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The Japan Fighting Game Publishers Roundtable was a big step forward but had problems which could be ironed out in the future

Getting every one of the big players together should not be overlooked

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • August 6, 2020 at 10:38 a.m. PDT • Comments: 16

Longtime Tekken director Katsuhiro Harada and Bandai Namco certainly deserve props for organizing an event which saw representatives from Capcom, Arc System Works, Koei Tecmo, Arika and SNK all come together to answer fan questions and reveal what's in store for their games including Street Fighter 5, Samurai Shodown, Soul Calibur 6, Guilty Gear Strive and even Fighting EX Layer.

The Japan Fighting Game Publishers Roundtable brought every single one of the country's big fighting game developers into one digital room publicly which ended up as quite the success story despite some of the glaring flaws present in their initial meeting.

Seeing the likes of Guilty Gear creator Daisuke Ishiwatari alongside Street Fighter 2 designer Akira Nishitani would have been something many fighting game fans would have killed to be a fly on the wall for in years past, but instead a world-wide audience got to see them live and talking about their thoughts on the genre they've worked on for decades in some cases.

Many times, the stream felt like a big step in the right direction for the FGC for the ideas presented and laid out even though there were a significant number of stumbles along the way too.

Hearing nearly all of the team come out in favor of trying to work cross-platform play into their titles felt like a big win, and it was also interesting and engaging to hear about the problems needed to be ironed out to make those goals a reality.

The Tekken director appeared to put most of his cards out on the table as to why crossplay isn't more of a realized feature in fighting games right now by stating that the issues aren't so much on the technical side but the costs involved in getting it off of the ground, all of the businesses involved and running their own servers.

This platform gave ArcSys' Kazuto Sekine the opportunity to talk about his own experience outside of Harada's when he followed that up with the challenges of getting a game to feel the same across different types of hardware where one could have something like lower input latency over others.


Harada holds up picture of Team Ninja leader Yosuke Hayashi as Yoehi Shimbori speaks which causes the other developers to crack up

Where some cracks began to really show, however, were the following questions about arcade sticks and the future of fighting game interfaces which quickly appeared to go on without much direction to steer the conversation.

While it did allow the conversations to feel a bit more candid, hearing multiple game directors go into further tangents about the ways their teams could potentially use artificial intelligence going forward felt like it was eating up time from other topics the community would rather hear discussed.

Outside of Tekken's upcoming improved online and Fighting EX Layer's new rollback netcode update, there was essentially no talk about online play despite being perhaps the most heated topic within the worldwide FGC for well over a year at this point — at a time when traditional offline tournaments aren't really possible.

Perhaps the most impactful thing to occur during the entire stream was Harada's push to get all of those companies to share their tech and developments with each other which could pave the way for the next generation of fighting games to advance the genre as a whole though it of course remains to be seen how / if things will actually change within these traditionally competitive corporations.

"Outside of Tekken's upcoming improved online and Fighting EX Layer's new rollback netcode update, there was essentially no talk about online play despite being perhaps the most heated topic within the worldwide FGC for well over a year at this point — at a time when traditional offline tournaments aren't really possible"

Jiyuna and Tekken producer Michael Murray generally did a great job keeping non-Japanese speakers up to speed about the discussions taking place, but there was still a lot of information either lost in translation or essentially missed due to there being a total of 12 different speakers present.

Since they were not taking questions live, there appears to be little reason to broadcast the roundtable at the same time of the recording considering getting them together in advance could have allowed for full translations and captions for every speaker along with editing that could help put the focus on those actively discussing at any particular point.

The second half of the stream focused on reveals made by those developers present which ended up being another source of disappointment for many watching the event live.

Capcom, the Granblue Fantasy: Versus guys, and the Dragon Ball FighterZ reps all pretty much punted to tell fans to look forward to future announcements in the coming weeks while Koei Tecmo didn't really have much to say / show at all for Dead or Alive.

SNK simply announced Samurai Shodown would be receiving a third season of DLC without anything else to really show while the King of Fighters 15 remained a mystery as well.

Only Bandai Namco and ArcSys' Guilty Gear Strive team had full trailers to reveal which, while pretty great, didn't seem to meet the expectations of players who believed they'd be receiving an hour of big news in the absence of the typical EVO announcements from this point in the year.

It is not the fault of Harada or the roundtable organizers that most other publishers wished to hold their own specialized events though it might have been better to be more up front with what was going to be there like the Koei Tecmo guys did early on to temper expectations a bit.

One benefit that wasn't fully explored during the stream as much either was the other directors / producers sharing their own thoughts and feelings about the announcements shown though it was there in part.

Overall, it's easy to see this roundtable event as a win for the FGC even if fans were disappointed in the topics discussed and announcements shown.

Harada proved to be a pretty great host who could lead / steer the conversations a good bit along with making his colleagues and viewers laugh with his visual print out gags and other jokes that had us wondering who he was going to put up next.

This initial stream felt like a proof of concept in many ways by bringing together a dozen of the heads of the Japanese development scene, and Harada appears keen on doing another stream or more streams in the future.

They do need to iron out many of the finer details for an engaging production like moving to a pre-recorded format and maybe even splitting streams into Q&A sessions and reveals separately.

The first of its kind roundtable was far from perfect, but it marked a truly unique opportunity that we can hopefully see return in more refined forms in the near future.

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