Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter were some of the first fighting games that drew a competitive crowd in addition to the casual players. While the internet was still getting off the ground, people were gathering at local arcades to play for fame and money. These days, there are a plethora of websites that cater to competitive fighting games, which makes it considerably easier to find local, regional and national tournaments for almost every game under the sun. However, some fighting games get a much higher turnout than others, making them far more appealing to tournament organizers.
Mortal Kombat 9 and Injustice: Gods Among Us both fared well in the tournament scene. MK9 was featured at multiple Major League Gaming (MLG) events, as well as multiple appearances at the biggest fighting game tournament in the world, the Evolution Fighting Game Championships (Evo). Injustice didn’t fare quite as well, but it has been featured at Evo twice now, and had some time at MLG.
When Mortal Kombat X releases sometime in 2015, it’s very likely that MLG will pick up the game for at least a test run. Warner Bros. was clear that the company will sponsor competitive events with bonuses to the payout and other perks. Last year at Evo 2013, the company sponsored a live stream just for NetherRealm games, so at the very least, expect to see Mortal Kombat X at Evo and MLG.
The big question is how people will react to the game. Will it have big turnouts that rival Capcom fighters? Will it stay around the same level of turnout that MK9 and Injustice received (about half the turnout of most Capcom tournaments)? Killer Instinct is the only brand new fighting game that has released recently, and it was at MLG for the first time last month, with an Evo appearance set or this weekend.
Mortal Kombat X has an advantage over Killer Instinct in that it isn’t limited to next generation consoles. Many people showed interest in KI, but have not played much of the game due to the fact that they don’t own an Xbox One. MKX will be available for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, covering both next-gen systems, but it will also be available on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. That means every person who owns Ultra Street Fighter IV for the Xbox 360 or PS3 will have immediately access to MKX if they so choose.
The addition of multiple fighting styles should also help MKX in the competitive community. More options are almost always a good thing in fighting games. The real question is going to be whether or not the fighting styles will be unique enough and play well enough to avoid having the competitive scene claim one fighting style rules over the others. If that happens, having multiple fighting styles won’t matter because the competitive community will claim that each character only has one viable style in competitive play.
Finally, the release date of the game will play a big role in how well it performs in tournaments. If the game is released early enough, it has a good chance of being featured at Evo 2015. If that happens, many of the tournaments before and after Evo will use the title. Before MK9 released, NetherRealm allowed Evo organizers to take an exclusive look at the game in order to determine if it would be worthy of an Evo appearance. The Evo lineup is almost always announced in January, but MK9 didn’t release until April. The early look at the game allowed the Evo organizers to give it a spot in the big event even though it wasn’t available for purchase when the lineup was announced.
The same thing could happen with MKX, but even if the Evo organizers get an early look, the game would need to release early enough for it to be a viable option. Evo takes place in July. If the game releases in mid-June, that doesn’t give players much time to learn the game. The game needs to be available roughly two months before Evo in order for the organizers to give it serious consideration. If that happens, expect a healthy tournament scene for at least the first year MKX is available.