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

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

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.


darthvenom said on November 5, 2015 at 7:31 p.m.

What a time (for fighting games) to be alive.

maarkypoo said on November 5, 2015 at 7:37 p.m.

Too bad it's practically dead competitively already

soulsatellite said on November 5, 2015 at 7:37 p.m.

It's worth noting that many of the sales of MKX have to do with the shock value/"gimmick" of fatalities/brutalities. But hey, it sold well and continues to do so, and the gameplay did not suffer gameplay-wise or competitive scene-wise, despite the "gimmick" (I hate to use that word).

Awesome news.

Aquaman said on November 5, 2015 at 7:37 p.m.

I pray for KOF XIV to hit XB1. It needs sales badly so SNK can put out more stuff like MOTW & Last Blade.

Admiral_Addict said on November 5, 2015 at 7:46 p.m.

@Catalyst: Small typo on the title. Two "ares".
As of fighters entering a golden era, I'm gonna wait until SFV and KOF XIV are released to give my two cents.

SqueakyBloom said on November 5, 2015 at 7:49 p.m.

"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."

Mortal Kombat was then only active fighting game series that stayed active while being the only fighting game series that stayed in the mainstream.

Street Fighter 4 did however have them take Mortal Kombat back to its roots. Regardless of how you feel about the 3D era of MK (I find them entertaining for their time) they did very well financially.

All that aside, I really want Virtua Fighter 6 and then all will be perfect.

Catalyst said on November 5, 2015 at 7:50 p.m.

Thanks, fixed that.

And I really appreciate everyone checking out the article.

There are some interesting things happening in the FGC in terms of its success, and I wanted to highlight them here a bit with this story.

Catalyst said on November 5, 2015 at 7:54 p.m.

MK was definitely more active than the other titles, but actually right after MK vs. DC hit, in 2008, they took a longer break between games than usual.

Typically NRS/Midway was releasing a new MK game close to every year (fighting game or not), while MK9 didn't hit until 2011.

Your point is still valid, just wanted to note that the franchise was quiet for longer than usual during that window.

warriors said on November 5, 2015 at 7:55 p.m.

i think the mortal combat brand is more appealing to the casual gamer
compared to street fighter, which is more hardcore

Aluppoj said on November 5, 2015 at 7:57 p.m.

I don't play MK anymore (not since UMK3), but this is fantastic news for NRS and should serve to improve the landscape of the FGC.

It is an exciting time to be a fighting game player! The cool stuff going on with Tournament series, online competition, years worth of continued support (for Street Fighter).

I rank the current climate in the FGC amongst some of my favorites times!

To name a few:

First time I played SF2 arcade.

SFA1 on PSX (omg I fell in love with SF again on Alpha 1!).

Dreamcast! And the discovery of SF3!

The announcement of SF4 (our world changed forever!)!

Everything going on from day to day currently! So much hype every day!

Congrats Smash and MKX!!!! 💪😁👍

Jookey said on November 5, 2015 at 8:01 p.m.


MisguidedAngel said on November 5, 2015 at 8:06 p.m.

This had more to do with Midway going bankrupt. (Which wasn't the fault of MK doing poorly... Even MKvsDC, an objectively awful game, sold over a million copies)

Skinny_Puppy said on November 5, 2015 at 8:13 p.m.

Is the PC version finally up to par? I'll fully admit quitting the game because of the PC version.

RandomSelectMaster said on November 5, 2015 at 8:13 p.m.

This is good news although I haven't touched MKX again for the past 4 months. I was on it all the time, but for some reason, I decided Ultra is more fun. Maybe I just suck at MKX lol, but I will say one thing, MK players are a bit more obnoxious when they have MIC, and not all of them, but a lot of them. That could be the contributing factor. Ultra players have been cooler IMO.

Catalyst said on November 5, 2015 at 8:14 p.m.

Yes, good point.

VulcanHades said on November 5, 2015 at 8:23 p.m.

(This user was banned.)

Otter_of_Death said on November 5, 2015 at 8:28 p.m.

Mkx is pulling in decent numbers and viewers, and people are calling it dead. MK9 was the same way. It pulled in 100+ entrants at Final Round 2012 and people were still like "mk9 is dead, lol." Sometimes, I just get tired of people wanting my game to fail.

FastAsleep said on November 5, 2015 at 8:30 p.m.

All gamers love Mortal Kombat. Not everyone will play BlazBlue or Guilty Gear though. With the hype of the current gen systems I couldn't imagine it not selling well. Could've sold better if they would've gotten last gen to work

Jookey said on November 5, 2015 at 8:32 p.m.

Itsuno has expressed interest in the series. But that man has to give us Devil May Cry 5 before anything else!

FastAsleep said on November 5, 2015 at 8:35 p.m.

I sold my copy right before the first SFV beta. For me it was the bad netcode and the skill gap. Way too many laggy games and way too people who picked scorpion and thought spamming teleport was a good idea.

IkeMoses said on November 5, 2015 at 8:35 p.m.

I really hope SFV does good numbers. It's hard for me to see it doing as well as MKX or even SF4, though.

Pachendrix said on November 5, 2015 at 8:40 p.m.

Next year is going to be big for fighting games. And success could turn into Injustice 2, another Capcom vs (perhaps regain momentum for MvC3, or CvS3), the DarkStalkers reboot or sequel Capcom is so afraid of making, maybe the DBZ game we've all been waiting for from ArkSys, another Rival Schools, a new and improved Soul Calibur (make it 2.5D influenced by the Last Blade I don't care what people say). The possibilities are endless with the success of MKX, and the likely success of fighting games in 2016. It could turn out even better than the late 90's early 00's. PogChamp

AS_Columbo said on November 5, 2015 at 8:43 p.m.
(This comment was hidden because it was down voted. You can view it by clicking here.)
Cocayne said on November 5, 2015 at 8:49 p.m.

next year is make it or break it for capcom. if SFV doesnt do as well as SF4 did, then they will have a weak main street fighter game and a 5 year old marvel game that they have no creative control over anymore (and is not bringing in new players).

let's hope sfv doesnt turn into SFxT and spark another capcom fighting game ice age where people will be playing SF4 for another 10 years.

SirRetro08 said on November 5, 2015 at 9:13 p.m.

I would also point out the fact many companies are jumping on board with MLG, eSports and FGC (wanted to separate entities to avoid controversy/conflicts). So sponsorships for fighting games are growing as well (more for gaming as a whole).

TarTurtle said on November 5, 2015 at 9:18 p.m.

marvel2/cvs2/3s golden age
sf4 silver age
sf5 new age

Burningpluto said on November 5, 2015 at 9:22 p.m.

TIME WARNER= Warner Bros........ get a clue lol.

YorKeY said on November 5, 2015 at 9:22 p.m.


Mortal Kombat X is FAR FROM DEAD COMPETITIVELY, I dunno if it's just me, but I always feel like MK X is second after USF4. Even on Twitch it gets the most viewers when USF4 isn't being streamed, even more than Xrd.

Smash Bros is another thing of course, that's all the rage right now, I don't care if you deny it, but Melee pulls in INSANE numbers for a 2001, yeah, you read right, 2001 video game. No game has lived longer than Melee, NOT EVEN SF2, NO GAME. Of course, before you say anything in your blind fan boy rage about " SF2 never died, many dedicated players still play it, same with SF3, same with marvel 2, ect " yeah, yeah, but are they pulling in Melee numbers till this day? Don't think so, and no i'm not a melee fan boy.

GOOD_FOOD said on November 5, 2015 at 9:32 p.m.

It always feels like a calm before a storm when talking about a new street fighter; this was the case back in 08 with SCIV having yoda and vader as guest and selling 2million+ or a year prior when VF5 was released and critics and players cited it as one the best fighters ever released. SF4 drops and revitalized people's interests in fighting games as a whole and I believe SF5 will do the same as it's coming up to 7 years since SF4 console lanuch. I'm amazed at how far we've come since and where we're going. Capcom wants SF5 to become the league of Legends for fighters? I'M HYPED!

BritishTea said on November 5, 2015 at 9:44 p.m.

I can't find the numbers of how many people registered for SSFIV: AE at Final Round 2012 but most people would call MK9 dead when SSFIV: AE was pulling in 1,000+ people at tournaments like EVO (and that was based on EARLY entrants instead of the final numbers) as opposed to MK9's meagre 100+ entrants.

cr0ssface said on November 5, 2015 at 9:44 p.m.

Every scene has something to gain when another scene does well. This community is the best.

Catalyst said on November 5, 2015 at 10:04 p.m.

If you check the statement/IR page, it lists the company as Time Warner, even though they typically go by Warner Bros. when handling their film/video game side of things.

Technically, either one is correct, and since they used Time Warner on the statement itself, I went with that in the story.

It's the same company though, just different divisions go by different names. Time Warner is the main name the company itself operates under.

warriors said on November 5, 2015 at 10:14 p.m.
(This comment was hidden because it was down voted. You can view it by clicking here.)
RandomSelectMaster said on November 5, 2015 at 10:16 p.m.

Yeah, the netcode was not the best. I got kicked out plenty of times during some good sessions. That AND Scorpion is annoying as heck with his high low game. I also found it annoying when someone thought I was spamming moves when I was doing variations of combos, so they pick say Jacklyn Briggs to spam fireballs. I thought that was stupid, and yes, this was more than one person, and to add to the annoyance, they were on the MIC announcing what they were doing. I am glad I beat them too on those games. This all led to them rage quitting. You did the right thing I say as many players have dropped off (and this was 4 months ago, I am not sure how many players are left). For the sake of the game, I hope there are plenty of players still. I may go back on and see.

simmmmm said on November 5, 2015 at 10:17 p.m.

true, but they also have insane amounts of content

the crypt alone has more to offer than a complete capcom fighting game

RandomSelectMaster said on November 5, 2015 at 10:24 p.m.

I do hope it does really good numbers too, and as much as I don't mind it being just on the PS4 (despite me not owning one yet), that could hurt the sales some. I am one that will buy it on launch day. I am looking forward to this game and the fact that they will continue to support it through DLC content. That in itself should give a major boost to the game. They can even add new mechanics this way, so I only see SFV evolving, and all this will be on the initial iteration. We have to hand it to Capcom for listening.

RandomSelectMaster said on November 5, 2015 at 10:26 p.m.

I will give NRS that! They definitely delivered on the content. The mechanics of the game is not that bad, but it definitely could be improved.

Otter_of_Death said on November 5, 2015 at 10:36 p.m.

Less entrants than street fighter 4 doesn't mean "dead." Otherwise, every FGC game on the market now is dead by that logic.

And without numbers, we don't even know how big the difference even was. Trust me, in 2012, a hundred entrants for ANY game was phenomenal.

Agentownshiprebelion said on November 5, 2015 at 11:03 p.m.

That's nice. Was wondering what it would be like if we got fighters from different developers rather than the usual suspects.

GenSoHotSpicy said on November 5, 2015 at 11:08 p.m.

I'm always happy to hear NRS titles sell well because I have loved every game they have made, Injustice being my favorite FG ever.

I cannot wait for Injustice 2 to be announced!!!

The 8th gen of consoles is going to be great with the abundance of FGs on the horizon. SF5, KOF14 and please Lord Shiva a new VF.

SureYouCant said on November 5, 2015 at 11:26 p.m.

And we all have no idea what you are thinking.

MOMOCHIS_REPRESENTATIVE said on November 6, 2015 at 12:05 a.m.

(This user was banned.)

3rdStrike_Ebi said on November 6, 2015 at 12:43 a.m.

I for one have the Super Best Friends to thank for getting me into fighting games. Their Friday Night Fisticuffs series solidified my decision.

sams89 said on November 6, 2015 at 2:35 a.m.

5 million it's impossible

Mortal Kombat X "PS4" : 1.65
Mortal Kombat X "XOne": 0.93
Total : 2.60

Data updated 20th September

And in a month and a half is impossibile to sell 2.40 million copies.
(Also sorry for my English)

Sasuga said on November 6, 2015 at 5:04 a.m.

I believe fighting games are on their peak right now and we will watch it go down soon.

Fightinggames are becoming so ironed out that they will be approaching perfection. And with that, a big part of what made them interesting, will disappear. With all the filth removed, they become boring.

I hope I'm wrog, tho.

tl:dr : We got what we wanted.

FearfulSymmetry said on November 6, 2015 at 6:20 a.m.

Wouldn't the correct vernacular for the third paragraph of the second section be greenlit rather than greenlighted?

Blade4693 said on November 6, 2015 at 7:02 a.m.

Glad to hear it. MK is my favorite fighter so it always makes me happy when a new entry does well.

tacticalcraptical said on November 6, 2015 at 7:05 a.m.

Then why can I never find matches on PC?

Bigbrook said on November 6, 2015 at 8:31 a.m.

I love our movement,culture,ambition,pation and the whole fighting game genre and community.i see it flurishing into something beyond expectations. All
The hard work and dedication paid off for our love of fighting games

warriors said on November 6, 2015 at 8:51 a.m.

ok try to remember we had this conversation then
and when sf5 flops
please remember to tell me

warriors, "you was right, i was wrong"

HooliganComboFTW said on November 6, 2015 at 9:17 a.m.

This isn't so much that it's great for fighters as a whole and more how it's great for NR/WB in general.

I mean look at GG Xrd sales wise. Objectively it sold considerably less then both Blazblue [main entries], and the Persona 4 Arena games. KI III might have sold well on Xbox One though considering it is lasting at least three seasons. UNiB sold pretty bad. KoF XIII flopped. VF flopped. Dengeki Bunko did ok, but that was because of LN/anime IP like SAO, Railgin, etc.

Even the Capcom fighters have been slowing down sales wise although hopefully SFV regenerates that. Same with Tekken. DoA too although it found success with core fighters + ton of dlc costumes where it will be the currently the longest supported fighter if SFIV finally stops being supported. Smash [assuming you call it a fighter] is like the other consistant

MK9 and Injustice had similar success. Unless fighters start rivaling MKX with their own hot IP [hot enough where people would know what MK is without even playing fighters] + excellent marketing campaign [MKX for example had a ton of commercials and happened during sport events + had hit guest IP Freddy, Scorpion, Jason, Predator, etc], and of course budget level then it's not much overlap to other fighters especially here where it's the competitive aspect most care about here. Comment #2 is already about how it's "dead" when it's completely irrelevant to this sales article.

Although NRs high effort on the single player aspect on record made Capcom take some notes so it won't be as bare like past Capcom fighters so at least we can say that happened.

0x0100 said on November 6, 2015 at 9:55 a.m.

I agree with "pale cast" because most characters seem to be light skinned. (Heh.)

dfly said on November 6, 2015 at 10:47 a.m.

sf5 isnt going to flop, its the new street fighter. sorry if it isnt what you envisioned but its still gonna be #1. game is fun as hell. there's always gonna be haters, you cant please everyone.

GiganV3 said on November 6, 2015 at 10:58 a.m.

It's a shame that barely anyone sticks with MK, for those sales you'd expect more support, but people just buy it for the novelty and ignore the much improved gameplay, they don't learn it, they just mash through the story mode and leave the game.

Agentownshiprebelion said on November 6, 2015 at 11:01 a.m.

Thinking about this more and about companies like Square, I always hoped someone would at least rip off Bushido Blade so I could have a game like that with better graphics. And maybe they could do something with Ehrgeiz. Which I only ever played a sample disc of.

Super_Honda said on November 6, 2015 at 12:12 p.m.

SF5 will most likely be a success, but to be on the SF2-level of success, I’m not too sure. Not even SF4 series could compete with SF2 series' success. That was probably a once in a lifetime and SF2 sparked a huge boom for fighting games.

Horseman_JD said on November 6, 2015 at 1:09 p.m.

Yes and no. When there is 1:1 parity with the PC base. (Which almost seems like it's coming) Too many broken ports and 3rd party hand overs. But there hasn't been demand like this in fighting games i think ever.

AveMcree said on November 6, 2015 at 4:43 p.m.

hahaha good stuff!!

AveMcree said on November 6, 2015 at 4:47 p.m.

whats your point? If anything GG is more hardcore than SF but if the game doesn't sale you can't count on developers to make more..

1ButtonDash said on November 7, 2015 at 5:03 a.m.

The netkode IMO is what destroyed the MKX scene. The game just does not run well online. Play the game offline with people and it's so good. Pretty sad tbh.

And I don't just blame the netkode but the also the MK fighting style, the kinda grounded input delay style just does not fit into an online sort of play. KI for example people praise it for it's amazing online when in fact the STYLE of gameplay it has where many of the move and combos are automated actually work extremely well in an online setting. Most people just say the netcode for that game is amazing not knowing that it's not just entirely that but yet how the game performance transitions into the online connectivity.

This is something SFV is actually doing as well. If you guys notice the way the combos work in SFV they kinda have a delay and increments between hits which sorta works like KI. They are also testing with multiple betas which is amazing as well. Like it or not online is the future of fighting games. SFV is gonna be a step in the right direction.

hozukimaru said on November 7, 2015 at 5:21 a.m.

I like Vgchartz, but this is wrong. I remember when the Witcher 3 was released, and Project Red announced that they had sold 3million copies at the time. Then NPD charts were released with MKX on it, it was number one for a long time, and the witcher 3 was always below it. Not to mention your numbers didn't factor in the PC percentage. With the witcher 3 now at 6million it's very likely MKX sold around 5mil.

IkeMoses said on November 7, 2015 at 1:14 p.m.

Being on just one console ain't the problem. Halo 5 is just on Xbox One and it's selling hella units. There will be over 30 million PS4s in the wild when SFV drops, and if just a tenth of those people buy the game it will be doing well. Let's not forget, the PC version is dropping day and date, and Capcom's making sure there's parity between both ports. They're only projecting 2 million sales right now, and the release should meet that, but SFV needs to smash that if the genre is going to grow.

My doubts have nothing to do with the game or the marketing strategy. My doubts are about the general public's relationship with Street Fighter. Lots of people have nostalgia for the franchise, but nostalgia only draws people in when you go away. Street Fighter hasn't gone away since 2008. People have lots of respect for the series' difficulty and depth, but most fans have no interest in getting that deep with it. They just want to throw fireballs at their homies for a while. This is why Mortal Kombat sells so well. People buy the game, spend a few hours performing all the fatalities on their friends, finish story mode, and move on to the next game feeling satisfied.

AriesWarlock said on November 8, 2015 at 9:08 a.m.

Great news for NR. MKX is great.

soulsatellite said on November 8, 2015 at 5:27 p.m.

I can't even get matches online. I've had one EVER within my 4 days of this game, and it was good, but since then I have been unable to connect to a single opponent. Not sure if I'll be buying this game once I purchase a PS4, considering how utterly unplayable it appears to be online. Such a shame.... I was so excited to learn it, too.


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