Hype Culture – The FGC New Game Hype Cycle

Today, a new Dragon Ball fighting game was announced/leaked. There have been multiple Dragon Ball fighting games, but none of them, to my knowledge, are quite deep and complex enough to be a truly competitive fighting game like that of Street Fighter, Tekken, etc. This one is different though. This one is going to be published by Bandai-Namco (those behind Tekken) and made by Arc System Works (those behind Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, other anime fighters). Apparently, it’s going to be a 3v3 game, not too dissimilar to the Marvel vs. Capcom series by the sounds of it. With all these things in play, it has the potential to be an amazing fighting game. Needless to say, all sorts of people in the FGC are hyped about it. One, its a Dragon Ball game and most of the FGC seems to adore that series. And two, it could be a legitimate fighting game because of the reasons described.

Me? I’m very skeptical. Not really of the game itself; I’m fairly indifferent because I’ve never watched/read anything Dragon Ball related but am kind of interested to see how it plays; but of the hype the FGC has. Now, I’ve, unfortunately, become very skeptical and doubtful of many things as life has gone on, but it’s never without some reason behind it. The reason I’m so skeptical of the FGC’s hype behind it, with so many saying they’ll make it a main game of theirs, is because I’ve seen this all before. I’m not some FGC veteran, I’ve only been around since about 2013, 2014, but it’s all vivid in my mind because this happens every time with a new big fighting game.

If you want the TL;DR version, this is how the FGC New Game Hype Cycle basically goes:

  • Initial Announcement Hype: New major game is announced or leaked. Either a new entry in a major, established series or some new(er) IP that shows promise.
    • FGC Reaction: “Looks so good!” “I’m totally gonna main X, Y, and Z!” “I can finally drop this game I claim to hate but it’s the only one I play!”
  • Release Hype: Game is released. Everyone is playing it and trying it out.
    • FGC Reaction: “Yo! Gimme that tech for Char X!” “Trying out this game on my stream, come watch!”
  • Negativity and Doubts Emerge: Within about a month or so of the game’s release and people have vaguely figured out/learned how the game is played
    • FGC Reaction: “Game is trash!” “Too focused on this aspect of FGs!” “So imbalanced…” *other various excuses* *silently drops game*
  • Back To The Status Quo: By the time EVO rolls around, some people are left, but really just the typical community of that game remains. Most if not all non-regulars will have dropped it after a year.
    • FGC Reaction: *goes back to whatever games they typically prefer*

NOTE: There’s nothing inherently wrong with trying out a new game, even if you didn’t like a previous entry or a similar game. Maybe this new one will be just different enough for some to stick with it. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with not liking a new game after trying it. I don’t really have much a problem with any of this at all. I just get a little disappointed when everyone makes it seem like a sub-community (AFGC, NRS, 3D games, etc.) could grow a lot with this new game, yet that never seems to happen.

Now to expand on it…

Let’s take the most recent example: Injustice 2. Even ignoring the casual appeal NRS games have, the general FGC seemed genuinely interested in it. I held out hope that this would hopefully mean the NRS scene would grow a fair amount with its release, but, as I always knew in the back of mind, many are dropping it within the first month or so. Everyone bought it. A bunch of entries at NLBC and non-NRS-regulars signing up for it at majors (the few there have been since its release). People forgot that they bought an NRS game, and Injustice at that. I knew zoning was going to be super strong, especially early on. I knew how string-based footsies and pressure worked on a basic level. I knew there would be some CHEAP stuff. This doesn’t make me intelligent. I just knew what I was more than likely getting into when I bought the game. And I also knew I liked these things before I bought it.

To be fair, there are plenty of non-NRS-regulars who seem like they’re going to stick with the game for a good while. It doesn’t seem like it’ll be their main game, and it doesn’t have to be, but these handful of players look like they’re actually going to put some effort into sticking with it. But these players seem to be the exception, not the norm.

Another recent example that is still pending on if it follows this cycle is Tekken 7. Now, I did not buy nor do I plan to buy Tekken 7. It seems like a very good game, but I know it’s not really for me. I personally am not willing to put in the time to learn such a legacy game like this and am not too big on 3D fighters in the first place. Just a personal preference. Though if Soul Calibur 6 is announced, that’s another story. Anyways, lots of people have gotten it like with Injustice 2 and it has a huge player base on Steam right now. That’s great! However, I’m already seeing the same signs of this cycle. People bought T7 because it’s supposed to be different and way better than the game they play that they hate. Typically, that game is SFV but I’ve seen this from some NRS players, given how much I dig into that community sometimes. But as one person pointed out in an NRS Discord, to paraphrase, are they enjoying it because they have genuine interest or are they playing because they’re “supposed” to enjoy it? It’s not SFV or whatever, so clearly it’s better, right? Opinions aside, that’s not necessarily true.

What’s going to happen when some of them realize how difficult Tekken is? Even on a basic level. What’s going to happen when they face someone remotely competent? In some games, lower level players still have a chance to play. In Tekken, not dissimilar to KOF, the skill disparity shows…and HARSHLY. They’ll get steamrolled and have no idea what to do. Not necessarily because of mixups or vortex stuff, but purely on Tekken fundamentals. Even if they’d normally be fine with this in games they normally play, the mentality of liking it because you’re supposed to like it never lasts long, especially when you get destroyed constantly. I would know. I tried to like Street Fighter V. Everyone else I knew was playing it and it was obvious it was the next big game. Plus, I loved SF4 (and SF3 and SF2), so why wouldn’t I like SFV? I hid my disdain for it when the beta dropped and the first month of playing it, but after awhile, I couldn’t take it any longer. I HATED that game. I wasn’t necessarily getting bodied either. I beat most of my friends most of the time and didn’t completely awful in locals either. I just hated playing the game. While not everyone is going to come to truly hate Tekken 7 (or Injustice 2 for that matter), people will come to realize that it’s just not their cup of tea and move on. Either back to their old game(s) or to another game altogether.

I think that’s a big problem some players have. They want to main a new game because they supposedly hate their current game. Even if they do truly hate their current game, that doesn’t mean they’re going to like a completely different game altogether. I myself have liked every Street Fighter game I’ve played to some extent. USF4, 3S, ST, the Alpha games, all are fun to me despite their flaws. But I hate SFV. That doesn’t mean I was going to like Xrd or KOFXIV because they weren’t SFV. I just so happen to, but that’s not the case for everyone. Plus I always had NRS games to fall back on too.

Another example was Skullgirls, which was released just a bit before my time, but I’ve seen the history behind it. This was supposed to be the ultimate game for the FGC. It was made by MikeZ, a very well-respected member of the community. Basically, to paraphrase someone in the NRS Discord again, it was supposed to be an FG for the FGC by the FGC. But then some people realized that they don’t like a Marvel/anime style game.  Even some that do still weren’t a huge fan of Skullgirls. That doesn’t make Skullgirls bad by any means, it’s just not for everyone. Same with any other FG.

Back to the current hot topic of the new Dragon Ball game, I fear the same thing is likely to happen. A lot of people who are hyped, to my knowledge, have never really gone deep into an ArcSys fighter, if they’ve ever even touched one in the first place. Especially a lot of the NRS guys who love Dragon Ball. As someone who watched a lot of P4AU and watches and currently plays GGXrd, I think it’s not blasphemous to assume that this Dragon Ball game will be just as grimy. I don’t know too much about BlazBlue, but I know that game has some nasty stuff too. Same with older Guilty Gears as well. From what I hear from veteran GG players, they apparently hated fighting everyone and don’t want any of the old cast or old versions of characters coming back. That’s not much of an exaggeration either. Now, this is still going to be a different game, no doubt about that; I don’t think ArcSys has ever really built a 3v3 game before. But if it’s in anyways similar to previous ArcSys titles or Marvel at all, it’s going to be dumb and as cheap as can be. And in a very anime-fighter kind of way. So when players who aren’t familiar with or don’t really like that kind of game are going to be in for a rude awakening when they try to be competitive in it. Even some of the most hardcore Dragon Ball fans will likely drop it within a month or so. And almost everyone will outside of some anime/Marvel players within a year. And that’s considering the game is any good in the first place. If it’s bad or even just “meh,” all this hype will be forgotten. That’s pretty much with happened with DFC to my knowledge too, though that didn’t quite have the franchise strength of Dragon Ball.

Now, I’m not going to pretend I actually know any of the people I follow. But if I were to guess, I can probably point out which people are going to stick with the game and which ones are not. That list isn’t very long. Maybe 10% of the people I’ve seen and that’s being generous. This doesn’t mean it’s going to be their main game that they dedicate most of their time to, but they’ll at least put some effort towards actually getting good instead of just dismissing the game as “stupid” or “trash” or just silently dropping it.

Though I’ve mostly been talking about gameplay style that turns people off, there’s plenty of other reasons why people drop games too. Sometimes it’s just hypocritical excuses. Like with Injustice 2, people will complain about zoning and then go back to complaining about SFV having no zoning and being too rushdown heavy. Maybe they supposedly don’t like mixups/vortex in Marvel but then they’ll go play an anime fighter (just about any of them, let’s be real). With GG, BB, and other anime fighters, some people will actually say it’s “too anime,” yet they’re ecstatic about the Dragon Ball fighter. Despite some of my interests (some of which I’ve posted about on this blog), I don’t even like anime, yet I still enjoy the anime fighters I’ve tried, most notably Xrd. And I still want a Persona 5 Arena. I had a lot of fun (and frustration) in the small amount of time I had with P4AU. I’ll even give this Dragon Ball fighter a chance if it’s legitimately good and people do actually stick with it past a month, even though I have no vested interest in the franchise it’s based on. But anyways, it’s extra funny(/disappointing/infuriating) to hear this from people who post about anime a lot, even outside of Dragon Ball. I’ll never name names, but I could definitely come up with some if I wanted too. If they mean it’s “too anime” based on the gameplay of anime games, I still don’t get it sometimes because sometimes it comes from Marvel players. The Marvel vs. series is almost an anime game itself! It just doesn’t have the anime style, but that’s about the only real difference.

I did list balance as an excuse people use, but I don’t think that’s actually the reason they dislike a game. Very few games are even remotely balanced and even fewer are even close to being called “fair.” It’s just an excuse people throw around. It’s another hypocritical reason, in my opinion. I usually just disregard it.

Now there are other random reasons people have that I can understand. With NRS games, people don’t like the constant patching. I get that. NRS players don’t really like it either. However, they have yet to do a real balance patch with Injustice 2 so maybe NRS is turning a new leaf. With ArcSys, they don’t like the ArcSys cycle of paying full price for a new version every year. I get that too. They still have some problems with that, but they’re getting better. Rev2 wasn’t full priced and they say that BBCF won’t have an Extend version, so maybe ArcSys is turning a new leaf as well.

There are plenty of other reasons people drop games, understandable and non-hypocritical and not, but this is just a general trend I’ve noticed with the FGC with pretty much every new game. Even SFV suffered the same fate, as per my own experience with the game and other peoples’ as well, despite it still being pretty much the biggest FG (even including Smash).

As the title implies, this is not an FGC specific thing. It’s really just another example of hype culture. It’s just an example I wanted to bring up given how many times it’s happened in just the past month, including the start of another one today. Hopefully I was able to explain myself well enough. I tend to be fairly long-winded in my explanations and not sure if I got my point across well. I feel like the TL;DR version at the start actually does the better job, but whatever.

To be honest, I really just wanted an excuse to rant about it and cure some of my salt over it. If reading this irked you, ignore this. Quite frankly, I don’t really know what I’m talking about anyways.

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