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You may want to scoff at WatchMojo's top 20 fighting games of all time list but it's still important to understand their picks

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • April 18, 2022 at 3:57 p.m. PDT • Comments: 42

Fighting games as we know them have only existed for about 30 years now with hundreds of fantastic titles to potentially spend your time with, but how do you determine which is the best of the best?

Well, the masters of online listicle videos, WatchMojo, recently released their top 20 fighting games of all time, and while your initial reaction may be to scoff at some of their decisions, it's still important for us to understand the picks.

Things do admittedly start out a bit strange with WatchMojo's list, considering the first 3 selections are War of the Monsters, Def Jam: Fight for New York and Power Stone, but we'll talk about more of their significance in a bit.

The first "traditional" fighting game of the countdown is Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, which I'd certainly put on my own personal list, and WatchMojo describes as an improved and refined version of an already strong Persona spin-off with better gameplay, impressive presentation and a fun story mode.

From there we do get to see some more questionable picks like the original Darkstalkers and Injustice 2, but there's also plenty that are difficult to really argue against including The King of Fighters 13, Tekken 3, Mortal Kombat 9 and Killer Instinct.

So why should we pay attention to rankings from people who aren't very deep in the fighting game community?

Well, that's precisely why we should.

It is pretty obvious that the people behind this list know and enjoy fighters on some level, and their target audience are also more casual fans or at least those curious in the genre.

From places like FGC Twitter, Discord and even EventHubs, we may think that we know what fighting game fans want and expect from titles, but we don't exactly make up the bulk of people actually going out and buying titles most of the time. They do.

No matter how you may feel about it, the casual audience will probably always be larger than the competitive scene — unless all of the casuals are chased off.

So it's important to hear and remember why other people play fighting games and what they're looking for out of them.

If we judge the WatchMojo list from that lens, we can see the repeating themes present in most of the picks: strong visual presentation, mostly snappy gameplay that's easy enough to pick up and push buttons against friends and additional content to keep players busy (Story Mode, customization, unlockables and other interesting features).

That's why Street Fighter 5's launch lacking most of those felt like such a slap to the face to everyone that wasn't the hardest of the hardcore while others like Dragon Ball FighterZ, Mortal Kombat and Super Smash Bros. absolutely exploded.

Although players like us may be the loudest with wants and demands, it's just as important for developers to pay just as much attention to that casual base if a game is to succeed financially.

That's kinda been a mixed bag over the past generation though, so we can hope that those actually making the games are putting more effort into knowing what both of the big audiences want and how they can implement features that offer something appealing for all sides.

And while most of us originally came from that more casual side, there also remains the issue of how to effectively take the button mashers and make them care enough to learn more of what fighters have to offer — or make them realize there's a competitive space in the first place.

This generation is just getting started, so it remains to be seen how the genre will continue to adapt and evolve alongside other types of games with similar audience makeups like shooters and MOBAs.

You can check out WatchMojo's full top 20 list below, and it's hard to deny their picks for the top 3 (although your placings may vary).

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