Bandai Namco’s Tekken franchise has been a staple in the fighting game genre for many years. With each new iteration, the series has only grown in popularity and success. Tekken 7, the most recent entry in the series, was a massive hit, attracting both seasoned players and newbies alike. Despite being released eight years ago, Tekken 7 continues to maintain its popularity.
Given the success of Tekken 7, the prospect of creating a sequel may seem daunting. However, Bandai Namco has officially announced that Tekken 8 is in the works and set to release in September 2022. So how does the team behind one of the most successful fighting games approach the task of creating a new installment? We spoke with Katsuhiro Harada, the longtime creator and director of Tekken, as well as producer Michael Murray, to get some insight into their process and their thoughts on the current state of the fighting game genre.
Starting from Scratch: The Challenges and Benefits of Creating Tekken 8
A successful game like Tekken 7 presents a unique challenge for its creators. When a game has struck gold, how do you approach making a new one? According to Harada and Murray, the starting point for Tekken 8 is the fact that it will be the first game in the series to release on consoles before arcades. This presents both a challenge and a benefit. While it changes the way the game is developed, it also ensures that players around the world can experience the game simultaneously.
In the past, arcade releases were prioritized, with console versions offering additional content and modes. Tekken was one of the first fighting games to introduce story modes and other gameplay options outside of traditional battles. This time, however, the developers have to integrate all those features from the start, making the development process more intense in terms of time, money, and resources.
When asked about the importance of arcade releases and their decline in Japan, Harada acknowledged the significance of arcades in gaming culture. However, he believes that times have changed, and people’s preferences for how they spend their leisure time have shifted. In the modern era of smartphones and streaming services, arcades have become less popular. Nevertheless, the team behind Tekken is actively working to address the needs and preferences of today’s gamers with the upcoming release of Tekken 8.
Feedback and Balancing: The Role of the Online Community
Traditionally, location tests held in arcades provided valuable feedback and data for game balancing. With the decline of arcades, the online community has become the primary source of feedback for developers. In addition to closed network tests, where players can try out the game and provide input, the developers also rely on early testing to ensure the functionality and online features work properly.
Not only does the online community help with bug testing, but their feedback also influences gameplay mechanics. Harada and Murray specifically mentioned the Heat meter in Tekken 8, which has been adjusted based on player feedback. The team values the input of the community and strives to create a game that satisfies both the hardcore competitive players and those who enjoy the single-player experience.