The death of fighting games… A personal journey that hopefully can help MvC:I?


Do we want to understand why fighting games lost their top-tier popularity over the years? As a self-avowed fighting game advocate, addict and promoter I dedicated years of my life promoting fighting games. From Street Fighter in the 80’s arcade, running tournaments in the arcades in the early 90’s I continued to build a scene for fighting games for over 20+ years. Personally building from the ground-up or involved in over 100+ tournaments produced over the course of those multiple decades.

Today I played MvC3 on PS4 and would rather played a FPS…. How low have I sunk? Did I leave fighting games or did fighting games leave me? I hope MvC:I can change things…

I know developers, players, and even I have a hard time understanding how fighting games left me and why many people prefer other games to fighters. And I worry for my first-true-love of gaming, fighting games, that they continue down a path unsure how to solve the two issues I keep addressing, player-accessibility and player-stickiness.

As I played MvC3 I wondered to myself, why? Why would I rather play a FPS right now? Because I want to help fix it for our beloved genre fighting games. Can we talk respectfully to one another to explore this taboo issue? Because if we can figure it out for myself perhaps we can help fix it for fighting games. I’m no different than your average joe, and the reason I wanted to play another game was really simple.

This was the reason why I turned off MvC3 and went to a FPS:

I was frustrated that I could not access the moves I wanted.

Ya see on a FPS I want to shoot, it happens. I want to perform a super-move it happens. I want to run it happens.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played on a joystick for decades for fighters. I also played on a PAD for the past couple of years to get used to it.

MODERN-DAY players who purchase a console 99.999% of them are not sold with an arcade stick. Sorry to break the news to us, 99.999% of the population plays on a PAD. And fighting games that sell 1 million copies 80% of those copies over 800K are the everyday players like me. We are never going to compete at high level tournaments. However we want to have fun at the game.

No fun when you can’t access the move you want.

Fighting games don’t exist in a vacuum, they have to compete against other game offerings, such as FPS, strategy games etc. And the offering is that other games allow the 80% of everyday-players the ability to access the move they want to perform.

Most responses I get when I talk to hardcore players is, well fighting games will never be able to lower the bar of player-accessibility. Sorry you have to learn the complex inputs to play that is the BASICS of fighting game play. Part of the game is the skill to perform the move (Yes for the hardcore but not for us everyday-video-game-players the 80% that buy the game) Or hardcore players try to make the argument something its not, that is im not trying to change the game for the hardcore, I’m trying to include the modern players of todays world. Trying to expand the appeal of our game to new people, but the hardcore just won’t have it.

Ok. You win hardcore. Fighting games will continue their high player-accessibility bar, and I’ll just move on to games that welcome me and the modern players of today world. We as a community of FGC are going to continue to loose players to games that are more accessible.


It’s especially sad because I’m SURE developers want to sell more copies, in a perfect world developers would have a perfect offering. That perfect offering would be a product for the hardcore tournament players and the everyday-players such as me.

And this perfect offering can be achieved! There is no single silver bullet. However a robust feature-offering that enables everyday players access to the moves they want to perform easily can be included at no expense to the hardcore tournament players.

Can we not be obtuse about the ability to have two competent offering in the same game? Many games today have a PvP offering and a campaign offering, such as The Last of Us, Call of Duty, Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid… But fighting games now just cater to the PvP aspect and no PvE offering.

It’s not all negative, fighting game companies realize that a healthy PvP environment has to be continually nourished, new additions, updates, new characters. A step in the right direction to be sure! However ignoring the PvE aspect, no campaigns (NAMCO used provide campaigns), and these PvE aspect also need to continually nourished… However this is not even been conceptualized for fighters in the modern world. It’s like talking about a aliens, not even a real concept to people and if you talk about it your crazy!


Am I the only one that feels that some important aspects of fighting games are stuck in the past? That some of these aspects are not even addressed? Such as:

Simple-mode was a step in the right direction for MvC3, but it did not go far enough. Stylish mode for Guilty Gear was the step in the right direction but it did not go far enough. (Yes macros for special moves should be allowed for everyday-video-game players/casuals) NAMCO used to offer side scrolling “campaigns” for their fighting games… no longer. Competing for high-scores used to have a level of fun and respect. Survival mode was a fun challenge and could be improved. (But computer A.I. is never addressed to be built upon and improved) And my biggest gripe of all fighters never developed a team aspect that could laser-focus a solution for “player-stickiness” that again is alien to the community and the genre. Fighters used to be progressive in new features, but now give the hardcore exactly what they want, scared to try something so new and radical that it offends the hardcore and thus hurts their product.

I write this as a hopeful fan, enthusiast, a person who loves fighting games and I know if positioned better fighters can have a revival!

I have answers to these problems, so do other people in development, and other people in the community. I would hope this just gets the discussion going.

This is not an attack on the hardcore, I consider myself hardcore for over 20+ years… but the things that drew me to fighters, specifically progressive additions to game-play and progressive features, are no longer the normal, they are the dinosaurs. Today it’s only about the PvP aspect, an aspect I will continue to enjoy and play. But I do so with my eyes wide open to how other products on the market are providing solutions and features that broaden the appeal and deepen the game beyond just the deep game-play mechanics.

Please don’t hate, I don’t hate, or go ahead and hate, that’s fine too. Because sometimes things don’t change unless there is a fight. Hopefully this at least will have discussion and help change things somewhere out in the ethos… that ethos being MvC: Infinite. As they are obviously trying to solve the player-accessibility issue, I say to that bravo.


you could just play another fighting game


Thank you. Your proved my point EXACTLY. Hardcore mindset is basically “If you don’t like it than leave”…

And many people like us are doing EXACTLY that, we are leaving. But it doesn’t have to be that way, the development of the game can be inclusive to both hardcore players and casual players, and nothing is wrong with that, actually it would make a better product and better environment.

Thank you for proving my point… I’m not sure FGC can get past the small minded thinking IMHO.

Thanks for the response.


Different individuals want different things from a fighting game.
Some want a brand name, some want competition, some want accessibility, some want visual flare, and others want a gameplay design or theme that gels with them.
I want a straight forward game with martial arts and good music that is easy on the eyes.
MKX, Shaolin vs Wutang, and KoF XIV lean in that direction. Figure out what you want.


What I hope to touch upon is the universal want that our favorite genre and favorite game grows in popularity.

This can be done by IMHO by addressing two specific areas fighting games are largely behind other genres, that is “player-accessibility” and “player-stickiness”


I happen to like inputting complex commands for special moves. I love me a good Gamma Ray.

What I don’t like is console companies making bad dpad designs (most the time too big) that make it so I mess up the inputs, or that to get a good stick I apparently need to toss $100 + at a store.

That’s a problem with hardware makers though, not software makers. Complex commands in fighters are where it’s at.


Lol. I totally agree with you, I love complex inputs especially in an arcade stick… I grew up in the arcade it feels so good.

However I’m aware that we are the 20% minority, the niche hardcore. And no one, me, you, developers would not look to change that for us.

But we need to have a honest open discussion about the casual 80% that buys the product, how can the game support both?

And it can support both, that’s what this post hopes to help build awareness around.


Have you ever thought about the possibility that this shit isn’t “too complicated” and that you are just too damn lazy


Way too much overthinking in this post. When I sucked at doing moves as an 8 yr old, I stayed on the Arcade cabinet practicing motions until I had them down. It takes but a few mins to go to Training Mode and learn stuff, but in the instant gratification era, everyone wants to be pulling off complex combos with the press of a button. If games continue to “make the system more accessible”, it’ll reach a point where games stop being fun.

Honestly, some fighting games just aren’t for certain people. That’s not a knock. It’s just being real.


Fighting games can’t compete with FPS or MOBA, is a lost battle. And the reason isn’t the complexity of the controls, but the fact they are team games. Your teammates can carry you and, if they don’t, you can always blame them for your losses. Counter Strike, for example, is a team based FPS that’s actually very hard to learn. You must not only have a very good aim, but also must know the best statrategies because the game punishes your mistakes really hard. Yet, it’s one of the most played games, competing with free to play games in terms of popularity, like Dota or LoL.

So, no. No amount of simplified inputs will make more people be suddenly interested in fighting games. Take Rising Thunder as an example. One button specials, simple mechanics, free to play game… this sounds a perfect formula to bring a lot of new players, right? Wrong. Online became a wasteland after few weeks. Casuals still got frustrated by simple tatics like tick throws and zoning and left. There’s no way you can simplify the game to the point anyone can compete with little investment without making the game utter shit.

I agree that the companies should try to get new players, and the best method is adding more single player contents (arcade, story, survival, etc). Smash Bros and Mortal Kombat already do this, and I would like to see more games follow this path of robust single player experience. That’s how you bring new people to the game without pissing your FG hardcores.


It is’nt about me. I’m going to be playing reguardless.

It’s about leveraging a “player-accessibility” position to grab players early on, and slowly develop them into our communities.

Just giving up the position of easy-access to the game, to other games puts us at the loosing end of the stick.

I want to fight to keep those players, otherwise I feel the position you suggest is specious.


Great post I really like this one. Very honest, brings in an important concept to address. That being the idea that:

‘you have to take time to learn a fighting game complex inputs. That’s just part of the game.’

We need to challenge this idea. If this idea is correct, it will stand after we throw rocks at it.

Why should it take it take time to learn the complex inputs for the Casual player? Many games already have simplified inputs (choose you game) but the depth is found in the timing, proper judgement calls, and the strategy. Hours and hours can be plunged into developing and sharpening timing, judgement, and strategy these other aspects of the game can be the beginning focus of casual players.

After time if they want to graduate to complex inputs to partake in tournament play then they can take that step. We should feed them milk before we feed them the meat.

That’s just the on the surface a solution. We could explore how this would only be a “Simple-mode” offering. Or perhaps moves that have a macro do half damage, or ruin the damage-multiplier. However those are rabbit holes.

Again the point being the majority of casual players are being ignored for the hardcore.

It’s not a zero sum development only for one or the other.

We can support both.


The simple answer is: you don’t really like fighting games and we don’t really have a good way of making you like them.

Sorry it has to be that way.


You just have to try to find the fun in learning new things. At one point, I hated going into Training Mode to learn how to punish or react to stuff in SF4. Know what’s funny, though? I eventually began to find more fun in the game because it opened up my eagerness to learn more things. I don’t expect that mindset to resonate with most casual players, but I also know not *every *casual player is the same and can see where I’m coming from.

Some slowly become hardcore with enough exposure. We weren’t born as hardcore or casual players; it’s an adapted trait. You can be a casual and still have a deep understanding of the battle system.

Capcom is putting a strong emphasis on the fun factor and single-player (Story, Arcade, etc) content this time around. I’m quite sure there’ll be a well-detailed tutorial along with a return to a “Simple Mode” sorta system this time around. A lot of people look down on casuals, but I personally welcome them to the scene. Helping them get more acquainted with fighting games in general is something I’ve done and enjoy. I want the scene to grow. I just don’t want this to always have to be at the expense of the battle system needing to constantly be dumbed down in hopes of roping them in. Some things are just worth taking on regardless of the potential difficulty in it.


To be honest, this part isn’t such a bad idea. I’ve been toying with the idea of a “panic button” special in my head for the fighting game engine I’m making. I think that there needs to be a quick bar-using move to go to if you just can’t pull anything else off. Maybe taking the place of a Burst, and you can only use it once a round, or match. I’d like to see that in a game, I know BlazBlue Calamity Trigger had it so you could tilt the right stick to do a super. I’d prefer a “panic super” to a “Stylish Mode” anyway.

But, with all that said, most of what you’re saying is “Let’s take the fun out of fighting games for the people who don’t like fighting games.”


I challenge the idea that Fighters can’t compete with FPS or MOBA’s. It not addressing the issue very well if we purely focus on the one aspect of --Complexity of the input controls-- because the issue of “player-accessibility” is more in-depth than a single-silver-bullet. As I said in the OP, no silver bullet for the issue of “player-accessibility” however a suite of solutions would do well if properly positioned.

In that suite of solutions to solve the issue, it would include a multitude of solutions one being a improved “simple-mode” as I’ve been suggesting, it should also include other solutions as you suggest, story survival etc.

But you touch upon something even more critical IMHO. That would be the team aspect of MOBA and FPS.

I guess we, the FGC community, is just going to concede and give-up that other games have better “player-accesibiltiy” and MOBA’s and FPS are the only genre’s that can offer a team aspect?..


Where is the fight in us? Where is the creativity in our developers?! Where is it that we the consumer and fans want more for one another and more from our wonderful developers?

We should be asking for a TEAM-ASPECT to be added. It would be part of the suite of solutions to address player-accessibility but more importantly TEAM-ASPECTS affect what the industry calls “Player-Stickiness”

I really wanted to stear away talking about how fighting games, an individual game of skill, can grow to include team-competitive aspects. Because it’s hard enough to get players to recognize what player-accessibility is and why we need to address it more directly.

Because TEAM-ASPECTS can be developed for FGC that honor both the individual-player and it honors a team competition. We are not the first game/sport in human history that needs a solution to provide team-solutions to an individual-game-of-skill.

Games/sports that have solved this issue in the past are Olympic gymnast and international chess tournaments.

For the FGC a “Monrad Swiss Style Tournament” would allow us to incorporate TEAM-PLAY while honoring individual skill.

I’m going to back off fully addressing “Player-Stickiness” at the moment. Because it deserves an entire thread on its own.

For the moment I’m just going to continue to focus on building awareness that we need to more to include more people into our community, AKA “Player-Accessibility”


This response falls into the category of:

Your proved my point EXACTLY. Hardcore mindset is basically “If you don’t like it than leave”…

And many people like us are doing EXACTLY that, we are leaving. But it doesn’t have to be that way, the development of the game can be inclusive to both hardcore players and casual players, and nothing is wrong with that, actually it would make a better product and better environment.

Thank you for proving my point… I’m not sure FGC can get past the small minded thinking IMHO.

Thanks for the response.


If it’s a team thing you’re looking for you could try the Cerebrawl demo thingy. It’s a 4 player 2v2 game:
I’m curious to see how it’ll work out. I love the team aspect of Gundam VS Gundam.

Also, if you want a “fighting game” without complex inputs you could try Smash, Brawlhalla, or Code: Hardcore when it comes out. Smash and Brawlhalla might not be true fighting games, but they are fun and might be just what you’re looking for. They also have a team aspect to them.


Great response!

I agree!

And the great thing we can cater to a casual audience and not make the hardcore suffer because of it.

As you mention simple-mode did not make the hardcore suffer. Simple-mode just needs to be improved and needs to go farther. Simple-mode should include macros to do special moves. (They could do 1/4 the damage, or hurt the damage-multiplier) what ever to make it palatable.

Overall I think you and I are on different paths, but see the end destination of finding more ways to include people into our mist is a good thing and not a bad thing.


Who the fuck cares?

I didnt read after this quoted sentence btw…