Friday, December 06, 2013
This generation of home consoles has seen fighting game releases on ever major system, including Triple A titles on both Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's Playstation 3 alike (Marvel vs Capcom 3, TEKKEN Tag Tournament 2, Street Fighter IV, etc.). However, as we begin our descent into the next generation of consoles (Mainly Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's Playstation 4), we are beginning to see a clear image of which to get based on system specific current and upcoming game releases
This article is going to explain my reasoning behind why I believe gamers who consider themselves hardcore fighting enthusiasts will probably find their best bet with Sony's Playstation 4 over the Nintendo's Wii or Microsoft's Xbox One for next generation consoles.
Fighting Games on Xbox 360, Wii, and Playstation 3
With the current console releases of the Xbox One and Playstation 4, we can assuredly say we are in the final years of their previous iterations, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. More resources are going to be pulled into the new generation of gaming, their systems, and their services while we will see less-and-less emphasis being placed on current gen. However, this is not something we should be surprised by, it tends to happen with every single system out there that has ever come out, being eclipsed by the latest and greatest piece of innovative technology and jaw-dropping graphical capabilities. What is important is how the systems faired during their lifetimes as this drastically effects how the general populace views a certain company and what they crank out. I want to look at fighting game behavior over its course on the current generation of systems.
We saw pretty even releases on both Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 as far as Triple A titles, but we hardly ever seen any amount of love presented for the Nintendo Wii for this genre. Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 both received a lot of the same titles that are/were considered one of the "Main" fighting game of gamers at that time, including: Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, Street Fighter x TEKKEN, Injustice: Gods Among Us, TEKKEN 6, TEKKEN Tag Tournament 2, Soul Calibur IV, Soul Calibur V, The King of Fighters XII, The King of Fighters XIII, etc. With this also in mind, we have to move onto how the hardcore tournament scene thought about the preferred system to play these games on.
Evolution Championship Series or "EVO", is the most well known fighting game tournament series in the entire world, bringing in competitors from every country to compete for the title of "Champion". The games that are going to be present at EVO directly impacts the popularity and willingness to embrace certain games within the community, inadvertently causing certain games to flourish where usually no one would have paid attention, or others to go unnoticed or dropped altogether in favor of a more popular game. Also, here is normally a direct increase in online play in the Evolution circuit games after tournaments, especially if a set between two players was considered "Intense". Evolution mostly only used Playstation 3 because the previous tournaments used Playstation 2, not to mention the asian players (Who are normally the most prominent in fighters) main console of choice allied with Sony. However, certain games (Like Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3) simply ran better on a Microsoft Xbox 360, so we began to see split systems at this tournament. In order to provide a fair atmosphere, they had to begin to run games on the system most optimized for the game and also the most popular (Such as TEKKEN Tag Tournament 2 being played almot exclusively on Playstation 3).
With most major releases being on both systems and certain games being played on certain systems, it would seem that we have a fifty-fifty chance of a game launch being mainly played on either system, correct? Wrong. We are now beginning to see an obvious difference towards the end of this gen's life cycle and the next one... and Playstation is winning.
Playstation, Pulling Ahead of the Pack
In general, we have seen a failing of Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming console in Japan for a while now, even to such a point where a lot of retailers do no even carry the console because it sold so poorly. Playstation is a native Japanese company and has a lot of support because of that, also, simply because many people grew up with the Playstation and did not get introduced to the original Xbox until after the launch of the Playstation 2. Even though the Xbox 360 came out a full year before the Playstation 3, it suffered from a slew of problems, most notably the dreaded "Red Ring of Death" which forced many people to drop the console in its early days. Even now as we have launched the next generation of systems (Playstation 4, Xbox One), the Microsoft home console did NOT launch in Japan, meaning their only option was to buy a Playstation 4.
Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-'s second trailer confirmed exactly what I thought was going to be the problem with the upcoming generation of systems. This video is taken from the official YouTube account of ArkSystemWorks were it says in the details, "In development for the Playstation 4 and Playstation 3 consoles", they even have a version with the "PS4" and "PS3" logos on them. One of the first majorly anticipated fighting games to be released for the next generation of systems and it is a Playstation only title, not good. While Microsoft does have "Killer Instinct", it does not have the same type of hardcore fan base as Guilty Gear has (Even an entire website dedicated to it, Dustloop.com). Nintendo biggest exclusive fighting title is the "Super Smash Bros." series, however, seeing as how much of a disappointment Super Smash Bros. Brawl was considered by the majority of competitive Smash Bros. Melee players (And still despised to this day, as SSBM is making a mainstream comeback), it is unlikely many will buy a Wii-U just for Super Smash Bros.Wii-U (TRAILER) as many did with the Wii for Brawl. Moreover, even though Nintendo saw a release of "Tatsunoko Vs Capcom" and "Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars" that title seemed only like a beta for the format of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 (And I say this because we saw Morrigan, Ryu, Frank West, Chun-Li, and Zero return from that game to UMvC 3), and while highly demanded, unlikely we will see a Tatsunkoko vs Capcom 2. With that being said, unfortunately, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- is not the only fighting game series to be exclusive to the Playstation company recently.
|Manaka from AquaPazza|
Also, we cannot neglect how the Free-2-Play fighting games have been going thus far. We have had two releases, TEKKEN Revolution and Soul Calibur: Lost Swords (Even though Lost Swords only has story modes, the base game has its popularity from fighting), both of which do not appear on the Xbox 360 or Nintendo Wii. We even see a Free-2-Play model from Dead or Alive 5: Ultimate, which was not present to download on Xbox Live or the Nintendo Wii-U Store (While it did release on both systems, you did not have the choice of the Free-2-Play format in which you only downloaded the characters you want). Killer Instinct also used a Free-2-Play format, but the game itself is being developed with Microsoft Studios, you cannot really count that as Playstation itself had no hand in either of the previous two's title developments.
With so many games being released specifically for the Playstation console, it really makes you question whether you will be able to survive on another system if you crave the thrill of fighting games. While the 360 in its core games are pretty split; and we are almost sure to see major releases for another iteration of Street Fighter or Marvel vs Capcom released for at least the Xbox One and Playstation 3, other games may soon follow in only releasing on native console (Especially when the Xbox One is not launching in Japan for quite some time, and he footing by then will have gone to the Playstation 4).
What Microsoft Can Do
|Jago vs B.Orchid in the remake of "Killer Instinct" for Xbox One.|
First off, I did not mention Nintendo at all on the basis that most people do not consider it a next generation console to begin with (True, it may be more graphically capable and possess better hardware to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, it still does not hold a candle to what can be done on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One). Also, it lacks even the most basic online features that the PS3 and 360 already have). Also, the Wii-U's sales have been really pathetic overall, not to mention the fact that they only have TEKKEN Tag Tournament 2 for Wii-U thus far that I have heard about (And even then, we already have TEKKEN Tag Tournament 2 for Arcades, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3).
With me getting that out of the way, I would like to say that I believe Microsoft is the only one right now who can compete with Playstation for this spot, and why it needs to do so or it will be losing a good chunk of is audience. Starting off with Killer Instinct was a good move by them, but to me it seems more of a way to appeal to the nostalgia some people have. They only released six characters to begin with, made it a downloadable title with no physical copy available except through the "Pin Ultimate Edition", and 2 downloadable characters to bring the roster up to 8 (When they should have had at least 10 characters to start with before Downloadable Content). Also, it seems like they rushed the game to be finished by release because of license acquisition issues, probably why they chose to keep the character count so low. While everything else about the game is simply amazing (Graphics, how fun it is, MUSIC!), this will do little for them in the future for fans who want to expand into other fighters. They secured DIVEKICK! as one of the titles the will be getting, and while it is fun, it cannot really be considered a serious fighting game to the community (Even though it was made by some prominent players in the community, it is more of a parody of the "Dive Kick" moves characters are given in fighting games). They need to secure more fighting games in general or create more, give people who own the console a reason not to trade it in if they are not getting the titles they want the most.
Microsoft will need to set a foothold in Japan; and they will probably need to do this by establishing some sort of handheld console that can rival Nintendo's 3DS and Sony's Playstation Vita. Japanese gamers seem to be in love with handhelds at the moment, one reason it seems that the Playstation 4's launch was delayed in Japan compared to the U.S.'s by nearly 3 months. Also, they will need to start making games that appeal to Japanese gamers more, rather than just the shooting and sports game it seems that western gamers are now fully accustomed to having (Not to mention it seems we are out of touch with the Role Playing Game and Dating Sim markets, but I will discuss that in another article). By not catering to the needs of the Japanese, they will continue to run to Playstation and developers will not want to support a company's console that is not looking out for the best interest of their native consumers (Probably a big reason why we saw a Xbox Live Arcade release for Guilty Gear: Accent Core Plus and will not be seeing a release for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-).
In addition to this, they need to start appealing to the otaku culture, especially things most people would throw the term "Moe" at. Again though, I really do not see how a foot hold cannot be established without a handheld system and mobile games that are as exciting as their console releases (Based on consumer data, Japanese surpasses America in mobile game spending). I do not see this happening because it appears Microsoft is more focused on optimizing what can be done with the "Cloud" and turning your living room into a place centered around the Xbox One.
|Millia Rage in her new costume for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-. Taken from the 1st Trailer|
Seems to me that all non-major companies will release fighting games on the Playstation console until Microsoft has more of an interest in appealing to the Japanese market (Since that is where the majority of our fighting games come from), and until Nintendo can actually make a respectable console by today's standards. With all of the current releases and known upcoming releases for the Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 respectively, it is sure to be a tell-tale signs of things ahead for this genre unless something drastically changes.
Recently I have been too heart broken. The BlazBlue series which I have followed since its inception will now be out of my reach (And Chronophantasma looks so good too!), Guilty Gear will be out of my reach, and I will be missing out of other awesome titles like AquaPazza and Persona 4: The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold as I said earlier. This also means I will have to buy a fight stick for both systems (Or get one and have it dual-modded) simply so I can have
Rooting for Microsoft as I have did, switching over to Xbox 360 from the Playstation 2, I figured Microsoft had everything figured out; but what I forgot was the fact that Playstation has been around longer and that Sony operates from Japan, and when all else fails you root for the home team, especially when it feels like no one else is going to value you as much as they will. With that in mind, I will have to declare that for the foreseeable future, Playstation 4 will be the reigning king of fighters (Like that pun?).
Thank you for reading my article! I hope this has helped some of you who are heavily into the Fighting Game genre re-think your priorities and/or shed some light on a subject you probably had not given much thought.