The last couple of years have been a very busy period when it comes to fighting games and the fighting game community (FGC). Whether you’re a champion, competitor, or casual fan, now might be the best time yet to start dipping your feet into the water of fighting games. But with the landscape being as packed as it is with games that do so many different things, whenever something new comes out, the questions of just how much of a success it can be, and what it needs to do in order to reach those levels, need to be asked. For every Dragon Ball Fighterz, there’s a Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite (which, mistreated and maligned though I think it was, unfortunately, isn’t what you could call a success).
So with Soul Calibur 6, the much-anticipated sequel/reboot of the weapon based fighter having come out recently, I talked to some players about what the game can do to succeed, the importance of community, and Reversal Edges.
One common thread in all of my conversations was that, for a game to really succeed, the community needs to be there for it, especially if a new game wants to have a lively competitive scene. Units sold is one thing, but that alone isn’t enough for a game to find a place in an FGC that’s becoming more and more crowded; Soul Calibur is the third major fighting game to come out this year alone. Iambic_feet, a fighting game player for TSN, said that “a game starts off very small on its own,” and that a community of die-hard fans, as well as the game reaching out to “communities that speak the same language” will allow it to find a place. For something like Soul Calibur, that means getting in the legacy fans, as well as drawing from a wider spectrum: the 3D fighting fan base of Tekken, and the newer fans that could be drawn in through the game’s guest characters, a tradition going back to Soul Calibur II. This time, the guest characters are Geralt from the Witcher series, and 2B, the protagonist of Nier: Automata. Newer, more casual players can often find the FGC to be something of an unforgiving place, and iambic_feet argued that fixing this is something can be done from both sides: while new players need to “dedicate their time to learning the game,” the old-school players should also be “more welcoming to newcomers and understand the fact that a new player does not know what they’re doing.”
The importance of a grassroots community presence, something that’s been a part of the FGC since its inception, was also echoed by Jonnitti, who said that for a game to succeed, it needs to “have a strong community presence, both in numbers at events, and on social media.” For him, it’s up to the players and fans themselves to make sure that the game can thrive, saying that it’s “up to the community to support content creators” on sites like Twitch. But a community alone isn’t enough for a game to succeed; developer support is becoming more and more necessary. Again, to compare Dragon Ball and MVCI, the former has had developer support from the beginning, including a pro tour circuit, where the latter was unfortunately left out to dry almost as soon as it came out. Party Wolf, a player for BxA, said that a game “game needs support from the developers to maintain general interest int heir games. You’ve seen cases with other fighting games where the series is really popular, but all of a sudden they move on to another project which makes the meta stale after a few years.”