Where were all of the fighting game announcements at E3 2019 and will they be coming back?

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • June 16, 2019 at 7:32 p.m. PDT

E3 has now wrapped up another year as the biggest video gaming event in the world, but all of the reveals and announcements probably felt a bit lacking for the hardcore fighting game fans when compared to previous showings.

The biggest FGC-related reveals we did receive were of course Banjo-Kazooie and Dragon Quest Hero's announcement for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate along with Rimururu joining Samurai Shodown and Bleeding Edge coming from Ninja Theory, but where was everything else?

Last year gave us the huge unveiling of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with the 'Everyone is Here' trailer along with things like Jump Force, Dead or Alive 6 gameplay, playable Cody for Street Fighter 5, Dragon Ball FighterZ coming to the Switch, Soul Calibur 6 info and other goodies.

Fighting games continue to be a relatively niche market aside from a few standout titles though it feels like we're seeing a resurgence in their popularity with new game releases coming much faster than they did before, so why were they almost completely left out of the limelight this year?

I believe that three major factors have accounted for that absence in 2019, and those issues pertain to developers / publishers saving reveals for EVO, the transition of many fighting games to a somewhat 'games as a service model' and the fact that we're quickly coming up on the end of the current console generation.

Let's dive a little deeper into this trio that appears to have taken away some of our annual E3 hype — though we did finally end up seeing Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

EVO 2019

E3 is the place where all of the publishers big and small come together to show off what they've got cooking in those ovens from just about every genre imaginable. If you're not part of EA, Ubisoft, Square Enix or any of the first party console makers, it's easy to get lost among the hundreds of other titles.

EVO, on the other hand, is catered specifically to the fighting game audience by the fighting game audience — usually — so all eyes that are at all interested in the genre will be tuning in to see the world class action in store.

This has led most of the big fighting game publishers to have some sort of announcement for their mainstage events as we saw in 2018 where Street Fighter 5, Tekken 7, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Soul Calibur 6 and Super Smash Bros. all had new characters and content to show off and typically multiple at that — except Smash Ultimate was more of an announcement of an announcement.

We already know that Capcom is biding their time until EVO to announce anything substantial for Street Fighter 5, and it seems as though pretty much all of the other nine main titles may also be setting up for that Saturday / Sunday prime time real estate.

There's still unannounced or currently un-shown DLC coming in the near future for Mortal Kombat 11, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Soul Calibur 6, Samurai Shodown, Smash Ultimate, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle and more with each of their calendars appearing to potentially line up around that August period.

Don't be too surprised when NetherRealm shows off at least Spawn and the other two guest characters, Arc System Works unveils the sixth fate for Cross Tag Battle and / or Bandai Namco gives us trailers for Janemba or Gogeta and Broly.

Games as a Service and Fighting Games

It feels as though the majority of online or competitive-based video games have moved towards a 'games as a service' model including fighting games which means that they regularly update and add new content to a single title instead of developing sequels immediately after the base game ships.

Hell fighting games were probably ahead of the curb there with their DLC characters, balance adjustments and season passes when those were previously tied to things like map packs in Call of Duty.

The problem with those games, however, is their reveals for new content are not as sexy to the more general audience and only really appeal towards those currently or previously engaged with the platform.

These ongoing titles are still shown off regularly at E3, but that's mostly because the publishers putting on those conferences almost always have a big stake in them like Ubisoft with Rainbow Six Siege and EA with Apex Legends.

Pretty much none of the most notable fighting game developers / publishers ever have their own stage shows like Capcom, Bandai Namco and Warner Bros. and instead rely on Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to get into the spotlight. We did see this with Street Fighter 5 and Marvel vs. Capcom appearing on Sony's stages multiple times in past years, but the PlayStation makers weren't there this year leaving out one third of the available showtime for first parties.

Microsoft does have their own first party fighting game franchise in Killer Instinct, but it seems as though we'll be waiting until the next generation to see any more of that. Meanwhile, Nintendo will keep rolling through with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's success.

The Next Generation

Sony has talked about the future of PlayStation, and Microsoft more recently unveiled their Project Scarlett console at E3 this year — sort of — which means that 2020 will probably be completely focused around the next generation of hardware and video games.

With both of the consoles likely due out in around a year and a half, probably most of if not all of the fighting games currently in development are being made for next gen, and we can't really see them yet since Sony and Microsoft hasn't shown anything off themselves yet in terms of what games will look like.

There are potentially some exceptions like The King of Fighters 15 which we know exists yet have seen nothing of, but we very likely know every fighting game that is still coming to the PS4 and Xbox One right now.

We also know that both consoles will be backwards compatible with the current hardware which will potentially make cross-generational games as we've known them to this point a thing of the past. There's still a lot of question marks about how the next generation of games is going to go, but we can be sure there are probably some exciting developments going on behind the scenes just waiting on Sony and Microsoft to pull the trigger.

What do you think? Will we see fighting games return to E3 in a more meaningful way with next gen or do you think publishers and devs are going to keep moving more towards events like EVO, Capcom Cup and the Tekken World Tour Finals to show off the biggest reveals for the genre as a whole?

Image source: Pixabay.

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