Just mix it up a little
Due to the cancellation of events because of COVID-19 and current FGC controversy, the fighting game community found itself at home on what was supposed to be the start of EVO 2020 on 7/31. With EVO cancelled and a stage for publishers to show off their announcements along with it, a group of Japanese publishers gathered for the first Japanese Fighting Game Publisher’s Roundtable (JFGPR). The conference featured representatives from Koei Tecmo Games, Arc System Works, CAPCOM, ARIKA, and Bandai Namco Entertainment, and included both a Q&A session and a segment for new announcements.
Starting off the conference with a Q&A section, the panel covered the issues inherent in releasing and making a new fighting game such as roster selection, crossplay possibilities, and the idea of accessibility in fighting games. Some of these answers were surprising coming from Japanese developers, like the fact that most devs seem to be big proponents of crossplay, wherein previous inquiries regarding adding crossplay to games, it was generally considered diluting the experience since there was a perceived introduction of cheating from PC players. Additionally, on the issue of balancing accessibility vs. difficulty in keeping legacy players, virtually no one on the panel had a solid answer, but the representatives all agreed it was quite a difficult challenge, especially balancing the simplicity of both the gameplay and visuals. The panel also touched on some topics regarding the current state of affairs of fighting games looking to the future, including talks on where arcade sticks fit in modern games, and what the user experience of future games would look like. The stream gave valuable insight to the community, and with all the publishers together in one place, it was an especially unusual opportunity to witness.
After the Q&A, each publisher presented some features on what fans of their games could expect soon. With Street Fighter V already planning to have their big announcement stream on August 5th, CAPCOM was pretty tight lipped with new news, but they did mention a trial mode coming up soon with access to all 40 current characters for about two weeks, a great opportunity to try out some new characters if you didn’t already shell out the cash.
SNK was pleased to announce some news for Samurai Shodown including Gongsun Li from Honor of Kings as a new DLC character for Season 2. Samurai Shodown players will also be pleased to hear the game is getting a third Season of DLC, which if anything, suggests SNK has enough faith in developing their new fighting games that they’re willing to support the game through three seasons. Arika, developer of Fighting EX Layer noted they were working on greatly improving FEXL, with a new beta and improvement to netcode which should provide a nice bump in player base for the small game.
Bandai Namco and Arc System Works closed out the show with the larger announcements of the night. For Soul Calibur VI, Bandai Namco showcased the new character Setsuka and a new costume DLC pack including crossover TEKKEN 7 character costumes. Tekken 7 came in with big news of its own, including a whole new season of support, with a much needed balance patch, more new moves, online play improvement in the form of a wifi/ethernet connection indicator (and hopefully some netcode improvements) and a teaser for a new character likely to be Kunimitsu.
Finally, Arc System Works came up big with announcements for ArcRevo America and ArcRevo Japan online tournaments, in addition to two character trailers for Guilty Gear -STRIVE-. Surprising many, Leo Whitefang made his appearance, with a lot of old moves, including his signature Brynhildr Stance, and some new tactics to…make his opponent block for the whole round. Additionally, the cyber samurai we have been waiting for finally got showed off and finally has a name. Nagoriyuki got a trailer of his own, and showed a teleport dash with invulnerability, and a pretty damn cool sword. With all the great news for -STRIVE-, it was also announced that it will be on PS5, making it the first fighting game announced for the next-gen console. Responding to the excitement generated from the conference, the publishers mentioned they looked forward to another, although the suggestion was definitely tentative. Hopefully, depending on the reception of the news from the current JFGPR we’ll hear more from developers in upcoming conferences in a time where in-person events are scarce.