could be up for grabs.

Current estimates place Capcom's total net worth to be around $5 billion USD, and that's a good chunk less than Square Enix's $5.9 billion market cap, Bandai Namco's $15 billion market cap and EA's $38 billion market cap.

$5 billion wouldn't be what Sony, Microsoft or anyone else would spend to actually buy up the company, however, as acquisitions of this size can go for up to double of the actual net worth.

"We should absolutely expect more [acquisitions]. We are by no means done. With PlayStation, we have a long way to go" - Jim Ryan, SIE president and CEO

Would Sony cough up $10 billion just for Capcom? For the rights to Resident Evil, Monster Hunter, Street Fighter and Mega Man, it may very well be worth it in the long run.

Moreover, could they even afford to do that right now?

Next to Microsoft's landmark deals to acquire Bethesda for $7.5 billion and Activision for a mind-boggling $68.7 billion, Sony's recent gaming purchases have been relatively tame.

They spent $229 million to purchase Insomniac Games in late 2019, and that was their largest get up until the new Bungie deal for $3.6 billion with smaller studios including Bluepoint Games and Housemarque coming in between.

The ultimate answer to that question, however, is likely yes they can.

Sony released a statement in May of 2021 proclaiming they will spend 2 trillion yen ($18.39 billion) over the next 3 years on strategic investments with a majority or large portion of that going into their gaming and entertainment ventures.

We're not exactly up to date on all of Sony's investments over the past year, but its seeming like at least on the PlayStation side of things that they could scoop up Capcom and still have some billions to spare.

There's also the statement released by Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan that shows the corporation is not done with big deals after Bungie.

"We should absolutely expect more [acquisitions]," said Ryan via GamesIndustry.biz. "We are by no means done. With PlayStation, we have a long way to go."

Where would that leave Street Fighter?

For those worried right now that a Sony Capcom acquisition would lead to Street Fighter 6 becoming a PlayStation 5 exclusive or console exclusive, I do have some good news for you.

The next Street Fighter entry has been in development for multiple years at this point, and the overwhelming trend we've seen in the industry with these more recent deals is they won't suddenly pull away from projects or platforms that were already in the works.

That means if Sony were to drive up to Capcom's headquarters with a dump truck of cash tomorrow, Street Fighter 6 would still release on Xbox, PC and anything else it was being developed for at that time.

There is, however, the potential follow-up conundrum of support being pulled on non-PlayStation platforms early to focus solely on the PS5, but it's hard to imagine Sony and Capcom would agree to go ahead with the giant backlash and PR nightmare that would generate for little to no gain on their end.

A deal wouldn't necessarily mean future Street Fighter or Capcom fighting games will be stuck on PlayStation either, as Sony has been shown to be opening up to publishing their games on rival systems with many previous exclusives like God of War and Horizon: Zero Dawn being dropped on PC now.

On top of that, they've confirmed in the Bungie acquisition that the makers of Destiny will still remain an independent and multiplatform studio even under the flag of PlayStation, so there's a good chance Capcom could end up in much the same situation should that come to pass.

What that would likely mean for Street Fighter moving forward though is an even bigger push into the realm of eSports.

Sony of course went and purchased the rights to the Evolution Championship series last year with RTS, so they've already shown a keen interest in going farther into competitive eSports โ€” and specifically fighting games.

With Bungie specifically being PlayStation Studios' push into live service games, Capcom could be seen as their golden ticket into eSports because that's something they don't have within their first party wheelhouse at the moment.

Whether or not that's a good or bad thing is up to you, but that would almost certainly at minimum secure larger events and more money for said events โ€” though that would be something we should remain skeptical about to say the least.

One big potential detractor, however, is that the PS5 has a trend of including higher rates of input latency compared to what we're seeing on PC and even PS4 with it being at least a few frames worse in Guilty Gear Strive and The King of Fighters 15's beta.

It certainly would not be an ideal scenario for Street Fighter to be most closely associated and aligned competitively with the PS5 if this continues to be an issue and is probably worth at least some concern in the FGC.

Perhaps though, that could be the push for Sony to get their heads out of their 5 frames of lag keesters and actually fix this assumed issue with the console, as it's hard to imagine Sony would like to see the most dedicated and competitive SF players raising a big stink that they can't play on PC or Xbox at tournaments because using the PS5 sucks.

Right now, I'm personally leaning towards Capcom likely wanting to remain an independent company, but if someone were to roll up to my front door with $10 billion cash in hand, that may be a difficult offer to refuse.

Given their recent track record of games while also setting financial records for the company, it'd probably be in their best interest overall to just try and keep doing and improving what they're already doing.

Things will certainly get very interesting for the fighting game scene and gaming industry as a whole if this happens, so we'll definitely be keeping a keen eye on Sony's plans and deals moving forward.

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