You can play Street Fighter 6 now, almost six months before the launch date, as long as you don’t mind being naughty and looking for an unofficial version of the game.
Long before even half of the characters planned for Street Fighter 6 became playable during betas, before trailers for the entire cast were released, people were trying to tear apart the game and its mechanics. They even train and play online through third-party tools, preparing for the full launch of the game in illegal online backrooms. For many, Street Fighter 6, or at least a very early version of it, has been out for months.
For months, bright minds have been tinkering behind the curtain with Street Fighter 6 files made public thanks to betas that allowed a select few to test the game early. Due to an unfortunate flaw in the files provided to PC players, a select few were able to break through barriers designed to prevent people from playing past the beta period.
This started out as a relatively niche problem, as only those with access to the PC beta (and knowledge of the “cracked” version of the game) were able to break back into Street Fighter 6’s closed beta. Since then during this initial test period in October, the break has widened thanks to the continued efforts of online modders. Now anyone can download a super early version of Street Fighter 6 as long as they know where to look.
After about an hour of searching, I was able to find both a direct link to SF6 beta files and instructions on how to get it up and running, as well as Discord servers where like-minded people (after posting a few memes at your expense) were more than happy to help people get the crack. In no time, we were able to verify that the SF6 crack exists and is open for download.
Capcom, in an effort to deter mischievous people around the world from getting their groove on before they were supposed to, sent out emails to those they discovered were going back into beta. This email stated that by returning to the beta, they violated the terms and conditions that players had to accept before accepting a build that was only meant to be played during the previously allotted times. Now that anyone can download the beta, even without pre-existing access, it seems to have done little to deter players.
Especially not the online world warriors, the Street Fighter elite – the ones who were able to track down the crack with just a few Google searches and a Discord server link. Take Francisco, from Brazil. After hearing rumors about the crack online, he asked around the Street Fighter community and – quite easily – found his way back to SF6.
“I understand why Capcom is concerned about people playing the cracked beta,” he says. “There is a concern that the image of an unfinished product could hurt sales, but ultimately I don’t think it will be a negative for the publisher – or for the community as a whole. I doubt that Capcom will take stricter action on the crack.”
This lack of concern has allowed a small sub-group of combo Columbus to emerge, setting out to discover powerful attack sequences and devastating set-ups long before the majority of the player base has even had a chance to get hands-on. to go with the game. Francisco is not afraid that this will be at the expense of long-term gaming pleasure. In fact, he defends a contrary view:
“The game only gets deeper and really comes to life when everyone plays against each other. I can’t even imagine what things the top players will come up with.” He continues: “I think the preliminary lab work being done now will only speed up the real discovery process once the full game is released. Now that the basics have been covered, everyone a head start to work on the next discoveries and development of the meta.”
With much of the ground work being done by illegal users, the idea is that the information they seed into Discord servers, YouTube channels and forums will ensure that that dark early period of uncertainty will quickly dissipate once the game is official released.
“That’s the nature of fighting games, you can’t keep your ‘tech’ a secret. It is much faster to learn from the experiments and discoveries of others than to invent everything yourself.”
A professional player, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, said: “That would be me incredible surprised when you find top players willing to admit they play it. this player doesn’t have the crack, but isn’t against using it and is absolutely sympathetic to anyone who decides to do so.
“Well, there’s pressure to be good out-the-gate when you get to SF6, and obviously it’s an advantage if you can keep playing a build of the game when others aren’t, right? You need every advantage you can get, and I understand why it would create pressure to download/use it”
As for the impact this will have on the competitive scene as a whole? The pro we spoke to believes it will eventually level out with the game’s full release, but a benefit will be tangible in those early months.
“I totally understand the anger of others at people playing the cracked betas. Chances are that while the actual final release will be very different, the fact that people can spend time on the actual mechanics of the game before its release in a way that others can’t will certainly be an advantage.
“I don’t feel like it’s going to be too much of an advantage a few months after release, but there will be a benefit.”
So there will likely be an impact on the competitive environment surrounding Street Fighter 6. That said, this isn’t the first time a smaller portion of the global fan base for a fighting game has been given early access. Historically, fighting games were released in Japanese arcades long before they had a console release, resulting in Eastern domination for big budget titles (like Tekken 7 in the early days, for example). Or take Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, where certain players openly admitted to testing the game before losing at their region’s local events.
It’s crazy how badly you talked about me on your stream, telling people that I don’t have integrity and that I shouldn’t be allowed to participate in tournaments…
Hypocrisy at its best 😂 https://t.co/kSLznVJF7Y pic.twitter.com/AiBxENglCS
— Chris Tatarian (@Chris_Tatarian) December 18, 2022
The big problem here, though, is that it’s not just a single region or a handful of pros who have access to Street Fighter 6 right now. It’s you! It’s me! It’s anyone who can devote a few minutes of the evening to Google or call a trusted friend with the hookup.
So should you do it? Probably not. For the vast majority of players, this current version of Street Fighter 6 won’t be entertaining for long, plagued by bugs and lacking all features and easily accessible online play.
There’s little Capcom can do at this point, and with an entire community growing around to fix and sort out the crack, it seems likely that SF6’s piracy problem won’t go away until we get the game right.