I imagine making a 2D game with a massive cast like this would be crazy expensive in this day and age.
Well, SNK is doing it with KOFXIII. I'm not sure what the total amount of characters is, but it's going to be a lot. How expensive is it really to make a 2D fighting game from the ground up? I'm curious. Especially today when the fans would want HI-RES, HD sprites.
Depends on what you're looking at, and what kind of company you are. Capcom has
the money to do a 2D fighter, but that's not the point for them. For all our haranguing about how 2D is its own beautiful medium (and it is
), the mass market doesn't see it that way. 3D sells, it's seen as "next-gen" (whatever that means), and it's easier to get all those dramatic, crowd-pleasing camera angles when dealing with polygonal models.
SNK has gone the other route, to sufficiently lesser response. If you compared the numbers for Street Fighter IV against King of Fighters XII, what would you do as a business? Even Arc System Works, having grown Guilty Gear as a healthy franchise, doesn't make the kind of profit Capcom does.
2D has its place. Megaman sells based around 2D retro. But that's based on expectations
. No one expects Megaman to be a cinematically enticing experience. Megaman doesn't need punch or vigor. Street Fighter does
. When they moved into high-end 2D with Street Fighter III, they created an impossible situation for themselves. Street Fighter as a franchise has to keep abreast of the situation; it's why they allow for experiments like Arika's ill-received "EX+Alpha" series. It won't hurt the company's image or the main SF following, but it lets them test out what the franchise would be able to do.
That said, I'm sure Capcom decided 3D (strictly speaking, 2.5D is still
3D, so I'm not going to split hairs) was finally at a place where they could execute their vision in 3D. Consider that they needed fast enough framerates, particle effects, smooth enough character models, high enough resolution on textures and so on to bring over Street Fighter's cartoon look. Well, this was that time. It wouldn't have worked even on the PS2 -- that machine can't do what they want. But the 360 and PS3? They can.
Will Capcom return to 2D with Street Fighter or another related franchise? Only if they see it as a viable avenue for business. It makes no
sense for MvS3 to be in 2D. Not only do portions of rigs make it easier for them to swap around effects (you can use the same bones for several different models if they're similar enough), but they can make things look more interesting to the general consumer. That's where the money's at.
They know we're going to buy the game anyway because of how good their brand is. Our quips and twitters about 2D? Those won't matter come gametime. We'll be playing, like everyone else.
But hey, I could be wrong. Capcom could look at the retro revival and their success with Megaman and greenlight 2D as a medium for a future fighting game. I just don't think it'll be MvS3.