Rainbow Mika, a legacy character re-added to the roster for Street Fighter V, was too lewd in her standard costume for ESPN during their EVO broadcast.
The FGC is a huge deal to a lot of people. It creates a huge spectacle every year; it even has its own tour, with various stops on the calendar, just like physical sports. Those who take parts are celebrities in their own right, with huge fan-bases that spur them on for every fight.
With something this big, it was only a matter of time before multi-national conglomerates caught on. With interest in TV moving to the internet, entertainment is evolving. ESPN, a major sporting channel based primarily in the US, saw the popularity of e-sports and signed up to broadcast some of the events.
One such event is EVO. One of the most notable stops on the FGC calendar, EVO is the tournament for fighting game fans. EVO hosts brackets for multiple games, but there’s one that always stands out – Street Fighter.
For anyone who’s read our past coverage, you’ll know Street Fighter V was marred in a bit of controversy. This was mainly down to Rainbow Mika, a legacy character re-introduced to the series for this latest installment. The team at Capcom opted to maintain her old outfit, a racy number fit for a wrestler of Mika’s caliber, which unsurprisingly caused a commotion.
With the advent of e-sports, you won’t be surprised to learn that Mika is in the bad books again. As we mentioned, ESPN had signed up to broadcast various tournaments, one of which was EVO. TV is a little different to the internet, with advertisers and suits making the big calls on what’s acceptable.
During one of the matches for SFV, one of the players was asked to swap costumes for the next match. The competitor, Fuudo, is from Japan and had to have the message translated to him by an interpreter. If you watched EVO live, you would’ve seen the change happen, but for anyone who missed it, you can see below (thanks to Game-Heure).
You can also see confirmation from Ryan Harvey (AKA Fubarduck) in these two tweets, where he comments on the change.
While it’s easy to blame ESPN for this, it’s probably not their ultimate decision. Advertising makes the world go round, and as such advertisers often have a lot of sway with broadcasters. Many companies don’t want their brand to be associated with certain things, so there’s a good chance the call was made for that very reason.
ESPN themselves actually publish something they call their “body issue“, a magazine dedicated to the (nude) bodies of sports personalities. It seems odd for a publication to have such a stark contrast until you notice something – there are only unrelated Google Display ads. A lack of static, sponsored ads means ESPN aren’t beholden to strict guidelines. On live TV? Not so much.
This is only going to occur more as e-sports grows. We’ve already seen Team YouPorn be discriminated against, and they’re probably not going to be the last. Advertisers and sponsors are terrified of negative press, and as we’ve seen in recent years, they’ve arguably got a lot to be afraid of.
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