Over the past few days, I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Street Fighter IV: Volt’s online multiplayer. I’ve been doing so because I want to unlock Akuma, which can be done either by playing 100 online matches or beat the game with all 18 characters. On paper, 100 online matches is easier to complete than 144 matches against the computer. Boy, was I wrong.
Almost every match I’ve played where I was in a position to win, ended in a rage quit. At one point, I had played against 10 straight people who all rage quit before I could win. Never have I experienced a game that where the player base was as filled with rage-quitting babies as this game. As someone trying to unlock Akuma by recording 100 matches, it doesn’t help my cause, as matches don’t get recorded if someone rage quits.
Is this a symptom of the Street Fighter player base as a whole? Heck no. I’ve played hundreds of hours of the console versions on both XBOX 360 and PlayStation 3, and rage quitters are a rarity. For research purposes, I even played a few hours of the 3DS game online and virtually no one rage quit.
Is it a fault of the iPhone game itself? Kind of. Unlike the console and 3DS versions, it does not do as good of a job of preventing rage quitters from doing their thing. For one, you can’t preview an opponent’s disconnection rate before the fight starts. This can only been seen after backing out of online play and looking at the Card List. I’ve gone back after the fact to see that many of the opponents I’ve faced have dropped out of over half of their matches. I can’t count on two hand the number of players I’ve played that have quit 75% of their matches early. It’s embarrassing. Secondly, player’s records are displayed on the versus screen before each fight. Because their record is publicly displayed in that manner, it drives a ton of people to rage quit in order to keep that record pristine. I fought one guy with a 100-0 record, and immediately knew he was a rage quitter. Lo and behold, he quit before I could polish him off in the second round.
Even if the iPhone game had the same anti-rage quitting measures as the other versions, I don’t think it would be enough. I’m fairly certain that the rage quit epidemic that Volt suffers is mainly driven by the players itself. The primary audience that plays Volt is not the same audience that plays the ‘real’ versions of the game. This audience is a far more casual group of people, who aren’t as invested in learning the ins-and-outs of the game, and who don’t have much in the way of online fighting game experience. For whatever reason, this group of people also can’t seem to take any losses whatsoever.
I know this type of behaviour isn’t new to online gaming, but what especially boggles my mind is the game that this behaviour is taking place in. Call me ignorant, but I don’t think Street Fighter IV: Volt warrants the crazed protection of one’s win/loss record. It’s not like there’s a hardcore competitive scene around the iPhone game and you could be the iPhone version of Daigo. Even if you were, who cares? It’s only the iPhone version that people simply play for fun. There will never be an EVO-equivalent for the iPhone game. What are these people trying to achieve? If you want to be super-serious about the game, go play the arcade or console versions. You’re not even going to impress your friends by having a win-heavy record on your iPhone copy of Street Fighter.
At this point, unless you have friends who will do friendly matches with you, I think online play for Street Fighter IV: Volt is a lost cause, which is a shame. The only games that will likely go on your record are losses, as any hopes of you winning will most likely be dashed by a sore loser who will just rage quit. As much as I love the idea of online play in my iPhone version of Street Fighter IV, the player base has completely turned me off from wanting to try it ever again. In order for this experience to get better, the community around the game is going to have to grow up, which I don’t see happening anytime soon.