We are entering a new golden age of fighting games
The future is bright for fighting games, as they are selling better than ever. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Sold 27 million units this year. Mortal Kombat 11 was also a huge success, becoming the best-selling game in its first month. It continues to amaze years later.
These heights weren’t easily achieved, though, as questions about the fighting game genre came to a head during its seventh generation. Fans had many questions about online play quality between AAA titles and indie titles by the end of their PS3 and Xbox 360 lives. Discussions also centered around how these games affected player experiences.
Skullgirls, a title that was released at the end of the seventh generation console generation, showed the world rollback netcode was the future for online fighting games. It also demonstrated how important and in-depth a tutorial and training mode is for both newbies and veterans. The game explained the basics of the genre and allowed you to practice the moves. This was a love letter to fighter game fans and gave us a glimpse into the future of fighting games. The killer instinct launched in Xbox One and brought these features to the forefront.
Killer Instinct is notable because it was the first free-to-play fighting game. Although this aspect was not fully developed, it made up the majority of the game’s core and has only grown in popularity over the years.
Killer Instinct was a 1 on 1 fighting game that offered action-packed brawls. It combined mechanical execution with situational awareness in an impressive way and a unique combo breaker system. The poor reputation of the Xbox One at launch meant that Killer Instinct’s early years were severely underappreciated and not played by most fighting game enthusiasts.
This meant that the majority of eighth-generation titles would lose their quality. Street Fighter V’s disappointing launch was accompanied by titles from Arc System such as Guilty Gear Xrd or Granblue Fantasy: Versus that suffered from outdated online experiences. Dragon Ball FighterZ was another Arc System Works release. However, it had a strong presentation, user-friendly controls, and many gameplay modes. These features and the strong Dragon Ball brand helped to keep sales strong for years.
This video from Sajam in 2019 explains how the online experience impacts everyone who plays fighting games. This was when accessibility and quality online play became the focus of discussion. Few fighting games have as many user-friendly features as the ones that made this generation feel special. Street Fighter V’s launch content was not well received. This was especially true when it was compared to Mortal Kombat’s XL Patch, which smoothed out the online experience. You can also play Injustice 2 or Mortal Kombat 11 over the next few years.
We can see that these questions are leading us to what we could call a new golden age for the genre at the beginning of the ninth generation. AAA developers like Arc System Works, Capcom, and others have adopted principles of accessibility as well as high-quality online gaming. Guilty gear Strive won the Fighting Game of the Year award at The Game Awards. SNK and Netherrealm Studios have proven they don’t mind tuning up their fighters for this new wave of thinking.
Indie gaming is home to some of the most unique and innovative fighting games. Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid, a tag-team fight that features insane combos and Power Rangers flair, draws its inspiration from Marvel Vs. Capcom. Another indie title, Them’s Fighting Herds, retains the spirit of hardcore fighting games but has a My Little Pony-style cast of characters. Both titles have rollback net codes for seamless online play and excellent training modes.
We are now at today. The glimpses of the future that we have seen have been amazing.