What makes a game popular in tournaments?


EDIT: I should clarify that I mean popular TO PLAY. As in gets a lot of entrants. Not popular with spectators.

Since some people seem to think what gets played is a meritocracy, and others like to blame everything but the game itself for their game’s lack of a scene, let’s assess the many factors involved. These are just my opinions, of course.


**Brand Recognition **(and thus Sales)
Won’t ensure people will like your game, but will at least get people to try it, which is a huge step on the way to popularity. Seems like most people ended up not liking SFxT, but most people tried it. If SF4 or MvC3 had been released under different names they’d be nowhere near as popular as they are.

Accessibility/Casual Appeal
People, especially those who aren’t competitive, like to be able to do cool stuff in a game without much effort. If you have to put in work to do cool stuff, a lot of people lose interest. Many current competitive players probably wouldn’t be around now if SF4 had made it ST hard to do a DP.

Fun Factor
Obviously this is subjective on an individual basis, but we can observe general trends about the kind of games that the community as a whole tends to consider fun. All I got really is that fast-paced games where it’s easy to do stuff (ties in to Accessibility) tend to be favored. BlazBlue died a death despite having a significant pre-installed audience in the GG fanbase, and the pace of the game is a common complaint from GG fans. Skullgirls has a ton of people waiting on the patch to increase the game speed and reduce the length of combos. SF4 can hardly be called fast, but is at least significantly faster than SFxT which seems to have flopped.

It’s worth bearing in mind that a lot of games won’t even get a chance to prove their fun factor because people don’t give them a shot because of lack of brand recognition, or because you have to put in a little work to get to the point where the game flows well.

Massively important unless you’re so big that people can find people to play without it (MvC3 - though even that game would probably be more popular if it had good netcode). Netcode is likely why KOF isn’t significantly bigger than it is. Will definitely both get more people to buy your game and make them more likely to continue playing it.

A lot of people will play games that aren’t necessarily their favorite because that’s where the most competition is. There seems to be a threshold for game popularity, above which the game’s scene becomes self-perpetuating, constantly attracting new players to feed back into the system (SF4, MvC3) and below which a slow process of entropy eventually leads to the game’s inevitable competitive demise (BB, T6, MK9?).

Maybe Important?:

Evo Presence
Generally I think people play what they like. But in the case of people who play a lot of games and know they’re going to Evo, what games Evo decides to have may influence their decision to play one game over another. Probably it matters for top players, but they’re such a tiny percentage of the scene that they’re statistically irrelevant. Thought experiment: If Evo announced they were dropping MvC3, would people stop playing it? What about, say, KOF?

Not Important:

Community Opinion
I’m very skeptical of this one because it’s essentially non-falsifiable and offers players of less popular games a very convenient reason why nobody plays their game. I’m talking about the argument that “oh nobody plays this game because everyone else says it’s trash!” That kind of attitude is a little too cynical for my taste; I think most people are capable of making up their own minds as to whether a game is good or not. The argument that everyone agrees that a game is bad because everyone else does has a fundamental flaw: how did everyone come to believe that in the first place? Take DOA back when it was considered self-evident that DOA was trash. Did everyone agree on that because everyone else did, or did they agree on it because they honestly thought DOA was trash?

Top Player Opinion
Really a more specific subset of the above. I think people are capable of figuring out whether they like a game for themselves. People love citing the opinions of top players when arguing why a game is good/bad, but it doesn’t follow at all to assume that they’re seriously swayed by them.

Prize Money
The vast majority of the player base will never see any of that money. Games like DOA, VF5, MK9 and SC5 that have been included in eSports leagues have never been the biggest games. It’s just not an issue to most people.

I’m sure there’s more you guys can come up with but I’m tired of typing this now so have at it.


Netcode makes a game popular in tournaments? o_O


Kind of weird to me that anyone would think that isn’t obviously true. Anything that influences a game’s sales and how much people are playing it in general influences its popularity in tournaments.




Another thing I’ll add that I think is unimportant is System Mechanics/High Level Strategy. A lot of the attacks people make on games they dislike are pretty wrong, because they’re kind of feeling around for a technical way to explain their intuitive dislike of a game. There’s nothing wrong with disliking a game because it simply doesn’t feel fun to “do stuff” in - in fact I’d say making a game feel fun on a fundamental, intuitive level is one of the most important and difficult tasks a fighting game designer is faced with. But for some reason people have a hard time recognizing that this is why they really don’t like a game and instead reach for ill-thought-out attacks on its system.

Conversely, most people agree that TAC and X-Factor are stupid mechanics, but MvC3 still gets played because it’s just fun to do stuff in. And the “SFxT Defense Force” (snigger) misses the point when they try to argue for the game’s wealth of unexplored tech and strategy, because, regardless of the reasons people give, the real reason they dislike the game is because it simply feels intuitively bad to them


Without a doubt the hype…

UMVC3 = a lot of hype
SFxT = HAHA, no.

… and the fun-factor…

UMVC3 = a lot of fun to watch
SFxT = HAHA, zzzZzzZzzz.


Hype should not be any indicative if it’s a tournament game.

No, simply no.


Totally forgot about how fun the game is to watch but it’s definitely a significant factor in getting people into a game. For all Capcom does wrong (and I’m no fan of modern-day Capcom) SF4 and MvC3 are very entertaining to watch, which is probably a major reason why the SF4 and MvC3 scenes don’t suffer from the entropy that every other game does.


Nah it’s more like brand recognition, herd effect and not screw up 100 different things like SFXT. (I think the reasons people are not apologetic towards SFXT is because they don’t NEED it, when they already have 2 games. They will be apologetic towards those 2 games though.)

All the rest is a bunch of made up justifications. People will give you a specific reason why game 1 is bad, but will completely ignore the exact same thing while praising game 2.
Blazblue combos too long, but marvel is “fun” where a combo lasts real life 20 seconds in which you just sit and wait.
SF4 is “accessible” yet you have to grind links in training mode or you can’t really play the game.

No one would really admit “I just like to suck a specific company’s dick” and “For me the fun of the game doesn’t come from the game itself but to know many others are playing it as well” because it makes them look bad, so they’ll adopt various reasons to feel better about their decisions, but as far as behavior goes that’s exactly what people do.


Apparently the opportunity to shout and squeal like infants after nine bags of Skittles (or ‘hype’, if you’d rather - and I personally wouldn’t) is an important factor.

Don’t get me wrong, I like getting excited and vocalising my excitement as much as the next man. Particularly if I can include an entirely inappropriate obscenity without fear of prosecution.

What I find slightly odd is the suspicion that certain tournament-goers ejaculate wildly at any opportunity not because they want to, but because they’ve seen others do it and think it’s ‘what you’re supposed to do’ [S]when Marvel’s on[/S] at tournaments.

Perhaps I’m just grumpy, old, and get less excited than others, of course. And, as I say, I’ve nothing against people enjoying themselves loudly. It’s ‘fake hype’, or attempts to ‘manufacture’ atmosphere, that rub me up the wrong way. But whatever.

Also, SSFIVAE aside, a good way for a game to not be popular at tournaments is for me to like it (coughSCVcough). Or, at least, that’s how it seems.

I imagine me being actually good at a game would result in a global tournament ban. I can only assume that’s what’s happened with Exciting Hour:slight_smile:

(I was going to mention ‘character design’ as an ingredient but, on second thought, I suspect that mostly falls into ‘brand recognition’. A brand new IP with brilliantly designed and accessible characters, however, is gonna have an advantage over… I’m trying not to say Skullgirls here…)


And is that better or worse than adopting various reasons why people play games you don’t like to feel better about your decisions?


mvc3 has horrible netcode


Are the games themselves really as fun to watch as you claim? What if I gave you a totally random match, with no player name, no event name, no screaming crowd, etc. etc. remove all outer aspects of it and leave out only the “game itself”, would it be as fun to watch? Even if for you, it won’t be so for many other people.


Yeah netcode is a factor, but what people don’t realize is that at least half or more of the people that enter tournaments or play the game in general are just average players who can’t really tell what good or bad netcode is. To them as long as the game isn’t freezing or stalling they don’t really understand that there is lag. These same guys make up about 50 percent or more of the people who enter tournaments as well.

Even since the old days it was really the scrubs/pot monsters that held up the tourney scene. It’s just now they can do more arm chairing and watching from a computer.

Hype is just the new word for how many pot monsters/scrubs you have backing up your numbers for a tournament. Like Arturo said…without them you can’t build a large scene. What specifically gets them to gather to one game regularly for tourneys over another gets pretty picky…but they are very important for making a scene look lively.


It’s all tied together. Those games are very easy to comprehend at a basic level, which is what makes it easy for a large number of people to get excited about them. Look at the games that get hated on the most by stream chat: it’s the games that are harder to understand just from watching. The amount of stream chat hate a game gets is pretty much proportional to how hard it is to understand I’d say, with Tekken and VF at the top, followed by SC5, then MK9 and then anime games. SFxT of course being an exception because it’s just so dull and because hating on it has become a stream chat meme.


You make a good case for everything in the OP except this. You don’t have to look much further than Virtua Fighter, which has no meter besides life bars, only 3 buttons, an extremely generous input buffer window on everything, and generally easy execution for a lot of characters in its roster. Yet its reputation as an obscenely difficult game among people who have never played it persists.


You can remove all that, the most entertaining bits of the game will still say.
For Marvel 3: The X-Factor (like it or not), a team out of 3 characters with various assists, new technology on a daily basis, over the top action, great characters who are nearly all unique and so on.
Give me a random match with people that I don’t know, even if it’s fluid online play and even if there isn’t a screaming crowd and I’m going to enjoy that and be hyped for it - wait to see the usage of the X-Factor, the canceling, the countering and so on.

And SFxT? Currently probably the most boring fighting game out there, which was a part of EVO 2012 simply because it’s a Capcom game and it’s a damn good thing that we won’t see it next year. Maybe now Capcom won’t take everything for granted and finally start thinking about the products they try to sell.

You didn’t read the OP question. It’s about what makes games popular in tournaments and not what criteria should decide what games can get into the tournament.
And besides that, maybe you also don’t understand the concept. If you’re a pro player then you can have different reasons for playing and maybe even enjoying something.

If you’re someone in the audience then the hype and the fun-factor play a huge role, when it comes to the popularity of the games you want to see.
People want to be entertained. That’s the reason why you go to the cinema, why you go to the circus, why you watch MMA and other sports. You demand entertainment and some games are able to deliver while others are not, simply because there is less to be excited about.

That’s the reason why we won’t see SFxT anymore and that was a good decision by Mr. Wizard.


I think it just gets too convoluted to make a direct approach to why one game is gaining a lot of pot monsters and why another isn’t. You definitely need top players hyping it up…but past that it’s up to the picky decisions of everyone under the top players. Trying to break it down into specifics just really well never end anywhere specific.

As far as being fun to watch…SFIV isn’t universally accepted (at least with stream monsters) as a fun game to watch. There’s all kinds of names for it like Bore Fighter IV, Snore Fighter IV etc. The only time stream monsters really love watching the game anymore is when top level players are playing because there’s the hype from knowing their favorite player is playing a boring game and not just some guy.

UMVC3 so far seems to be the only game that stream monsters are convinced is fun to watch no matter what.


It’s true that if you can’t get people to actually play the game, as with VF, the talk surrounding it is going to be more influential. I was more thinking of SFxT, where its fans will insist that the game’s reputation is what’s killing its scene, ignoring the fact that most everyone has played the game and made up their own minds about it.


Regional scene.

What players at your tournaments enjoy, games they’re good at and continue with. Got to have someone to play, in person, & grow together with.

–Err, popularity and reasons TO’s put games in, it may not be a big part of either of those.