Why Dragon Ball FighterZ may have the potential to be the biggest anime fighting game yet

What do the numbers from other Dragon Ball games and media tell us?

Posted by Nicoma 'Melchiorus' Christian, guest writer • October 26, 2017 at 7:42 p.m. PDT

In the fighting game scene the anime genre has generally been less popular than its counterparts. This has been the case whether you're comparing viewership or sales numbers with some of the genre's biggest presences like Street Fighter or Tekken.

We have recently come into an age where Capcom, perhaps the biggest developer in the FG industry right now, has seen some notable disfavor from fans. They took a hit in consumer trust when Street Fighter 5's launch failed to impress.

Step in Arc System Works with something new. Fighting games have typically been dominated by a few titles that push out sequels. Tekken, Street Fighter, Smash Bros., and even Arc System Works' own - Guilty Gear and Blazblue - have many sequels. So when Dragon Ball FighterZ was revealed it was met with wide eyes and happy faces.

It isn't all sunshine and rainbows though, as there are some who think the game may flop. This is a possibility. You never know whether people will buy a game until the day it is released. But there are plenty of stats we can use to predict the outcome.

The first and most obvious part of the equation is that this is a Dragon Ball game. It shouldn't surprise anyone when I say that Dragon Ball is an immensely popular franchise. In fact, Dragon Ball Super managed to get higher ratings than the most popular anime, One Piece, in Japan. The 94th episode had a 6.3% rating while One Piece had a 5.8% according to comicbook.com.

The same is true overseas where Dragon Ball Super had 1.06 million viewers on Toonami in the US. It's a big show and that means that it pulls people who love the franchise. Even if they don't have that much interest in fighting games, they may pick it up.

So how big can this game get? We already have a few Dragon Ball games that we can pull data from to make more of a solid prediction. In 2016 Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 was released. It is a combination of fighting and role-playing genres. According to Bandai Namco Xenoverse 2 shipped 1.4 million copies in the first two weeks. . Xenoverse 2 sold more copies within half a month period than the first game sold in a month.

Another title that may be an even more compelling comparison is a game from the same developer as Dragon Ball FighterZ. Dragon Ball Z Extreme Butoden is a 2D fighting game by Arc System Works for 3DS. According to Siliconera in 2015 Extreme Butoden sold 74,660 copies in its first week.

That number is comparable to how many copies the original Xenoverse sold. Bandai Namco announced that Xenoverse ended up selling 2.5 million copies by April 2015.

It should be noted that Extreme Butoden was only released on one console, the 3DS, so it did not achieve the same success in overall sales as Xenoverse. But it is still impressive that it managed to sell comparably at first.

We've established that there is demand for Dragon Ball fighting games, and that they've managed to sell pretty well. For comparison we can take a look at one of Capcom's latest titles, Street Fighter 5.

Looking back to August 2017, we see that Street Fighter 5 sold 1.7 million copies. Numbers that aren't too far away from what Bandai Namco was touting for Xenoverse 2. With that knowledge it becomes more plausible that an anime fighting game could achieve similar success.

Dragon Ball FighterZ will be releasing for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Windows. That means it will be reaching many more potential consumers than Arc System Works other recent Dragon Ball 2D fighting game.

Not only that, but there is a pretty considerable amount of hype for the game. Many websites outside of FGC-centric sites are covering it in-depth including Gamespot, IGN, Polygon, Game Informer and more, so there is a lot of visibility for the title.

Dragon Ball FighterZ also won a Game Critics Award for its showing at 2017's E3 conference. It beat out other titles like Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, ARMS, and Pokken Tournament DX. Praises for its visuals and how true it stayed to the original source material rang out with little downtime in between.

We come back now to the original question, how big can this game get? Considering the information we have, it has a pretty good chance of being successful. It seems like it would have to mess up pretty hard with execution to be considered a flop.

If it manages to get near the amount of success Xenoverse has, that would be a great victory for Arc System Works. It is hard to predict what sales for other Arc System Works titles like Guilty Gear and Blazblue have been, since they don't put the numbers out. But it's a safe bet they aren't selling 1.5 million copies.

If it manages to sell that well we could be looking at the beginning of a new ongoing fighting game franchise. Which is something that would be good for the FGC. Not only that, but it would come in the form of an anime fighting game.

It may be too early to tell, but I will be very interested in seeing what the stream numbers will be like for Dragon Ball FighterZ. With Street Fighter's 1.7 million sales, it managed to be the highest viewed game at EVO 2017. What could an anime fighting game do at the event with a similar amount of sales numbers and some good hype?

One worry for hopeful fans is that there is already a Dragon Ball franchise in a similar space; the Xenoverse games I mentioned earlier. It is possible that people won't be as eager to buy a new game if they already have one they're satisfied with.

But there shouldn't be enough overlap to be much of an issue. 2D fighting games and 3D fighting games tend to have different enough audiences that they can both be successful. Plus Xenoverse isn't as much of a traditional fighting game as Dragon Ball FighterZ.

Dragon Ball FighterZ also has mechanics that are reminiscent of Marvel vs. Capcom with assists and a 3-man team. This could bring a good amount of people that love Marvel games as well.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Arc System Works other games were not typically published by a large games publisher. Most of their games were published by themselves and Aksys Games. Having the backing of Bandai Namco means that they have access to marketing budgets they did not have before.

This is a big deal for Arc System Works. If it doesn't go well I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't find Namco as eager to work with them in the future. If it does go well they may be in a good position to get even more backing from them.

Most importantly for us, if Dragon Ball FighterZ turns out to actually be the great game it looks like it can be, we get something fun to play. The potential is there, and they have a great franchise to draw from. Now we need to see the execution and support for the game going forward.

There is a lot to love about what we've seen so far from Dragon Ball FighterZ. With its beautiful graphics, and exciting gameplay, we could be looking at the next big hit in the fighting games scene. We'll found out when it releases on January 26th, 2018. Until then tune in to Event Hubs for all the juicy details leading up to release.

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