Future of fighting games in the games industry in 2018 and beyond

Although there are a couple of earlier topics, they don’t seem to fit what I’m hoping to see in this thread so I figured I would start a new one.

I have been a bit absent on the forums lately, and truthfully from playing KI. I still look over at my arcade and think “I should play that more” but frankly it’s a lot to expect a game to keep your attention so solidly for more than four years. But I have been generally following the new threads and keeping up with gaming news and I’ve been thinking a lot about fighting games in the context of the gaming industry and I can’t decide if we are on the cusp of the golden era of fighting games or if we are on the downslope of a seemingly short-lived revival. There’s a lot of smart people who post here so I thought I would throw it open for peoples’ thoughts.

Warning - wall of text incoming.

So, the two most prominent things happening in the world of fighting games right now are the success of DBFZ and the death of MvCi. Two very contrasting stories, and I’m finding it difficult to interpret anything meaningful. So, first I’m going to list some things that I think are positives, then some negatives, then some things that I think point to the very warped perceptions we sometimes see as a community of fighting game enthusiasts (including both tournament players and players who never leave their couch). This may only interest me, but hey, you’ve been warned.


  • We are seeing an unprecedentedly large number of fighting games released, and those releases are getting more attention. DBFZ, MvCi, BB Cross Tag, SNK Heroines, Soul Calibur V and I’m sure some others are adding to the crop of current gen games that really started with KI, then MKX and Injustice 2, SFV and Tekken 7. Throw in KoF and some others that I’m forgetting but not intending to dismiss and by sheer volume the last year and the next six months are huge for sheer number of fighting games.

  • DBFZ has taken a huge IP and generated a BRAND NEW fighting game that has really generated a lot of buzz and interest in the game and therefor in the genre. It’s pretty exceptional for a new IP to make a splash in the fighting game world (more on this later), and really the most remarkable new IP in the last 15 years is Injustice. That tells you a LOT about the genre.

  • Love it or hate it, there is clearly a drive to make a competitive e-sports scene.

  • good online is becoming the norm and bad online the exception. This is not happening as quickly as it should, but it’s happening. And it’s good.

  • NRS Kontinues (sorry, I couldn’t resist) to break the mold. They make a game every two years, sell 4 million copies and then two years later they do it again. Whatever you think of NRS games as competitive fighters for tournaments or e-sports, they are the unquestionable king of making fighting video games that are relevant in the sales department. They capture the public’s attention and are successful. In my opinion, if NRS was a Japanese company, they would be the unquestioned king of fighting games. Which is ironic since, culturally, the FGC continues to look to Japan but Japanese developers are doing marginally to abysmally when it comes to making and selling fighting games…

Okay, now the negatives

  • Marvel vs Capcom infinite flamed out badly. With the nearly official death of developer support and dwindling tournament presence this is a high profile game with a huge IP that went nowhere. No matter your opinion on Capcom or the vs. games, this is a bad thing for fighting games in the industry. It highlights that even with a winning formula, losing is a very big risk. I would not want to be the guy pitching a fighting game to my boss and have him ask “so what happened with MvCi?”

  • SFV is limping along. SFV has not lilt up the sales charts. It is clearly a dominant presence in the FGC competitive scene. Setting aside my opinion of SFV, I think it’s bad that the game is commercially dependent on e-sports sponsors and outside help (rather than game sales) to turn a profit for Capcom. That’s not a sustainable model and arguably not possible for any other franchise. I also think it’s not great that the flagship esports title is not even LIKED outside of the hardcore FGC. It makes growing the scene a lot harder.

  • How much has DBFZ sold? Good numbers are hard to find, but VG Chartz has it sitting at about 1.25 Million on PS4 and Xbox One combined with 4/5ths of sales on PS4. Those are great numbers for an Arc System Works game. But for a video game? It’s a quarter of the numbers that made Square Enix say Tomb Raider was a financial failure… My point being that the hottest new commodity in fighting games is barely a commercially relevant game. That’s great for DBFZ, but again, if I’m pitching a fighting game that’s a daunting thing.

  • Here come the sprite reusing remix games. I’m probably overreacting here because so far it’s just BB Cross Tag Battle that is doing this. But MvCi was essentially a sprite swap for many characters - using the same models and animations but with updated graphics (and people HATED it). But one of the signs that developers are looking at the niche market and saying “listen, we aren’t going to sell more than a million units of these games. Yeah, there’s a market but it’s small. How do we take advantage of this?” Well, one way is to reduce the cost of making the game. If you don’t have to draw new sprites you can get the game out quickly and cheaply and still probably sell the same number of copies. This is fine, and arguably some of the most respected FGC circle games are from the era of sprite reuse - including all the Capcom vs games and Capcom Vs. SNK 1 and 2. But those games also corresponded with the FGC really falling out of the mainstream and into a niche genre. Reused sprites are not going to “grow the scene” in my opinion.

  • Tekken 7 and Soul Calibur (VI) show that Namco Bandai’s plan for success is to re-lease the same game. I don’t dislike Tekken and I love Soul Calibur. But I really don’t see 7 and 6 distinct iterations of these games. They are graphical improvements with minor gameplay changes and tons of the reused animations that people freaked out about for MvCi. Tekken 7 sold moderately well, but didn’t light up the charts. It’s sitting above DBFZ but below Injustice 2 (which is the worst NRS offering since MK9, sales wise). So their version of the formula is to keep cashing in on prettier versions of the same. Again, not really advancing the genre.

  • New IP’s are rare and not commercially successful. Besides DBFZ, which is an established IP, taken by a known FGC developer and modeled heavily on an existing type of game (the vs. games), what is the last new fighting game franchise? Arguably, KI re-invented itself and is much more dramatically different than the 90’s games than say SF IV or SF V compared to their earlier games. But where is the freshness? Where are the new characters and new ideas? Developers can’t risk introducing new IPs because they are barely getting by milking sentimental favorites and that’s not great news…

So what does this mean for us as fighting game enthusiasts. Well, I think it means that we are going to need to accept that fighting games are niche games. Period. We cannot expect developers to invest heavily in developing AAA new fighting games. The economics just aren’t there. So what can we do? Well, one, we can support ALL THE GAMES that come out. I know that might be a lot for some people and I wouldn’t expect everyone to buy every fighting game. But for the love of god, please don’t get on twitter and bash the hell out of someone else’s game! It doesn’t help your game and it hurts fighting games and, ultimately, the chances of you seeing a bigger budget for the next version of your game.

I would love to be wrong about much of this. Maybe we are really just at the tip of the iceberg for a whole new crop of amazing new fighting IPs and terrific new directions for existing franchises. But it seems more like we are about to end the second fighting game boom and might be staring into the face of the next “bust” cycle.


First off, everyone actually paying attention to MVCI up until launch knew that by the way capcom was conducting things that MVCI was most likely going to end up bombing especially when at the same time DBFZ was making all the right moves for their advertisement and reveals. Please don’t act like MVCI failure was not expected. Everyone that was paying attention knew it was going to flop even if they were somewhat being positive about it.

Second, this idea of we should be nice to all other fighting communities because our game might be affected is such a strawman argument. If the fighting game genre is so fragile that it needs to have its communities regulated and babied then the genre should die. You don’t see CoD, CS, and Halo communities be nice to each other and there doing just fine.

Third, fighting games have become niche for a very long time. No matter what companies do to make the games easier the better players will always beat the casual majority. Just look at divekick. Game just revolves around 2 buttons and casuals still lose. There is nothing we can do that is going to make fighting games super popular again that doesn’t involve just getting rid of execution altogether.

Couldnt agree more Andy…well said!!! If I did memes there would be Morgan Freeman pointing at you and the Rock clapping enthusiasticlly! :wink:


And thus the example of negative attitude is the first to post… SMDH


Pessimists generally tell the truth about things that others don’t want to bring up.

I don’t think MvCI is a case that backs up the argument that fighting games can’t sell or aren’t sustainable. Capcom and the developers screwed up a lot of things that made the game look unappealing to people, even if it was a solid game at its core. If publishers take that message from what happened with MvCI, well then they’re wrong.

While it’s true that fighting games generally don’t sell nearly as much as ambitious AAA games, I doubt they cost nearly as much to make in the first place as well. It’s true that new IPs will struggle to find a sustainable audience, but I think it’s possible if the quality and marketing is there.

1 Like

To paraphrase Luke Skywalker: “Every word you just said is wrong.”

@FallofSeraphs76 I was actually going to put in the title of the thread “can we have a mature discussion about fighting games,” but I thought “nah, that’s condescending. People will read the post and make thoughtful replies.” Silly me. Anyway I’m not going to waste a bunch of energy arguing with an account created three days ago. It’s probably the twelfth version of Vlad Kravich.

I actually had a bunch more to say but had to drop it for dinner and getting the kids in bed etc. maybe people will come up with some things worth talking about and the grown ups can have a conversation in here.

One of the things that really strikes me hard is just how much MvCi took heat for having so few new characters at launch and reusing assets in the form of animation (albeit with new character models) while something like B.B. Cross Tag Battle is just accepted as a remix of old sprites.

Despite baseless asssrtions to the contrary, I think there was a lot of reason for optimism about MvCi. The 2v2 and the freedom of the tagging in the game seem like good decisions and the IP is huge. Plus, the DLC characters are all big improvements on the unoriginal vanilla MvCi roster and really make me wonder what could have been next.

It seems like we all want AAA titles but when Capcom tries to put one together people focus on the flaws and don’t want to pay AAA prices for content. But we are fine paying ASW nearly full retail prices for rehashes and remixes. That company makes great games but they basically follow the Capcom 90’s model of super-ultra-hyper-ultimate versions with a new character or two and some balance changes and a fresh full retail sticker. It’s tough because you can’t pin Group opinions on individuals, but it seems like, collectively, the FGC claims to want in thing but really wants another and success or failure is based on a lot of capricious stuff.

One of the reasons I posted was because I’m thinking a lot about a KI sequel. If I were at MS I really don’t know what I would do. As a fan, I’m desperate for a sequel but I don’t know what I expect them to do with the game. I hate the thought if Tekken/SC style “here’s 90% of the same game remade with new backgrounds,” or even SF “Here’s all the same characters you’ve come to expect and if they aren’t here now expect them in the DLC.” But that’s the successful formula in fighting games. Iterate, don’t leap. Keep bringing out the same game and selling the same number of copies to the same people.

1 Like

No offense but can we unpack this? Did they really ■■■■■ up A LOT of things? It seems like the complaints about MvCi are:

  1. Too many repeats from
  2. My favorite character didn’t make it (with no recognition that this is the opposite of #1).
  3. Trying to sell a full priced game with DLC
  4. Complaints about the graphics.
  5. No Xmen (as if anyone could reasonably expect Marvel to cross promote - for free- a rival production companies use of their original characters).

To be honest, although Capcom does lots of baffling stuff, I think a lot of this falls on the community for wanting to have their cake and eat it too. I remember all the people saying
“If only we could get another Marvel Vs. Game.” Then against the odds the game appears and people just look for weird reasons to tear it down. And for the record, I’m not a big MvC fan. I haven’t really liked any of them. But I bought this one a few weeks ago and, frankly, I’m just not seeing justification for all the complaining. Although maybe I’m looking st this wrong. NONE of the MvC games has EVER been a commercial success. That’s why they stopped after 2 and why the disc is so hard to find. No one wanted it so they didn’t make that many.

But I don’t want the thread to be about MvCi. What does this tell us about the future of fighting games? How does Capcom move on? What does it mean for other developers?

They took away iconic characters that have been in MVC since the first one… That’s a bad business choice no matter whom did it. If a MK game released without scorpion or sub zero make no mistake its sales numbers would be affected. Chun Li’s face was pretty much Mass Effect A all over again and rightfully deserved heavy criticism. The roster had so little variety that people thought we were regressing instead of progressing.

Sounds like you just hate the realities of business. There is a reason for the saying “the customer is always right” even when they aren’t always right. It doesn’t matter if there right. They have the money, they vote with their wallet, and that’s all that matters.

1 Like

High-quality sprites are hard to make, as every frame of animation is hand-drawn. Anime fighters are largely a small niche within a niche so it’s easy for its audience to forgive BBTag for going the cheap route, and it’s easier to stomach since the the franchises it draws from already share a similar art style. The game is also releasing at $40. I think those are the reasons why.

I’m talking about stuff like the aesthetic and other issues that were paraded around on social media. A lot of it wasn’t very consequential to the core quality of the game in the end, but it make the game look bad in the eyes of the public and that probably translated over to sales. Also I don’t specifically recall a lack of marketing on Capcom’s part off the top of my head but that also may have been a major issue.

1 Like

Sigh. You seriously want to tell me that Chun Li being too ugly is a legit reason for the game not to do well? Gtfo.

Lol. The customer is always right. So don’t waste your time making fighting games, make FPS games instead.

In the real world, the relationship between makers of things and consumers of things is more complicated than that. Especially in niche communities like this. Fighting games are not a commodity where you can stop buying from your supplier if they don’t give you what you want and start buying from a different supplier. Sitting around complaining about Chun Li’s face doesn’t mean MvCi2 will release with prettier faces. It means MvCi2 won’t ever happen and you reduce the likelihood of other new games coming out too.

But immature, half ■■■■■■ guys like you always want to show up and ■■■■ on things because you have delicate egos and need to somehow prove yourself by being negative. Instead of acknowledging that you are part of a community and that you are making decisions and contributions that affect the future of that community.

Knock yourself out. But there are tons of places all over the Internet where you can show up and say “yo, Capcom suxz!!” And get into heated and juvenile arguments with similarly testosterone driven meatheads about nonsense. So go find one of those places and let the grown ups talk in here okay?

Pessimists tell the truth. Optimists make it.

1 Like

These are fair points although I think a lot of this can be laid down to bandwagoning. Sitting around playing the game, Chun Li looks fine. Freeze framing an awkward image and then memeing it all over social media is pretty ridiculous. And yet it’s one of the top two things cited by both people in here arguing that MvCi was doomed to fail. It’s trivial.

I do think that visual spectacle is a big selling point for fighting games and MvCi didn’t seem to have it. The DLC characters, in my opinion, do much better. But historically, the franchise has always looked like hot garbage to me, so it seems odd to start complaining about it now.

Conversely, DBFZ looks amazing. I loathe the source material but there’s no denying it looks great. No question looking awesome is a good move if you want success in a fighting game. But again, some of the best loved games in the FGC look like trash and some of the coolest looking (SF3) were commercial failures.

Lol, you can keep getting mad all you want. The numbers don’t lie. MVCI sales were abysmal. Yes Chun Li’s face had a part in it. Same reason why Mass Effect A sales were super low. First impressions matter. Especially for AAA content.

And trying to name and shame people for causing a game series to die doesn’t do anything but reveal how scared some people are. Scared that they will have to adapt to change. I know its scary that the 1000 of hours you spent on a series or genre might of been for nothing. But business is business. Those old school bullys that used to make fun of gamers now play games themselves and unfortunately outnumber you guys. The demand has to be met.

MvCi sold a little over 700k copies and DBFZ sold about 1.3 million. So apparently the difference between your definition of “abysmal” and “runaway success” is pretty thin.

None of the rest of what you’re saying makes any sense at all, it’s just buzz words strung together incoherently. I’m not afraid of change and there’s no “naming and shaming.” All of the hours I’ve “invested” in fighting games have been a waste of time. That’s the point of playing video games. What I’m interested in is having a discussion about where the industry is headed and what current events mean for the future. You’re the one in here being all mad and thumping around about how awful MvCi is. So far your only support for that is Chun Li’s face and some weird and out of place cliches about “business” which suggest you know nothing about business and probably not much about MvCi. But make no mistake, I have no ■■■■■ to give about your opinion of MvCi one way or another. I would be thrilled if there was never anothe MvC game. I’m not a fan. But I won’t be thrilled if there the failure of MvCi leads to fewer fighting games in the future. And you don’t seem to have anything to say about any of that. So, duly noted. “Capcom suxz. MvCi was ■■■■■■■■. Something something, business!” Okay. We see your point. Thanks for your contribution.

1 Like

They actually did fix Chun Li’s face well prior to release IIRC, and it was widely acknowledged so I don’t think that specifically amounted to anything major. (Though other characters still had similar issues, like Dante.)

Max recently made a video about all the troubles MvCI faced, both before and after launch, and it’s worth checking out if you have time:

Thanks for the link. I’ve seen the video and although I don’t always agree with Max I think he’s a thoughtful guy and a real asset to the fighting game community at large.

It’s funny though because so many of the things are contrarian. The roster for MvCi can’t logically be both too similar to MvC3 while simultaneously not having enough of people’s old favorites. The solution to one is to build a roster with more new characters and the solution to the other is to always bring back all the same characters. I mean, what can they do?

Capcom clearly didn’t sell the game to the audience. But trying to extract the lesson from MvCi is really difficult.

I have always thought the better route was to head more towards the new and innovative characters rather then keeping with the same characters over and over. People need some variety, and sticking with too many old characters will leave people think it’s just some cheap reskin with a few additions.

I can certainly see the appeal of adding fan favorites, but maybe they could have began with a base roster with more new characters and maybe sprinkle some fan favorites along the way.

1 Like

Personally, I’m glad the X-Men were excluded from the initial lineup (yes I believe we will get more revealed later, probably at E3, shut up). I believe that the X-Men were over represented in past titles. The fact that we had obscure x-men characters like Spiral and Marrow before Thor was even in the game is appalling. We have not had a single spider-Man villain besides Venom. No other villains have been in the games at all (except Dr. Doom, and now Ultron thankfully). I don’t care how big they used to be. It’s MARVEL vs. Capcom. Not X-Men+ vs. Capcom. Now, excluding them all together is also a bad move, as they are still part of Marvel’s lineup and history. But I think a reduced presence from them is well warranted.

1 Like

If the old leaks were right, then I think we’re headed towards a pretty good balance. If they’re not, well then. I don’t know. We’re screwed I guess. But i’m Trying not to be pessimistic.