I feel like I must be missing some facts about this issue, because the correct course of action seems clear (ban gems or ban the game in tournaments), yet there is debate about it. I may very well be missing facts, so sorry if I'm stating anything incorrectly. It appears that the upcoming fighting game Street Figher x Tekken allows you to customize your character with "gems." Ok that's fine, I have no objection to such an idea. It further appears that you must grind to unlock these gems, and/or buy them, and that some are "pre-order" only. Further, even if all gems were available, actually selecting them is believed to be too time consuming to do match after match at a tournament.
This article on SRK muses about these issues.
As competitive gamers, we should reject games (or parts of games) that violate the concept of fair competition. Those games can still be played "for fun," but not like real tournament games. The reason this question about SFxT seems so clear (if I understand right!) is that "pre-order only" should automatically cause us to ban. That's not an acceptable concept in a competitive game, therefore it must be rejected. We need only figure out what to reject. The choices are: a) those gems, b) all gems, c) the entire game. It is possible that these pre-order-only gems are cosmetic only, or strictly inferior to other gems (that you must buy? that you must grind for?), but we don't know yet.
Grinding to unlock is also unacceptable in a competitive game. It's antithetical to the nature of fair competition, not to mention a major hassle to event-runners. Anything that materially affects gameplay should be available to any would-be competitor right away. This actually means DLC characers are potentially fine. You buy them and they are immediately available. If all gems were possible to buy, then there is no "crime" against competition, we'd just have to see if the game cost $500 or something, ha.
Anything locked away behind some grind is not acceptable though. That's a barrier between the player and the game that we as competitive gamers don't want. We want each other to have access to the real game right away. More and more of this has crept into fighting games, and we've all kind of let it slide, but an entire system based on forced grind (if that's what this is...is it??) should be roundly rejected out-of-hand. Is that what you'd like to become standard? I know I don't. I subtract 1 point out of 10 in each version of Soul Calibur that doesn't let me pick Cervantes the moment I buy it. (Looking at you Soul Calibur 3.)
Yes I'm aware that League of Legends has a forced grind in order to unlock materially important aspects of gameplay. That means it, too, violates the minimum standard of what competitive gamers should accept. (Sorry League of Legends, just make a way to buy a full character, full level, full mastery immediately and you're off the hook.) If we applied this kind of reasoning to Starcraft, it would just be ridiculous. Imagine if you had to grind to unlock the Lurker in Starcraft3, and that Reavers were pre-order only. I used to use that same joke with Street Fighter. "Imagine if you had to grind to unlock Chun Li and that Zangief was pre-order only." But now the joke is getting pretty real. It's scary to think competitive gamers might accept that, which will encourage game companies to go more and more in that direction. Leage of Legends has millions of dollars worth of reasons to coninue doing what it's doing because those gamers *do* accept the idea that it's ok to lock gameplay-affecting things behind a grind and still call it a competitive game. Will that be the future in fighting games as well?
If there really are pre-order only gems that affect gameplay, and if there really is a forced grind to get these hundreds of gems, the competitive community is best served by sending a message that such things aren't acceptable. I personally think the idea of customization in a fighting game is pretty interesting, though. You too might be interested in the gameplay these gems could create. I think the best way to get that is to make sure game developers (not just Capcom, but any fighting game developers at all) see that players won't accept things that violate the spirit of fairness in their tournaments. If Capcom could try again another game that incorporates customization in an acceptable way, that would be nice, and maybe we could use that customization in tournaments. Just keep in mind that other fighting game developers are out there too, and they'll be looking at this situation to see if they should do nonsense like pre-order only Mitsurugi and grind-to-unlock a +5 sword for Mitsurugi. They can absolutely make that game, I just wouldn't want to have to play it at a tournament, and especially not at Evolution. On the other hand, when stuff like this is an optional mode that I can mess around with and turn off for competitive play, that's no problem at all. In fact, it sounds fun. Well not the pre-order only part.
Finally, there's the issue of selecting the gems before each match. I think this one is somehow solvable with good UI or something, but I don't happen to know how off the top of my head. If each player really has to select several gems from a list of hundreds before each match, that's actually not feasible in a tournament. Button config already takes a huge amount of time in tournaments, too much really. Picking gems out of a list of hundreds might be reason enough to disallow them in tournaments, just for time-reasons. If you haven't been to a tournament (or watched a stream) you might very well underestimate the importance of this. Once you are waiting for hundreds (or thousands!) of players to select gems before each match, you will see how big of a time-sink it becomes and how hard it becomes to run an event Again, I think this one is solvable...somehow. We just don't know if SFxT will do a good job of solving it yet. Maybe?
Customization sounds fun and interesting. But remember that your "vote" counts as a competitive player. If we accept more and more unfairness in supposedly competitive games, then game companies will give us more and more grind-to-unlock Lurkers and pre-order-only Reavers.
TLDR version: we have no real choice but to ban SFxT gems in competitive play, or ban the whole game. Either way, make sure your vote is heard on this issue, becuase it will affect more and more fighting games in the future.