Fighting games have experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years, but it appears that the revitalized market may have finally reached its carry capacity. Capcom announced today that Street Fighter X Tekken’s sales have fallen well below expectations, and Capcom is blaming the crossover fighter’s poor performance on an over-saturation of the fighting genre.
Since I live in an area that’s home to a pretty vibrant fighting game community (southern California,) I know a lot of people who play fighting games competitively, but even within this demographic, there were a lot of people who passed up Street Fighter X Tekken. Hardcore fighting game fans don’t need to buy a new fighter every few months: as evidenced by the success of Third Strike, competitive players spend years learning the ins-and-outs of each game and perfecting their strategy. There’s been a lot of fighting games recently, and most of the fighting game players I know have simply picked one or two games to focus on and have ignored the rest. It’s not just Street Fighter X Tekken that’s struggling either: Soul Calibur V was released earlier this year and, despite positive reviews, the game has sold poorly in comparison to earlier titles in the series.
With that said, while Capcom’s excuse is true to some extent, it does seem kind of hypocritical of the Osaka-based publisher to blame a “crowded market” for SFxT’s poor sales considering that Capcom themselves have released (and re-released) more fighting games than any other publisher this generation. Perhaps Capcom’s own business model is to blame as well, as I know a few people who held off from buying the game because they were sure that Capcom would release a newer version of it several months down the line (as they did with Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Street Fighter IV.)
It’s hard to say whether there really are too many fighting games on the market, or if Capcom’s just making excuses. Regardless, I love fighting games and I hope the poor sales of some recent titles doesn’t detour game companies from making more brawlers. It’ll be interesting to see if upcoming fighters like Dead or Alive 5 and the Persona 4 fighter (from Guilty Gear developer Arc System Works,) manage to turn a profit or if they end up getting the same icy reception that SFxT has suffered.