The Fighting Game Divide
Date Published: September 18, 2017
Despite not having a long history to note from, the Fighting Game Community (FGC) has been a part of many interesting storylines. The latest, is how the negative reception of a singular game, sparked a positive reception to multiple games.
The use of the word community is often meant as a general term for a group of people who share some common interest in an idea, however, it is rarely the case when all of a community’s principles are in fact an accurate reflection on all of its members, which is the situation the FGC has dealt with practically since its inception.
The FGC at face value is best described as a community who enjoys fighting games, and everything that goes with them. However, that description sells the overall idea of the FGC short as there are many factors to fighting games, some being fandom, analytical breakdown, entertainment value, psychological elements, and many others.
Considering all of the components that make fighting games so intriguing, it is no surprise that preference plays a big part in which fighting games are chosen to be highlighted and adored, and which fighting games are sent to be disparaged and shunned.
Therefore, a divide within the community was created based on individual preference which consequently led to a majority and a minority, as well as categorization among fighting games. In hindsight, the FGC took fighting games—a subgenre of video games, and divided itself into even smaller groups within what was already a niche community to begin with.
While there are some outliers in games like the two button fighter Divekick or special variations like the Mortal Kombat series and the use of a block button, fighting games as they currently stand are categorized as one of three types of games; traditional 2-D games, 3-D based movement games, and anime fighting games. Simply put, the reason these games are categorized into these groups is due to the rule set they are held accountable to.
Fighting games like Street Fighter and The King of Fighters follow the traditional 2-D rule set of having only four options with regards to movement on a two-dimensional plane; up, down, left, and right. The same is true for 3-D based movement games like Tekken and Soulcalibur only with the difference being instead of a two-dimensional plane, the player is free to sidestep on a three-dimensional plane.
Anime fighting games are closer to 2-D traditional based games with regards to gameplay, however they are held to a more unique rule set when it comes to being able to cancel most, if not all moves into other moves, as well factors such as high jumping, air blocking and advanced guarding.
It wasn’t until recently that these categories were prominent in the FGC with regards to how specific fighting games were being treated. The traditional 2-D games were the vast majority vote for what the FGC looked for in fighting games as a result of the success of Capcom’s Street Fighter IV.
The sway in fact, was so heavily in favor of Street Fighter IV that other games that didn’t follow its direction like Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and BlazBlue: Chronophantasma were often deemed as lesser titles and not worth the time of the mainstream crowd.
Moreover, Street Fighter IV’s popularity became one so prominent in the FGC that even games like Killer Instinct and The King of Fighters XIII that did follow the similar rule set of a traditional 2-D game, were also treated somewhat poorly by the majority of the mainstream FGC, once the honeymoon period wore off.
However, as unexpected as it was, Street Fighter IV’s success and popularity did not translate over to Street Fighter V, rather the opposite, the components and gameplay elements that made Street Fighter IV a fan favorite and the majority darling of the FGC, were seemingly missing from Street Fighter V.
Although there were concerns, Capcom fans did not entirely give up on their beloved fighting game franchise despite the fact Street Fighter V’s out of the box presentation, gameplay, and overall future direction did not align with the FGC’s vision.
It took roughly a year of Street Fighter V constantly faltering and multiple PR failures and relative misfires by Capcom, that those who hoped things would change, realized it may be time to transition over to something else. A movement sparked even greater with releases of titles such as Tekken 7, Injustice 2, and Guilty Gear XRD: Revelator 2.
Whilst it was not the case for everyone, 2017 has been a transitional year for many in the FGC as there was an overall sense that those who once may have belittled game titles that weren’t Street Fighter IV, have become more tolerant and accepting of other fighting games upon moving on to different titles after being dissatisfied with Street Fighter V.
Though it is factored in the equation, it should be noted that Street Fighter V’s deficiencies and Capcoms fall from grace, did not make other game titles suddenly better, rather it was the community’s perception of these fighting games that changed.
Fighting game series like Tekken, and The King of Fighters have been good enough to be appreciated by their niche audience for years, however it was the overwhelming vocal majority of Street Fighter IV fans that made these titles seem far worse than what they actually were, which was quite good.
While it may not have been how the FGC wanted it to happen, the downfall of Street Fighter V was in fact a significant factor in shining the light on other games who may have not gotten it otherwise. Fighting game fans playing and spectating the games they truly enjoy is what the FGC really should be all about, not because a certain game is deemed better than another.
Lastly, even though many have transitioned over to other games, there are still a lot of others in the FGC, who enjoy the new direction of Street Fighter V, and while the game may have lost a certain market with its hardcore FGC crowd, it did gain a new market in a younger generation of players.