Mortal Kombat 11 has now been out for a couple of weeks and is another testament to the power of the franchise. It is visually appealing, polished, and at its core, has released with great potential for the competitive esports scene. At this point, where do the other franchises go from here to dethrone the King of Kombat?
We're going to be taking a look at a few of the biggest franchises here: Street Fighter, Tekken, Marvel vs Capcom, and Dragon Ball FighterZ, among others. Specifically, we are going to look at the best and the worst to come from some of these games in recent history.
Street Fighter V: Oversimplification and disrespecting your competitive fan base
A recent point of contention and frustration with the Street Fighter series appeared at the launch of Street Fighter V. In the newest installment of the series, players found themselves dealing with a newly implemented eight frames of input lag on the Ps4, while PC players were able to play at four frames of input lag, which is far closer to what most games offer, and what Street Fighter IV was designed around. For those unfamiliar with what input lag is, it refers to either the delay between the screen receiving a signal and it being displayed on the screen, or the delay between pressing a button and seeing the game react. Put simply, Street Fighter V has some of the highest input lag of the competitive scene.
If you are unfamiliar with the specifics of input lag, see the video below for a detailed summary of exactly how it is measured and came to be an issue, as well the various speculative reasons as to why this route was taken (Note that some NSFW language appears in the video from a passionate presenter on the subject).
A major consequence, intentional or not by the developer, is that the game has become more offensive in nature. This makes it difficult to punish combo whiffs, jump in attack, and in general, to use reactive characters like Guile in their traditional sense. Is this the new long-term vision for the Street Fighter series, or is it a short-term attempt to garner more exciting tournaments by forcing aggro styles of play, pushing out those competitors who spent years honing a reactive playstyle? We won't know until we see where the franchise goes from there, but for now, the impact on the competitive scene remains somewhat negative as long-time players either shift their strategies altogether, or walk away from the game to other franchises that are more dependable and consistent. While everyone wants to see legendary finishes in tournaments, not everyone wants to see the game shift in this direction, fragmenting the fans away to other games.
Tekken 7: How much more does it have to offer?
Tekken 7 is without a doubt a great game. It is also now more than four years since its initial release, while being on its ninth DLC pack. How much more new material does the game have to offer? The internal development team is also asking these questions, as there seems to be an issue of conflicting interests with the development if Tekken X Street Fighter. That game has been in development for years, but is on hold now, as creating a game in the same style as Tekken 7 would cannibalize sales and split the community. Regardless of how one feels about that game ever being released, the clock is ticking and Tekken 7 will run out of material sooner rather than later.
Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite - How to destroy something beautiful
We will not dwell on this game for too long, as the latest iteration of a once great series has been plagued with issues since well before its release. Its current form is uninspired, and it is a cross-over game with a tiny roster of characters, for which an infamously poor explanation was given that fans should not think of the game as missing Magneto, but happy that Nova is available because she serves the same function. That about sums it up: characters as a function is almost the most robotic, soulless, and out of touch explanation that one can give as to why your favorite character might be missing from the game, which began as a celebration of two universes colliding into battle. Suffice to say that here is a franchise that could do so well as a candidate to dethrone Mortal Kombat 11, if only the developers could detach themselves from silly marketing tie-ins to movies and go back to the heart of what made this series so fantastic in the first place.
Dragon Ball FighterZ: Emulate this game for success
Shortly after the release of the disappointing Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, fans were greeted to an unexpected surprise in Dragon Ball FighterZ. It is not that anyone thought the game would do poorly, as initial footage and game play looked solid, it is simply that people were pleasantly surprised to see how a game could be hectic to watch, but also exhilarating and beautiful in terms of fan service. As the game also requires the selection of three fighters for your team, similar to the original games from the Marvel vs Capcom series, it is not hard to see why the game has blown up in popularity. Dragon Ball FighterZ is a perfect recipe for success, and one that the previously mentioned games may want to consider in their future installments if they are to keep up with Mortal Kombat 11.
Fan service in Mortal Kombat done right - Freddy, Jason, and Aliens, oh my!
Some of the best DLC for the Mortal Kombat series has to be the unexpected, but well-implemented addition of characters that no one expected (or asked for), but loved to see. Having Jason and Freddy performing fatalites was something that gamers never knew they needed, and now, something similar would be a welcome addition in the newest installment of the game.
In closing, there is much that can be done within each franchise to keep the game relevant in the competitive esports scene for years to come, but at the end of the day, a common theme among them all is that respecting the player and the fans pays off. How each franchise chooses to continue may often be decided upon by some faceless suits, hunched over financial projections for their expectations of sales, but if recent history is any indicator of the future (it is), that fundamental level of respect is how to most effectively maximize sales and long-term player dedication to a franchise.