It’s hard to put into words the energy that’s flown through the FGC these past weeks. Dragon Ball FighterZ has undoubtedly set a new high for a fighting game release; timelines, forums, Discords, and streams have been jam-packed with DBFZ content and exploration as the pure excitement creates a force of gravity that is capturing everyone.
This game is going to do well; very well in fact.
Obvious observations aside, I want to bring to the forefront the increasingly important opportunity this event is presenting the FGC — and if we don’t seize it now, it may be a long time before it’s offered to us again. There are two things in particular Dragon Ball FighterZ is extending to us: meaningful money, and FGC expansion. Finances are first, because if there’s something we need to understand it’s the power of money; the in-house opportunities for the FGC, I’ll address second.
For as long as I can research back, the FGC has always existed in factions. That’s not to say we aren’t one big family, but we do separate ourselves. Fighting games, while offering the same core experience, have a wide variety of expressions that connect with different people. The anime, versus, arena, 2D and 3D, platform, and other fighters are all quite unique, while still maintaining that fighting game essence. These differences mean that while the FGC at large has a high user base, it spreads itself quite thin without a ton of overlap. Few and far between are the true multi-game players that will buy and support multiple genres of fighting games themselves. How many Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite players are entering BlazBlue at majors? Any Smashers grinding out Ranked in SFVAE? Not so many. Again, this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite beautiful: we can be so different while still sharing this core, fundamental experience. It does cause us a big problem from the financial perspective, though: we aren’t particularly worth much to developers.
Why do other esports have all the money? Why do their developers dump so much post-launch support and development into their games, and ours don’t? Why is their server health significantly stronger? Why is it so much easier to get sponsors to pick up another CS:GO team, but it’s pulling teeth to get a single FGC member truly sponsored? The answer is money. The FPS and MOBA genres boast tens of millions of active users that drive their sales, year over year. These games’ users are both significantly greater in number and less spread out, since they will all play and support most of the games in the given genre. Thus, developers and sponsors have both the resources and the motivation to give their efforts fully to those player bases.
See, it’s not passion that separates the communities. The players and developers all care deeply for what they do. If there’s no money, there can be no product.
The short, blunt truth is that the FGC isn’t nearly as profitable or as safe of an investment, and that’s why we don’t have the support or opportunities that these other communities receive. For instance, did you know that when a sponsor wants to run a CS:GO or LoL major tournament, they pay the other teams to attend, and not the other way around? You read that right. Sponsors will pay organizations like Liquid, NRG, and Evil Geniuses to attend their tournaments. So let me ask, what motivation would an org like Liquid have to dole out salaries to FGC players, when they themselves are the ones to foot the bill for their players to compete?
If they sign another FPS or MOBA team, they will visibly advertise to a guaranteed quarter to half-million consumers each tournament. If they pick up an FGC player, they can only hope for 16,000 on a good weekend.
Here’s the rub. If we want to have the kind of opportunities that these other communities receive regularly, then we need to join together and become a consumer base that they can’t afford to ignore. It’s not that we don’t have the power, it’s that we need to consolidate that power. And low and behold, we finally have a game that is accomplishing that for us!
So, here’s how this game not only is a win for the developers and sponsors, but a big win for us as well. As I said, it’s not a bad thing that our community is so diverse in its expression. It’s one of the things that makes us so great, in fact. We never should be forced to pull together into a game we don’t want to play merely to increase our purchasing power, that’s the antithesis of passion!
The blessing of Dragon Ball FighterZ is that it’s a game that is making us want to pull together.
This game is offering us so much that we’ve been asking for in a game. DBFZ combines stunning visuals with deep respect for an IP that we all cherish. It blends the accessibility factor with the competitive depth that allows new and experienced players to find their place. It contains so much creative freedom and expression that we can all effectively play the game our own way.
This is the only game I know of that literally every FGC sub-community is joining the fray for. Nothing has ever come along before that has enticed members from every corner of the FGC. This is a game that can unite us and grow us at a rate that we’ve yet to experience. People are flooding into the FGC as we speak. People who left and are now coming back, people from fringe semi-related communities, and brand new players itching to experience this stunning and exciting game based on their beloved TV series.
So here’s our chance, men and women of the FGC. Now is not the time for arrogance and belittling. Everyone wants to plant their flag as the alpha, the king of the new hill that’s emerged, and at any cost necessary. And I’m here to say: don’t.
This opportunity is much bigger than personal victories or selfish ambition! It’s our chance to welcome new players from different backgrounds into the community and help them learn what makes this game — and community — so special. It’s our chance to rise up and become a stronger group of gamers and competitors than we’ve ever been. It’s our chance improve our overall skill and reach, as we bring in fresh eyes and minds to develop and refine our understanding of our shared passion. Put away your hostility for each other. Drop the silly name-calling and backbiting. Educate. Answer questions. Give your time to the new and transitioning players rather than driving them away and, I promise, we’ll become something greater than we previously imagined.