This generation is filled with great fighting games and they have not gone unnoticed by many players in the community. Injustice 2 and Tekken 7 both released to critical and commercial acclaim; both games were the highest selling in their respective month. Fighting games have always been a staple in video games industry since its creation in the arcade scene. It’s good to see that the fighting game scene did not die with the arcades after the 2000s. Street Fighter V is doing well but its rocky and botched launch left many casual players with nothing to do. Injustice 2 and Tekken 7 both came out with plenty of content for both casual and veterans players. However, two games that have gained notoriety and started developing a rivalry are Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite and Dragon Ball Fighter Z. Everyone is clamoring  about the drama that both of these games represent. MvC:I is being labeled a shell of its former self due to the exclusions of non-MCU characters and weird design choices. While DBFZ looks amazing and seems to embrace the chaotic nature of a 3v3 fighter. The discussion seems to revolve around the fact that DBFZ will eat MvC:I’s lunch, since both games are multi-character brawlers. Is this true though? Let’s examine both games and see how this narrative got developed.

Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite

 

Marvel Vs Capcom 3 sold 2.2 million copies worldwide, Street Fighter V sold 1.7 million, and Marvel Vs Capcom 2 downloadable, a game made in 2000 and re-released in 2009, sold 1.4 million. MvC is an important fighting game series for Capcom that sells ridiculously well and its a beloved franchise that many casual and hardcore fighting game players love. The appeal of the Marvel Vs Capcom series has always been its character mash ups with insane super attacks. The audience appreciated the roster variety and character selection that couldn’t be played any where else. For a long time there hadn’t been a new game in the series, Capcom said that it is difficult to use another company’s IP because of legal issues and etc. However, the sales of the re-released of MvC2 proved that players wanted a new entry to their beloved series and in 2010 Capcom announced a new entry that had been in development since 2008.

Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 was the last entry in the series but because of contractual obligations Capcom could not tweak or develop balance patches for the game. The annoucement of Marvel Vs Capcom: Infinite at PSX 2016 brought this series back again but this time as a PlayStation exclusive. Marvel Games created a new initiative of licensing out Marvel IP to the right development studios in order to achieve the level of success that the Batman Arkham games have enjoyed. Marvel Vs Capcom: Infinite will sell several millions of copies just because of the power of the Marvel brand in a MCU world we all live in. Veteran fans of the series, on the other hand, are disappointed that X-Men characters are completely taken out. This has been the biggest factor that could affect the overall message and sales of MvC:I. How could Capcom and Marvel suddenly take out fan favorite characters that have been in the series for almost two decades.

In this interview with Peter Rosas, a Capcom representative, he mentions that X-Men characters in the end are functions:

 If you were to actually think about it, these characters are just functions. They’re just doing things. Magneto, case and point, is a favorite because he has eight-way dash and he’s really fast, right? So our more technical players, all they want to do is triangle jump and that kind of stuff. Well guess what, Nova can do the same thing, Captain Marvel can do the same thing. Ultron can do the same thing. Go ahead and try them out.

It’s just the function that people are associating with the character, and there’s no shortage of that. We made sure that all proper play styles can be represented with our current roster. The design team has been looking at that very closely. We wanted to make sure that if a legacy character doesn’t happen to make the roster this time, that play style would still be represented. That somebody who has associated themselves with Magneto wouldn’t be lost coming into this title.

This quote has been taken out of context within various media circles as a sign that Capcom doesn’t care about its history with X-Men characters. Players need to understand that the decision to include or not include Marvel characters is entirely up to Marvel. Yet Capcom is the one getting the negative response and feedback from its community. Capcom’s hands have always been tied when it comes to using Marvel characters in this series, often times it is legal issues that keeps them from making more entries or improving the base game. This time around they want Infinite to be a brand-new, fresh entry that reflects the mainstream success of the MCU and bring in new players. X-Men are rumored to come to the game as downloadable characters in order to appease older fans of the series.

Either way, it’s Capcom’s job to create a great game that can bring in new players, provide fun and compelling fighters, and show how the game will grow. No game released in this is era is a one and done deal, some games have evolved over time because of significant patches and updates. Even Street Fighter V changed dramatically with several new characters and expanding game modes. Yes, X-Men are NOT in the game but that doesn’t mean that the game is doomed because of it. Marvel Vs Capcom: Infinite might bring new characters to the series that people will fall in love with! Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy is already making headlines because she looks fun to play with. By taking X-Men out of the equation, this will force Capcom and Marvel to deliver new characters instead of relying on their core staple.

The MCU is a master piece of cinema that created the concept of a series of movies that revolve around a single universe. The MCU created a new wave of fans that are in love with these characters and MvC:I has the potential to tap that new audience by making several new changes. The change to 2V2 instead of 3v3 also reflects the initiative to bring new players with a game that is easier to follow. Peter Rosas in the same interview also said that the change to 2v2 will:

We’re just making sure that players who are unfamiliar with the Versus series, or unfamiliar with fighting games in general, are able to jump in and have fun. And if they have fun, then they might be interested in sticking around and starting to learn more about the game, their characters, and things like that. The problem with previous entries is that it was a daunting. When you gave a controller to a new player, there was just nowhere to start. They didn’t know what to do.

We don’t want people to think that there’s some prescribed strategy. We want them to just be able to jump in the game, pick their characters, and not have to worry about assist types. We wanted everything to be very easy to understand so players can stick around and keep playing.

That’s key to this conversation that most veteran and fighting game enthusiasts are missing, new players are needed to help the genre as a whole. I fell in love with Marvel Vs Capcom in the arcades and by no means am I proficient but its always a great title to play with friends. Capcom isn’t trying to ruin one of their best selling fighting game series, they’re trying to make a game that is approachable and has enough depth for high level eSports competitions. The Infinity Stone system will add more depth that high level players can experiment with. Its entirely up to Capcom to know how much control and depth they want to give the players, changing the gameplay to 2v2 is a necessary one.

Capcom is punching the heavy bag this time around when compared to SFV’s launch. MvC: I has generated a lot of negative press with the gaming community. First, for the longest time they did not want to acknowledge that X-Men characters were cut from the roster. Second, E3 2017 introduced Dragon Ball Fighter Z to the world in a manner that portrays what MvC should be. And lastly, the demo did not provide a good first impression as character interactions looked painfully low-budget and the whole Chun-Li face fiasco.

Capcom is a company that has seen many success and many failures but their output of great games is undeniable since the 8bit era. They’re not afraid to take risks and chances, but they’re not against using fan feedback to improve their games. MvC:I has already adress several issues that fans have lobbied against the game. In the end we need to let the game speak for itself and not resort to the worst possible outcome before giving MvC:I a good shake. This game will grow and change over the course of its lifetime in a similar fashion like SFV. Capcom and Marvel are now willing to support this game to a much greater extent than before because of Marvel’s new initiative to make great games. MvC Infinite did a great service to get all the bad press out before the game, because its release will signal a turning point and its initial sales will dictate where its future lies.

Dragon Ball Fighter Z

Dragon Ball Fighter Z (DBFZ) is a brand new game that was announced at Xbox’s E3 press conference alongside the reveal of the Xbox One X. Immediately this game became an industry darling and is touted as the Marvel Vs Capcom: Infinite killer. DBFZ is in many ways a traditional MvC game which includes 3v3 fighting mechanics and assists. The most stunning and powerful aspects of this game is its art style, the game looks like an episode of Dragon Ball Z.

Arc System Works, creators of the Guilty Gear fighting game series, went to great lengths to faithfully recreate the look of its 2D fighting game in 3D for Guilty Gear Xrd Sign, a painstaking process that technical artist Junya C. Motomura detailed at this year’s Game Developers Conference. [Source]

While this new engine made Guilty Gear Xrd look great and beautiful, no one really knew the full extent of how good it could make a game look until Dragon Ball Fighter Z’s reveal.

Right out the gate, you can read Justin’s impressions about DBFZ, this game has been lorded over MvC: Infinite and for good reason. One, the art style and flair that the game has is truly impressive and stunning. Second, it’s being developed by Arc System Works who are known for making solid tech-heavy fighting games. Lastly, it also benefits from the DBZ license which is enjoying a new surge of popularity that hasn’t been seen since the 1990s. Dragon Ball is popular once again because its continuing the story with a brand new arc known as Dragon Ball Super. Even other Dragon Ball games started capitalizing on the success of Dragon Ball Super, Xenoverse 2 far exceeded its sales projections and shipped almost 1.4 million copies worldwide!

DBFZ is slated for a release in Feb 2018 and will include of fan favorite characters from DBZ and new characters for Dragon Ball Super. Arc System Works is developing a game that can possibly be the true successor to the MvC series. There are reports that DBFZ’s tutorials and combo tutorials are excellent for new comers. Arc System Work’s games always have the depth that eSports and veterans players clamor for. Each character reveal is a big announcement, almost to the level of hype that Smash Bros. for Wii U also had. Smash Bros and the first Injustice made headlines with each new fighter revealed to be in the game. The marketing and goodwill of this game is on point for success as it has already won the hearts of the audience.

Dragon Ball Fighter Z has a great license, one of the best fighting game studios, and the support of the internet. DBFZ has the making to be a great contender to MvC: Infinite, but there are only three factors that could work against it.

  1. Arc System Works’ games require a massive amount of work to be competent to play them. They have over time included robust tutorials and beginner friendly modes that make chain combos automatically. However, Arc System Work games have a difficult learning curve that may deter mainstream players.
  2. Dragon Ball Z is a popular and well-known IP but Marvel is relevant and hot! Marvel has re-envisioned itself as a house hold name for almost any product you can think of. The world stops every time a new Marvel movie trailer is released which shows how strong Marvel as a brand and will benefit Marvel Vs Capcom: Infinite in the long run.
  3. They’re not taking any risks, juts treading old ground like many games before it.

Only time will tell how MvC :I and DBFZ will match up against each other, but were certainly in a much better place now for a niche genre like fighting games. Injustice 2 and Tekken 7 sold well and eSports competitions will also show the impact of a game’s viewing experience. Fighting games live and die by the community that supports the game long after its release. The best case scenario would be that both games sell well and develop thriving communities around them. In the end, it is always good to have new games to play but mind share is important for any game to thrive in a competitive industry. Will players play both and love both? Or will one game reign supreme over the other? This discussion will be very interesting once EVO organizers have to decide which games to headline the tournament.