When someone says “fighting games,” what do you think of? arcades? franchise like street fighter, Mortal Kombator Tekken? Maybe a fightstick or specialized controllers like the hitbox? Big tournaments like EVO? All of that would make sense. But what you might not associate fighting games with is the PC.
That would have made sense for a long time. Fighting games were something you played on consoles. Often, big series like Tekken and Street Fighter weren’t even released on PC. When they did, they were usually paralyzed by things like the mandatory games for Windows Live integration. And of course you probably want a controller to play one, not a keyboard. The PC had a lot against it when it came to fighting games.
All of that has changed in the last few years, and now the PC might be where the genre has found its steadiest home. Part makes sense. PC games look and run better than console games, provided you have the right hardware. Modern fighters also tend to have significantly less input lag – the difference between pressing a button and seeing the resulting action on screen – on PC than on consoles.
The difference may seem small; It’s generally just a few extra frames, but that can make the difference between reacting to fast overhead and getting hit by one. These are the things that can determine the outcome of a game. Even big developers like it Tekken Mastermind Katsuhiro Harada has openly stated his preference for the PC as a platform.
The perfect platform
It’s not just the performance increase; The other major benefit of PC is that gamers can use their favorite input method without too much hassle, whether it’s a fightstick, keyboard, hitbox, traditional gamepad, or something custom. Even if your game doesn’t support your favorite controller out-of-the-box, you can probably use it if you’re willing to put in a little work. The same does not apply to consoles; You’ll have to stick with the controllers your platform supports unless you’re willing to buy a converter.
And then of course there are mods. Would you like your favorite character to wear custom clothes, get new colors, or maybe replace them with John Cena? There’s a mod for that. Do you want to change the music, UI, battle intros, or the voices of the game’s characters? There is a mod for that too. Or maybe you just want to connect your game to the online servers faster. Whatever you’re looking for, chances are you can find it. And if you can’t, maybe you can just make it yourself.
The PC also facilitates streaming and video editing for these games. You don’t need to grab your footage from a console or download it from the cloud or use an app to use Twitch. All you need is a copy of OBS and a working internet connection. Want to save a specific replay or cut out a hype moment? There is no easier place for this than a PC. It’s no wonder that many of the biggest names in FGC stream their games and create their content – often featuring their favorite mods – on PC.
Carrying the fighting game torch
The advantages are apparent. But what the FGC’s platform has really enabled is keeping beloved games alive. A PC version of a fighting game is essentially a guarantee that the game in question will be able to sustain a community long after the console versions released in parallel have been discontinued. Take Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R as an an example. The 5th and last revision of 2002 Guilty Gear XX, Accent Core Plus R is essentially an updated PS2 game.
Developer Arc Systems Works reworked it and released it on multiple systems including PS3, Xbox 360 and finally Switch. But the version that almost everyone plays is on PC. The Xbox 360 and PS3 are legacy platforms, and the Switch isn’t exactly known for its great online gaming. The 2015 PC release allowed a small but dedicated community to keep the game alive while growing its player base.
Ultimately, Plus R was updated with Rollback Netcode, the gold standard for online fighter play, and the player base has only grown since then. Arc Sys took note of this success and has since updated several of its older titles with online games.
The company recently announced that both are the case Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 and Dragon Ball Fighter Z would also get rollback updates, but there’s a catch. The console versions of Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 will not receive these updates because revealer was released on both PS3 and PS4 while Dragon Ball Fighter Z receive the updates about new versions for the Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 consoles. However, if you already own the games on PC, these updates are free. Unsurprisingly, player counts on Steam have skyrocketed since the announcement.
And not only Arc Systems Works supports the platform. Capcom has built cross-play options into Street Fighter V so PC and console players can play together. Tekken 7, the first game in the series to be released on PC, had a PC version that was so well received that the 2021 EVO Online tournament for the game was actually held on PC. EVO is owned by Sony, and every other game this year hosted their tournaments on PlayStation.
The Future of Fighting (With Friends!)
The PC can help keep games alive even if the developers don’t provide official releases. Emulators like Fightcade provide a platform for playing games that currently don’t have official rollback versions on modern consoles, such as: Street Fighter III: 3rd Strikefeaturing some of the best netcodes in the business.
These projects also help developers determine which games deserve a re-release like the recent one Capcom Fighting Collection and make sure they are popular enough to have a spot in offline events and be fertile ground for content creators. We’re also starting to see online tournaments prioritizing the PC versions of certain games, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago, and encouraging developers to implement cross-platform play. For some games such as Guilty Gear strutsthe PC version is so popular that most games are played on PC rather than consoles.
This new found popularity isn’t going to change everything. Offline tournaments will probably always take place on consoles because it’s cheaper, and the console versions of fighting games will therefore always be important. But the PC has expanded the market; Now anyone can play fighting games provided they have a computer with the right hardware or download something like the infamous Guilty Gear Strive Potato Mod.
Gamers can modify and tweak games to their heart’s content, stream and record content more easily, and use any controller they choose. But most importantly, even if they stop getting balance patches or a sequel or two comes out, these games and the communities that form within them can stay relevant longer. Fighting games started in arcades, but they now live on our computers. And that’s good for everyone, whether you play there or not.