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Mortal Kombat X hits record pace; are fighting games entering a golden era now?

Posted by Jon 'Catalyst' Grey • November 5, 2015 at 7:27 p.m. PST • Comments: 63

Mortal Kombat X hits record pace; are fighting games entering a golden era now?

Mortal Kombat X is still leading the pack of 2015 video games sales, through September, according to a recent Time Warner investor relations statement. While no official numbers were given, the Wall Street Journal claims MKX has sold over 5 million copies so far, and this is without a release for the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360.

This entry in the series has hit a recording breaking pace already, by having its biggest month ever for the franchise in terms of sales in April of this year.

Mortal Kombat X only trailed Super Smash Bros. Brawl's March 2008 launch for the best fighting game sales launch month ever, according to the NPD.

Not only is this wonderful news for the people at NetherRealm Studios, but these kinds of numbers will likely impact the entire fighting game community in a positive way. We explore why below.

Building off of Street Fighter 4

The fighting game community saw a huge resurgence with the 2009 console release of Street Fighter 4. While our scene had a small, but very strong set of supporters at that time — the 4th entry in the Street Fighter franchise injected a dose of adrenaline into our community — and into several other fighting game developer's veins.

Franchises that had remained dormant, like Guilty Gear, Mortal Kombat, Marvel vs. Capcom and many others, saw brand new entries for the first time in years.

Many people theorized we saw these new releases because of Street Fighter 4's strong sales, with the vanilla release alone pulling in 3.3 million. The community's outpouring of support for SF4 also likely played a role here, too.

Mortal Kombat's sales and a recent dark past

Mortal Kombat 9, as of early 2013, had sold closer to 4 million units than 3 million according to NetherRealm Studios' Ed Boon.

If the Wall Street Journal's claim holds up, Mortal Kombat X's 5 million in sales would be outstanding, and may end up being very comparable to one of the strongest performing fighting games of all time — the Super Nintendo version of Street Fighter 2 — which clocked in at an amazing 6.3 million units, after it's release in 1992.

These are the kind of numbers that executives at gaming companies notice, and can lead to a whole new slew of quality fighting games being green-lighted.

After all, it wasn't that long ago where sluggish sales of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Street Fighter X Tekken were making headlines, and those are the kind of stories that can scare off executives from signing off on similar projects.

Golden years of fighting games?

With Mortal Kombat X's very strong success, the new Super Smash Bros. generating nearly 10 million in sales, and Street Fighter 5's upcoming release, it's possible the fighting game community could be looking at its strongest period ever.

There hasn't been a time in fighting game history where three franchises have collectively generated the kinds of sales figures we're seeing right now, and if Street Fighter 5 lives up to expectations, it would be hard to argue that this genre has ever been stronger than it is currently — at least from a sales perspective.

Only time will tell where our community will end up, but even if you're not a fan of NetherRealm Studios' latest entry, these kinds of numbers are something that should end up benefiting the entire scene once again.

Sources: Gamefly, Videogamer, Wall Street Journal and Capcom's IR page.
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