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Dragon Ball FighterZ will have a very difficult time surviving in its current state

Is this really how it ends?

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • April 25, 2022 at 8:17 p.m. PDT • Comments: 27

Dragon Ball FighterZ flew with the highest of highs in terms of both community support and sales this past generation, but it's looking like the game could come crashing down in a fairly sad and unnecessary way.

With Lab Coat Android 21 and the current state of the game, FighterZ is going to have a difficult time surviving, but that doesn't mean the popular title is immediately doomed.

Feelings about the fighter were already becoming a bit divisive regarding the rise of the "fusion meta" with characters like Vegito and Gogeta becoming more and more prominent on competitive teams, and then Lab Coat 21 came and threw gasoline on the fire.

We've previously discussed why the latest DLC character essentially breaks DBFZ (and how to fix her) as well as the discussion surrounding potentially banning her from tournaments, so we won't be going into that in as much detail here.

Instead, we're going to focus more today on the outlook of FighterZ's competitive scene along with how the game is doing as a whole.

Suffocating, Indifferent Competition

The part of DBFZ's community most in danger of quitting is obviously the smaller competitive scene, and we're already seeing signs of its tournament decline.

Although the numbers are not final, both Evo 2022 and Combo Breaker 2022 are showing pretty shockingly low registration for FighterZ.

Combo Breaker is only a month away, and Dragon Ball is currently sitting at 8th in terms of entrants signed up.

While it wouldn't be a shock to see a fighting game's numbers begin to drop after 4 years on the market, DBFZ is getting beaten out by titles older than it in Tekken 7 and Street Fighter 5 that have also stopped receiving new content.

FighterZ happens to be lagging behind games that have sold a fraction of what it has between Melty Blood: Type Lumina and BlazBlue: Central Fiction — and that's not a knock against those titles either.

Texas Showdown had a similarly ratioed turnout this past weekend with only 83 players in the bracket, and Lab Coat 21 featured in at least 6 of the top 8 teams.

With longtime pros like PG|HookGangGod and others publicly expressing they no longer look forward to competing in DBFZ events, it's clear the competition is unhealthy right now.

"[Lab Coat 21's] actually a tier 0 character," said longtime competitor Cloud805 in a video discussing banning Lab Coat 21 earlier this month. "She's only going to make the game even worse for the community from here. The community was already feeling iffy about the fusion meta, but a threat even worse has made an appearance."

Dragon Ball FighterZ could have been poised to make a triumphant return to offline majors in 2022 after dealing with 2 years of online tournaments with its bad netcode like we're seeing with the explosion going on in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's neck of the woods right now, but that's not happening.

These complaints could have been somewhat placated with the announcement of a new Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour this year, but there's no sign of that showing up either.

The competitive community will not disappear overnight and likely will remain a "big" title at tournaments until at least Evo.

With the game's current decline and animosity growing in the playerbase though, it's hard to see it keeping that top game status much beyond that.

But What About the Casuals?

As a Dragon Ball game, FighterZ obviously brings with it a much larger audience than the competitively-minded players, so how are they dealing with all of this?

Things do appear to be healthier on that front although it is more difficult to accurately gauge.

There may be some cracks starting to show there too, however.

Taking a look at the Steam Charts numbers for how many people are still playing the game on PC, FighterZ has dropped to an average of around 1,161 users at any given time.

Those numbers are the lowest 2-month average the game has seen since October–November 2019 when GT Goku was still running rampant.

It also puts DBFZ now below all of the other major fighting games available on the platform during that time including SF5, Tekken 7, Guilty Gear Strive and The King of Fighters 15.

A drop like this isn't large enough to show that FighterZ is in big trouble as a whole right now, but it's going to be very interesting to see what those numbers are like in the coming months.

Unfortunately, it's much more difficult to gauge where the game is at on console although anecdotal evidence may suggest DBFZ is still doing alright there too.

When hopping on the game to do some research tonight, the lobbies in my region on PlayStation 4 were still pretty full and maybe only slightly lower than where they were right after Lab Coat 21 released.

While Lab Coat 21's tournament dominance won't have nearly as much of an impact on the more casual base, their population is still likely in jeopardy too.

Without any word on future updates and DLC, more players will migrate to different and newer games that are still seeing support although that is how the life cycle for fighters tends to go in general.

It doesn't have to be that way, however, if Bandai Namco would just come out and tell their players what it is they're planning to do with DBFZ now.

The burden of figuring out whether or not to ban a busted and unhealthy character should not be forced upon the community that's supported the game they enjoyed with years of their time.

Bandai Namco are the ones that need to "save" FighterZ from its current state, but for all we know, they just quietly sent it out to the pasture already and moved on.

All good things must come to an end. Seeing such an important game for growing and building bridges across the FGC go out like this though is a sad pill we don't want to swallow.

Image via top8er by Riokaru and Elenriqu3 through zkelviin.

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