The fighting game genre is having a golden age right now

I say this not just because we’re seeing fantastic releases like Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2, KoF XIV, Tekken 7 and the upcoming Dragonball FighterZ, BlazBlue Cross Battle Tag, and Fighting Layer EX – but also because of the history of this genre on the PC platform.

Not just a year ago, ArcSystemWorks ported the latest Guilty Gear (then latest title Revelator) to PC almost six months late compared to the console release, just because. And the previous King of Fighters title (KoF XIII) took two years to arrive on Steam. Even Street Fighter IV (which people seem to remember much more fondly than V) had several months of delay before it crawled its way to its eventual PC release.

The reality is that, for decades, gamers on PC have been treated like second-class citizens – receiving delayed ports of games that have long died out –  with the ports being of questionable quality too, which the community had to deal with and fix themselves. With the latest releases in all of these franchises, we’re seeing simultaneous (or thereabouts) release on all platforms – including PC. And this is important. Not only can a greater number of people than ever before play these games, but people who skipped the current and last generations of consoles can have fun too.

The King of Iron Fist heads to PC

Tekken 7 is the most significant release here, and in some ways – it’s the ultimate sign of publishers’ and developers’ confidence in the PC platform. Almost everyone’s heard of Tekken or played it at some point. After all, it was the first series to exceed one million sales on the PS1 and has since sold over 50 million copies worldwide. At this point, who doesn’t remember mashing some rounds in Tekken 3 or Tekken 5 with a local buddy or unfortunate sibling? Well this bestselling series had been exclusive to arcades/consoles for over 22 years, until now.

In a 2016 interview with Gamespot, Katsuhiro Harada-san – the game director and chief producer of the project, talked at length about why the PC version hadn’t been possible until now.

“In past Tekken games where we didn’t use Unreal Engine, there was a major difference in that we had much less time to actually do game design. When we submitted our documents to a programmer, we had to wait quite some time before we actually saw our work on screen.

Being able to use Unreal Engine and to have our work and the graphics appear relatively quick gave us much more time to work and focus on the actual game design elements. It also makes it easier to port to different platforms.

[There had always been demand for a PC version but] before, we used to do a lot for Sony’s hardware first. The hurdle to porting to PC afterward was quite high at that time. Since we’re developing the game on PC from the start using Unreal Engine, it made it much easier to release a PC version. There are also many markets in which many gamers prefer PC rather than console.”

Given the popularity of the series, it was no surprise that the pre-release announcement of the PC version enjoyed a tremendous reception – even the most diehard PlayStation fans were asking questions like “will there be crossplay?” and “what kind of system specs will I need to run the game?”.

This was right after the disappointing Street Fighter V too – many players were hopeful, but many more seemed to be cautious; and they had every reason to be. The Tekken team had never released a game on the platform, and the playerbase might have been too small to make it worth buying the game.

Fortunately, when the game came out (after what felt like an eternity) – it was a technical masterpiece. The developers actually had to reduce the Steam minimum requirements after players started to report that it would run on much lower-end hardware just fine. Running flawlessly at 60FPS with endless possibilities for mods – it began to look like this was the definitive way to play the game.

The store page for Tekken 7, showing the PC version’s system requirements and performance surveys.

Then, as if to objectively establish which version was the best – the console ports had the whole snafu with the input lag – now input lag doesn’t have the quite same impact it does in Street Fighter (where the shortest attack animations are 3 frames, compared to 10 frames in Tekken) but it was still a shock for anyone who took their game seriously – having just one extra frame for execution can be all it takes sometimes. It turns out that the PS4 version of Tekken 7 actually has almost 8 frames of input delay, compared to 6 frames on the last release Tekken Tag Tournament 2. While the Xbox One version fared a bit better at 6.3 frames, fans doing the testing were quickly blown away by the PC version.

As it turns out, the PC version has an input delay between 3-4 frames with v-sync off, and 6 frames with v-sync on. This meant that players on PC had nearly 50% more time to react to attacks and play better. When this news broke out, multiple high-level Tekken players – such as TheMainManSWE, Rip, and Aris immediately switched to the superior platform. Combined with the network issues that were being experienced by the console players that were completely absent on PC, and the availability of helpful practice mods and various fanmade costumes – there was no question about it, Tekken 7 on Steam was the definitive way to enjoy the game.

This is unprecedented. While the Tekken team has already confirmed that they’re working on all the console issues – the sheer quality of the PC version has blown people away. It’s no surprise that the playerbase is really healthy even over a month after launch, with around anywhere from 3,000 to 7,000 players active at any moment depending on the time of day. Compare this to SFV’s anemic 800-1K and you start to realise that this may be the best fighting game available on Steam right now (tied with Guilty Gear REV 2)

And with the latest reveal of Geese Howard, King of Fighters and Fatal Fury fans are rejoicing worldwide – and Tekken 7 has just become the closest thing there is to a Capcom vs. SnK game on the current-gen platforms. To add to the glory of things, Bandai Namco have just put up a 15% discount on Tekken 7, lowering the price from $49.99 (which was already cheaper than the console versions) to $42.50.

I would highly recommend checking the game out and supporting the PC platform if you have the choice, because this release seems to be getting everything right. Stay tuned for more fighting game coverage – we’re planning a series of articles for beginners of Tekken, and plenty of coverage regarding other series that absolutely floored us at this EVO.