The Lack Of 3D Fighting Games And Their Declining Popularity

While there are a ton of 2D fighting games out there, 3D Fighting games have not been very popular lately.

When it comes to modern fighting games, you’ll find the game stores heavily dominated by 2D fighting games. In contrast, 3D fighting games haven’t been very popular lately, except for Tekken 7.

The fighter genre in gaming has always been popular. In the 90s, we had Street Fighter in the arcades, along with several other fighting games that dominated casual and tournament play. Today, fighting games are still quite famous. But their popularity is often short-lived and is pretty easily overshadowed by modern FPS, Battle Royale, and MOBA games.

Fighting games can be divided into two categories: 3D and 2D fighting games.

As the name suggests, 3D fighting games feature a three-dimensional stage where the players can move forward and backward, as well as sideways. On the other hand, 2D fighting games feature forward and backward movement throughout the stage.

Today, we have many popular fighting games, but most of these games are 2D. GUILTY GEAR -STRIVE-, DRAGON BALL FighterZ, and Street Fighter V maintain a decent player count.

THE KING OF FIGHTERS XV was quite hyped when released earlier this year in February. However, like most fighting games, it died down and barely sees any new players these days.

Comparing several fighting games based on 24 hours peak player count.
Comparing several fighting games based on 24 hours peak player count.

GUILTY GEAR -STRIVE-‘s developer, Arc System Works, released DNF DUEL earlier this year. The game showed a lot of promise judging from the trailers and advertisements.

But it also died down after a few days of release. DNF DUEL’s fall was mainly due to several characters being massively overpowered. And, because of the game’s mechanics itself not being very interesting.

Despite all these new 2D fighting games coming out and quickly burning out, video game companies still keep investing in them. However, some games do turn out to be successful.

Mortal Kombat 11, which came out in April 2019, still sees a fair number of players. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R, which came out on September 1, 2022, is still doing great and maintaining a consistent player count.

GUILTY GEAR Xrd -REVELATOR- and REV 2 was recently announced to receive a rollback netcode update, which attracted a lot of new and old players back to the game.

Street Fighter 6 is set to come out in 2023, and it does look promising by the looks of it. But that’s the story of every other fighting game before release. However, the one thing that is different about Street Fighter 6 is the unique open-world gameplay that might change fighting games for good.

While the popularity of fighting games, in general, is somewhat declining, 3D fighting games have it worse. Virtua Fighter first introduced the 3D fighter genre. A game developed by SEGA in the 90s. The game is still around in the shape of Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown, which was released back in 2021.

Virtua Fighter was released back in 1993 and introduced the 3D fighter genre.
Virtua Fighter was released back in 1993 and introduced the 3D fighter genre.

The 3D fighter genre was massively popular between 1997-2005, with many consoles and arcade machines featuring games experimenting with the new genre after the massive success of Tekken 3 worldwide.

Today, the only 3D fighter game you’ll see doing good is Tekken 7, which came out in 2015. There have been a few other modern 3D fighter games, such as Dead or Alive 6 and SOULCALIBUR VI. These games aren’t anywhere near 2D fighting games regarding player count.

We also have Virtua Fighter 5 in the 3D fighting genre, but that game is dead. Some less popular 3D fighter games, such as Bloody Roar and Bushido Blade, deserve some love but are often overshadowed by Tekken 7 or other 2D fighting games.

Tekken 7 is currently the most popular 3D fighting game.
Tekken 7 is currently the most popular 3D fighting game.

The point is that if a new player wants to get into fighting games, they’ll instantly be drawn into the genre by Tekken 7 or some 2D fighter game. Tekken 7 single-handedly sustains what’s left of the modern 3D fighter genre.

Perhaps, it is the dominating popularity of Tekken 7 that scares away any competition other new traditional 3D fighting games might have to offer.

It would be nice to see some new 3D fighting games in the coming years. But, for now, we’ll have to make do with Tekken 8, which was announced at the State of Play event in September 2022. Hopefully, Tekken 8 will bring some good news for the 3D fighting games genre.

Do let us know in the comments section down below whether you feel the same way.

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Matt Toledo


Matt is a student from the US. He is an avid gamer and is interested in the intersection of the gaming industry and finance. He is a fan of Halo, Mass Effect and Star Wars

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