Another year, another E3. Another year where we wait for an announcement at E3. While previous years we've been grasping at straws, I think this year we could actually get some sort of hints of a new release. Allow me to explain why I think you guys should get your hopes up and why I think Namco has yet to abandon the series...
Firstly, depending on which game (Soul Edge or Soulcalibur), and which release you are talking about (arcade or console), we're right in the middle of what could be considered the 20th anniversary for the series. This can be seen with the the activity on the Official Soulcalibur Facebook all last year celebrating the 20th anniversary. If Namco had indeed abandoned the series, why spend the effort to conduct polls and keep readership alive on Facebook; a platform which companies primarily use for marketing.
But you may be asking: why have we been waiting 5 years? Traditionally, we get a new numbered Soulcalibur game every 3 to 4 years; whats with the delay? Instead we've been inundated with lackluster mobile games and clearly micro-transaction based cash grabs. These questions, I think could be answered by examining the mind of Katsuhiro Harada. Harada is the chief director or the Tekken series, as well as a member of Project Soul. Most importantly, he took control of Namco's entire fighting game division before the release of Soulcalibur V.
A lot of us believe that Soulcalibur V was undercooked; as if it was released 6 months early. The menu systems and character select screens which were clearly placeholders during the beta, ending up sticking around for the full worldwide release. As well as the entire bottom row of characters being filler clones, instead of unique fighting styles of Talim, Zasalamel or Yun-seong. (BTW, Talim consistently wins popularity polls year after year)
However, you must realize that if SCV was released months later, it would have come out in the same fiscal quarter as Tekken Tag Tournament 2. There is no way a smart producer would ever allow that to happen. That would put two similar Namco products competing with each other and cannibalize their profits. So I personally believe (without evidence) that Harada made the fiscally responsible choice and pushed up the release of SCV.
So why push up Soulcalibur and not Tekken, why give Soulcalibur the short end of the stick? Well here in America, we tend to think of Soulcalibur as the more popular series; but worldwide, this simply is not true. Tekken has been historically the more successful franchise. As well, you must consider the coin-op business; Tekken still has one and Namco was originally a coin-op business. I honestly would not be surprised if in a few years, Namco goes down the Konami route and focuses the majority of their business on the extremely profitable gambling businesses of pachinko and slots.
Keeping all this in mind, that Namco doesn't want Soulcalibur to compete against Tekken, it makes sense that Namco hasn't really spoken about Soulcalibur for the past two years. Tekken 7 has had an extremely long arcade cycle this time around, releasing as a coin-op over two years ago! During that time they've spoken about Tekken 7 to the point where I kind of feel like it's already an old game; even though it doesn't release to consoles for another two weeks.
But Tekken 7 is releasing in two weeks... which means it could finally be time to talk about Soulcalibur again. E3 is in 3 weeks; after the release of Tekken 7. According to the E3 2017 Exhibitors List, Namco will be showing off a fighting game at E3. Namco has five popular fighting game franchises: Tekken, Soulcalibur, Naruto, Dragon Ball Z and Smash Bros. Out of those titles it is more likely that Namco shows up Tekken or Soulcalibur on the show floor... the question is, do they use the space to showcase a game they just released and have been showcasing for over two years? Or do they unveil an upcoming game, such as Soulcalibur VI?
So what do you want out of E3? Soulcalibur VI? Soulcalibur 3 HD Online?