Always playful and usually with a Blanka toy in hand, Capcom producer Yoshinori Ono is quite a character. While he is best known for his work on the Street Fighter series, he has also worked on older titles from the Capcom stable such as Breath of Fire IV, Dino Crisis 2, and Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams. More recently, he is believed to be working on the PlayStation 4 exclusive Deep Down, which he announced back at the PS4 reveal conference in February 2013.
During GameStart 2014, Mr. Ono, together with fellow Capcom producer Tomoaki Ayano, revealed the animal costume pack for Ultra Street Fighter 4. The two producers were also on hand for a humorous group interview session (via a translator) which PlayStation LifeStyle was a part of.
One of the first questions asked was what would they do for an update for Street Fighter X Tekken, provided that the development budget for it was available. Ono-san responded that they would like to re-do the character balance and the gem system as well. He also joked that Sony should just transfer money to his bank account for the update to be developed.
When asked about their strategies for continuing the Street Fighter legacy into a new generation of players, the producers mentioned that “…when they started to develop Street Fighter IV, they were aiming at developing a game that anyone could have a chance to try, even if not really playing it. So seven years ago, when Street Fighter IV was out, they were hoping, aiming to create a game that even if people are not playing it, they would feel the fun of it by simply watching it. And that was a time when Ustream was started so they also started a replaying channel of Street Fighter so people could share their videos, and people can watch. In that way, they hope to really arouse the interest of people and to gradually promote the game to more people.” They added that they aimed for Street Fighter IV to be a new start for the series, wherein it wasn’t necessary to have played the previous titles in the series to be able to play the game. Ono-san noted that he emphasized the “new start” to the development team as well and he thinks this allowed Street Fighter IV to attract newer players.
In one of the funnier segments of the session, an interviewer asked if there was anything new for Street Fighter for the PS4 (with video-sharing in consideration) given that the PS3 was a good home for the series. Mr. Ono jokingly responds that since it was previously announced that the PS4 has now sold 10 million globally, another 10 million PS4 sales would make him consider putting the series on the PS4; and said to the reporter that if he wants Street Fighter on the system, maybe he should order the additional 10 million PS4s himself; to which the interviewer responded that Vita hasn’t exactly sold well but it has gotten Street Fighter X Tekken (laughs all around the room). Ono then playfully responds and says that instead of 10 million, an additional 15 million would make him consider a PS4 Street Fighter. In a more serious manner however, Ono-san said that they are “aware of the global sales of the PS4 and he can say that they will do something on the PlayStation 4 but about which title and when it would be, it’s not something that he can say at the moment. But for example, including the Share feature of the PS4, at Capcom, they’re doing all kinds of research and so it’s possible that they would do something on this next-generation console.” He adds that they are already hiring more people for next generation development.
It was also mentioned that Ono would be making an announcement during the Capcom Cup in December. He noted that making the announcement during the interview session would be “interesting” but also stated that for the Capcom Cup, he will be announcing “something secret from when he was in kindergarten,” to mild laughter across the room.
Another important piece of discussion from the group interview was the unannounced PS4 game to be helmed by Ono, which was rumoured earlier this year. Ono even looked at a news post of it online which was showed by a press member on his mobile phone. He just laughed after looking at it however, and says “next question,” and almost everyone in the room laughed as well. PlayStation Lifestyle also asked for any updates on Tekken X Street Fighter and how far along into development is it and in a similarly joking fashion, Ono-san said that we should ask the 16 people from Bandai Namco who are also present at GameStart 2014 instead.
The free-to-play model was also brought up in the discussion, specifically, if the Street Fighter series would be exploring the said model in the future. Ono-san stated that the free-to-play model is indeed a possibility for fighting games, but “in regards to how to develop the Street Fighter series in a free-to-play model….he doesn’t see anything very clear about the model yet” for the series. He continued by saying that there could be a possibility of a free to play Street Fighter title, but it won’t be in the very near future.
Talking about the future of Street Fighter and how it would be influenced by the capabilities of the PS4, Mr. Ono brought up PlayStation Now and stated that it “can help create a new type of Street Fighter fighting game” and that “he can think of various proposals of new Street Fighter games.”
One of the last questions was asked by PlayStation LifeStyle, and we asked why the PS4 was chosen as the platform for Deep Down. As he’s done throughout the interview however, Mr. Ono teasingly said that it was just because he happened to have a PS4 dev kit on his desk (laughs). One of the PR personnel who was also in the room then clarified that it was Sony who approached Capcom earlier than other platform holders for Deep Down.