How important is the spectator experience in fighting games?


We’re in a time now where nearly every franchise has a fighting game worth playing on a competitive level. Of course, the last handful of years have given way to streams and whatnot. But I find it interesting that games that have a positive spectator reputation (or have hype moments at majors) are the games that people seem to gravitate towards.

From what I’ve seen…
KoF XIII is living off the excitement that the casual viewing audience (aka the 90% of people who probably don’t play the game) feed off of. Interestingly, this was the factor that appealed to me about KoF several years ago (well before XIII) so it doesn’t surprise me the least bit.
BB:CP is recognized as a huge improvement in the pacing and it seems to be reflecting into the stream audience.
People weren’t too fond of SSF4:AE-vYunIsOP (of course 2012 fixed this).
DoA5U’s showing at TFC left a positive impression on the game and was quite a surprise to many considering DoA’s reputation as a competitive fighter (and as a franchise in general).

On the contrary…
Both MK and Injustice… while they are recognized as great “video games,” people aren’t that interested in watching them as competitive fighters (Injustice appears to be improving in this aspect though).
SFxT is now a good fighting game… that’s painful drag to watch (according to the mass public).
I still haven’t played KI3. I take people’s word for the game being fun (having played KI1 and all), but the viewing audience isn’t too fond of the game.
3D fighters in general don’t quite provide the same anticipation as 2D fighters.
What if Marvel wasn’t as “hype” as it was… would people still mindlessly flock towards the game?

To make my final point, we all know that the “Daigo Parry Moment” more or less made 3rd Strike. Considering how most people view 3S, what happens if that moment is removed from history?

In other words, it sounds like a silly question, but is “hype” a factor going to contribute to what games succeed (in the long run) going forward? I mean, catering to the fans is of utmost importance when it comes to audience satisfaction. Not to mention streaming is advertisement for games in it’s own way… good showings can compel people to pick up certain games.

Finally, I know this is all subjective, but as we all know, some opinions are more “powerful” than others.


Increasingly more and more for better or worse imo. Stream viewers/monsters have much more sway and power along with Eventhubs fans and people who simply don’t play fighting games at a competitive level.Look at the massive amount of votes for the Capcom Cup, the ESGN and these increasingly viewer focused events that are giving the viewer more power. I think it’s cool but there has definitely been a shift in power.

Also, cool stuff on the screen attracts eyes. VF is commonly called boring because it’s pretty much a semi-realistic fighting game with no fireballs, electric uppercuts, etc.


People don’t like to admit it, because it makes them look and/or feel shallow and superficial, but what the gameplay looks like actually is really important in getting people to play the game. If the game doesn’t look fun to play, then it’s going to take something else to convince you that it is fun to play. Speaking from a personal level, I’ll freely admit that for the fighting games I’m currently invested in, I started playing them because I saw cool things happening on screen and I thought, “Wow, that looks cool. I want to do those cool things.” Which leads to me trying to improve myself as a player because I want to get to the level where I can do those cool things.

It’s not like this is a new phenomenon. Did people first get into SF2 because they instantly saw the nuanced fighting mechanics and strategy in the gameplay? No, of course not. They played it because they saw a man with a headband throwing blue fire at an electrified green monster and thought “That looks awesome. I want to do that.”


The spectator experience has always been important, even back in the day when looking good helped get people onto cabs. For the most part however, folks don’t want to admit this because it sounds shallow.


The spectator experiences is important now, but that’s not the reason people aren’t interested in Injustice/MK9/SFxT. It’s because a lot of people think they just aren’t good games. They don’t want to watch or play them.


The community plays a big part too. The thing that really holds back 3D fighters and anime fighters is the relatively small communities behind them. If no one you know has played/heard of a certain game, why would you bother caring about the series? People feel a strong identification with SF and Marvel because of how large the community is for those games. As much as people mock MK/Injustice, those games still have better stream/video counts than 3D fighters and anime fighters, with maybe the exception of Tekken. Even then, Tekken only gets as much recognition as it does because it has the largest community of the 3D fighter genre.


There’s very few games that are as spectator friendly as those within the Fighting game genre.

Even something with as much spectator tools Starcraft 2 has by now, it’s still isn’t anywhere close to as simple and effective as having 2 characters on a screen, all the resources shown, both players and their interactions all at the same time.


I don’t see how this is true at all. The game is mostly living off its Mexican and Korean strongholds. Outside of Evo, it’s not that popular of a stream event. High Evo viewership is more because of schedule conflicts in 2012 that caused people to tune in and they got excited because of the crowd. The people that play KoF are doing it because they like the game.

It’s true that a stream can introduce a game to players who would otherwise have no exposure to it, especially if the commentator manages to explain what is going on without talking down to the viewer. Unlike what was mentioned above, this isn’t shallow, this is normal. That said, that’s not what happens with stream monsters. Stream monsters replace games with watching games, streams have the opposite effect for them.

Every time somebody tries to talk up streaming as important to the livelihood of a game, the first thing that comes to my mind is always Starcraft 2. SC2’s community and organizers easily placed streaming as its top priority, and the game is still on the fast track to only being played by a significant number of people in Korea. Just like SC:BW.