What lead to the decline of 3D Fighting games?


Good morning/afternoon,

as the title suggests, I’m curious as to why 3D fighting games have died out, excluding Tekken of course.

Games like Soul Caliber, Virtua Fighter, and DOA (Might be wrong on this one.) seem to have fallen in popularity massively, and I’m interested as to why.

Thank you for your time, have a good one.


General Theories:

  1. All new incoming Western fighting game players being indoctrinated into Capcom patronage at the start of Seventh Generation.

  2. Lack of comparable graphical superiority to other titles of the time.

  3. Older players dropping out due to life reasons or losing interest in new direction of franchises.

  4. Being made almost exclusively in Japan during a time when HD transition was struggled with.

  5. More Eastern flavors incompatible with Western tastes being instilled in Japanese multimedia.

*Some apply to 2D fighters as well.

**Soul Calibur II was well known and liked. Soul Calibur III was resented due to beta quality (on PS2) and exclusivity. Soul Calibur IV had a mixed reception with content reduction and stiff and unbalanced gameplay. Soul Calibur V turned everything the franchise was known for on its head to cater to Capcom players.

***Virtua Fighter never took off in the West due to poor Western Sega Saturn debut and a cheaper alternative in the arcades and consoles that gained notoriety for its presentation (i.e. Tekken). Virtua Fighter 4 was a cult hit in the West, but 5 fell flat due to lack of online in its PS3 debut and lack of casual content. SEGA’s shrinking arcade and console software market kept them from updating hardware which the franchise was historically used to show off. The departure of the head people from the franchise’s past was also likely a factor.

****Dead or Alive in general is niche due to its risque direction. Dead or Alive 2 was impressive for its time and available on a variety of platforms so it was well critically recieved and garnered sales based on that alone. The future sequels prior to 5 were only available for Xbox owners, largely without interest in fighting games so their market was limited. Dead or Alive 5 was poorly received on its debut from fans, but according to some sources Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate hit a new sales milestone for the franchise. There has not been much enticing new players after that.

*****Tekken Tag 2 sold far below expectations and it falls upon Tekken 7’s Western release to determine the investment Bandai Namco will put into the future of the franchise.

******In all cases new iterations are necessary to keep the franchises going, but large investments from parent companies into franchises outside of Tekken have not been forthcoming.


I don’t really know. Hopefully they come back in fashion. I hear that they’re making Virtua Fighter 6 and SoulCalibur 6, and I’m also making my own if all goes well. I doubt it’ll compete with those ones though…


Now, where have I seen this topic before…?

[details=Spoiler]Where Did the 3D Fighters Go?



Every single Soul Calibur game has had issues that ruined the game for high level play. Even SCII became a turtle fest thanks to unintended glitches such as Step Guard.

This, combined with the fact that they have a split fanbase between those who want to play it competitively, and those who’re just in it for the CAS shenanigans, is likely the reason why SC has never had a lasting competitive presence.

I don’t get where this is coming from. From what I’ve seen on the core DOA sites such as FSD, DOA5 was very much well received. At the very least much better received than the travesty that was DOA4. Probably the best received DOA at the time behind 3.1. The only main issue in vanilla 5 at high level play was the prevalence of “Force Techs” that made the game heavily offense based by forcing knocked down opponents to tech, creating true 50/50 situations by eliminating other wake up options (high and low wake up kicks).

If anything, what held DOA5 back was more the series reputation, but despite that, it still has a healthy competitive scene that’s second only to Tekken when it comes to 3D fighters worldwide.


PPL are just too comfortable with 2d. They get on a 3d game get owned and give reasons like “the game feels too slow”, “I dont like the graphics”.
There have been some pretty stupid stuff in past 3d games yes, but ive had fun with all the 3d games, especially Tekken.

DOA is a cool series i guess but it gets more attention due to the female coverage of that game, its not a super deep fighter at all.


There’s a lot of footwork in 3D games that people never do, which is just one of the many under-the-hood aspects about 3D fighters.

Plenty of 2D heads have a hard time stepping, or don’t like the idea of it.



  1. The competetive scene for Soul Calibur II revels in the 2G glitch, however, the discovery of Hilde’s Ring Out combo killed the competitive scene for Soul Calibur IV. Soul Calibur 1 had something similar with Lizardman, but it was never competitive.

  2. I have yet to see anything in Soul Calibur III: Arcade Edition that is problematic unlike other entries in the franchise.

  3. Perhaps I should have specified that initially the fan response was mixed and has grown more negative over time for the original Dead or Alive 5.

  4. Compared to Dead or Alive 2 the lifetime sales of Dead or Alive 5 are at least half a million lower.

  5. In contrast to the original release, Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate added content, had a free-to-play version (3.5m downloads), and had an arcade debut in Japan expanding its playerbase. Its assortment of DLC was also very profitable for Tecmo Koei.


@NeverYouMind Except you are still wrong on a single part:

While yes, DOA5 was not COMPLETELY well received(@D3V there are still some Itagaki fanboys around who believe only he can do DOA and NG right and the vanilla game…did try to play the Tekken game a little too much in terms of stage variety), it was still more well-received compared to other titles in the series.

And while yes DOA5 Ultimate was a massive improvement and the start of DOA’s newfound popularity, that doesn’t take away from Vanilla’s own accomplishments of making a true competitive game out of DOA.

Maybe you should play DOA5 before you say it isn’t deep. Because it makes you look ridiculous.


I am likely wrong about Dead or Alive 5’s initial success because one of my sources is a friend that loves Itagaki’s work. Personally, I find DoA too floaty, too mashy, and too fast when it comes to characters that spin like tops. I am also very unfond of critical stun’s implementation and constant reversals breaking combo flow from my experience with earlier installments. Movement is too loose and limited for my liking. Dead or Alive being a weak derivative of Virtua Fighter with added lewdness makes me avoid it.


I can understand that the idea, on paper, does looks bleak for the offense and might give you the idea that no matter how well you do in offense you are one right guess from losing, and from what people say that was what happened with DOA4. That said, once you play some matches you find out that it is way overstated: the holding player has to guess right from 4 possible inputs, he also has to time it well and then there’s the chance the offensive player goes for a throw and punishes with 30%+ damage. The overall result is that, in situations with one player is on the defense or on critical stun, the offensive player is very favored. A lot of the time it is better to spin the stick and go back to blocking or, if you are playing against a back hold masher, hit-wait-hit again for undetermined damage. Holds do their job of keeping players from getting predictable without dominating the game.

IMO, it is way more annoying to face people mashing DPs on Street Fighter than someone doing the holds in DOA5. There’s absolute no way around DPs but to totally stop the offense and give the opponent the initiative, while you can always craft a plan to go on full offense on DOA while dodging possible counters.


Why are you bringing DOA2 into the discussion when the previous competitive standard is DOA3.1 (Japan version of DOA3)? Especially when we’re talking about legit competitive installments. 3 was the one that solidified the competitive DOA scene.

Also, DOA’s flow is more like a 3D mix of 3rd Strike and KI. IMO, counter holds are better implemented than KI combo breakers since they’re much easier to bait out and punish. In fact, they’re pretty much discouraged at high level play in 5 due to this. In any case, the critical stun system is interesting because it promotes system and character knowledge over rote memorization.


More people are familiar with Dead or Alive 2 is why I bring it up. I do not care about the franchise or the competitive scene. The system design and characters are not my cup of tea. Stuns make any game more boring due to making a game more potentially one sided. Reversals have their place if there is a steep balance of risk and reward like Virtua Fighter, otherwise they become a nuisance as in DoA. I get that DoA can’t really limit that aspect because its strings flow like diarrhea by design and that is a large part of why I do not like it.


Probably everybody trying to make their own Virtua Fighter/Battle Arena Toshinden/Tekken in the 90’s and it didn’t stop until the PS2 era.


1.5m with 1.7m as a target for the first year isn’t “far below expectations”, is it?
It came short, yup - but compared to recent other titles it wasn’t that bad.


It did poorly enough to warrant a free-to-play variant. The 1.5m is also copies shipped not sold, not to mention 1.7m was a revised goal. I would rather not discuss it any further since it rubbed me the wrong way.


Then the hell are you doing in a site dedicated to discussing fighting games competitively?

What I don’t get is when people say a subjective opinion (e.g. not my cup of tea) and then go on passing arguments for that opinion as objective.

Honestly, while this “I don’t like this game therefore it must be bad” negatively affects the whole FGC, it gets particularly bad with the 3D games, keeping the sub-genre from innovativing and expanding.

Imagine if the same mentality was more prevalent in 2D and people didn’t like BB, or GG because they had bursts, that were necessary because “combos flow like diarrhea” in those games.

Tekken would have gotten a free to play version regardless of sales. This was a period in time where Bamco was experimenting with free to play variants of a lot of their classic franchises.


Any one that consumes something for long enough develops a taste. That taste does not have to conform to any ideology. It is a personal preference that in no way, shape, or form should directly affect the opinion of others. If individuals choose to follow the herd like a lemmings that is their own choice. The stigma around having a differing opinion that in no way, shape, or form causes harm to others is idiotic.

Individuals have their own reasons for not liking BlazBlur and Guilty Gear Xrd and I see no reason for why they should invest in something they do not like. The only objective issues by which games can be judged are technical issues that impact functionality.


So if you don’t care about the series overall, why should you stake your opinions at all in something you know nothing about?

Even your latest post really does nothing overall to actually explain why you feel the need to talk about a series you ultimately know nothing about? And no, actually LESS people are familiar with DOA2 due to the overall success of DOA5 and it’s F2P counterpart and the massive year difference when they was released.

Even what you say about why you feel Holds aren’t even something that actually makes sense. DOA only has “strings” as a technicality, you’ll never actually use strings due to the fact that ultimately, they are too predictable. You are pretty much gotta play free form similarly to Killer Instinct. Even then, you can easily bait out holds for stronger than normal grabs or continue a combo that otherwise would never happen. There’s even Stagger Escape which is also an option when you don’t want to spam holds and fail every time.

Basically your point of having something color your perception for so long does not explain trying to speak about something you know nothing about. I have played LOTS of fighting games. Not all of them to the point to being a master but knowing on some level how the meta can work. THAT is how you should try to make yourself first before talking about things you don’t know about so atleast you can be labeled as slightly ignorant or still being green rather than someone talking out of their ass.
Food for thought.