Reasons The 2020s Are The Golden Age Of Fighting Games


  • The Big Three fighting game franchises are thriving with huge releases and strong player bases in the 2020s, exciting fans.
  • Fans are more vocal than ever with constructive criticism, prompting improvements in game features and micro-transaction practices.
  • Fighting games now offer improved online experiences with better netcode, cross-play, and additional content for a more well-rounded experience.

Fighting games have always been a fan-favorite genre. Be it Mortal Kombat or Smash Bros, everyone has a fighting game they like. They’re usually easily accessible and super fun to play, whether it’s with friends, online, or at local events. Fighting games did, however, have a bit of a lull in the recent past, followed by a period of disillusionment among fans as to the direction the genre as a whole was moving towards.


6 Most Iconic 2D Fighting Game Characters

Even gamers outside of the fighting game genre will recognize these famous 2D fighting game characters from Mortal Kombat to Street Fighter.

Regardless, it is clear to see that the lull was extremely short-lived, and fighting games are back in a boom period. With recent releases, strong player bases, and thriving competition between competing releases, it is easy to say that the 2020s are experiencing a “Golden Age” of fighting games, and it is exciting to see what comes next.

1 The Big Three Have All Had Huge Releases

Tekken, Mortal Kombat, And Street Fighter Are All Going Head-To-Head


Tekken 8

January 26, 2024


The “Big Three” of traditional fighting games are Tekken, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter. Each of these fighting game behemoths has had huge releases in the past year. Tekken 8, Street Fighter 6, and Mortal Kombat 1 have all been released to critical acclaim and incredible commercial success.

Not only does this show that each franchise has huge pulling power, but it reinforces the notion that the fighting game player base is huge, and not restricted to one or two games. These games are basically released one after the other and yet each has a massive online player presence, which is a great sign.

2 Fans Are More Willing To Criticize Their Favorite Games

Player Feedback Is Vital

A screenshot of Peacemaker dancing in front of a neon MK dragon logo in Mortal Kombat 1.

Mortal Kombat 1

September 19, 2023


Fighting games are notoriously slow to change the established way of things. Patches were few and far between, annoying micro-transactions were present, and a lack of balance updates sometimes marr the experience. Or at least that was the case before the 2020s. Fans are now more vocal in their feedback and often provide constructive criticism.

Using MK1 as an example, players were quick to voice their frustrations about expensive shop items and the state of Invasion mode. To the credit of NetherRealm Studios, they were receptive to these frustrations. Not only have shop prices recently been reduced, but Invasion mode has been steadily improved since the game’s release. Fans are eager to criticize micro-transactions as well, as is apparent from nearly every recent release. Constructive feedback, and keeping a check on sale practices can only do good for the genre and is a very welcome shift.

3 Improved Netcode And QoL Changes

Fighting Games Are Now A Better All-Around Package


Street Fighter 6

June 2, 2023


Most fighting games in the early to mid-2010s did not have the best Net Code, and servers in general weren’t exactly great. This is especially important considering ping and smooth gameplay are vital for these 1v1 or 2v2 PvP-focused games. Similarly, there were concerns about most games in the genre not having enough content.


Tekken Franchise Game Tier List

Tekken 8 serves as the culmination of every Tekken title that came before, and the franchise up until now has had several ups and downs.

A lack of different modes and single-player content was always brought up. It is great to see that most fighting games have now massively improved their online servers, and moved towards more efficient net code, making the online experience better. This is further improved by how accessible cross-play now is, increasing the speed at which players find matches. Moreover, recent releases have focused more on additional content to make the games a more well-rounded experience. The difference between Street Fighter 5 and Street Fighter 6 is staggering in this regard.

4 Exciting Upcoming Releases

Some Big Contenders Might Shake Up The Entire Genre

League of Legends Project L 2XKO

Not only have fans been blessed with some amazing new releases that are still going strong, such as MK1 and Tekken 8, but the future holds some exciting prospects for the genre as well. The first big release coming up soon is from the creators of League of Legends, Riot Games. Project L promises to be a solid fighting game, with regular patches and balance updates and a huge e-sport scene. Moreover, Riot Games has been known to support their games for years, which is a great sign.

Dragon Ball Sparkling Aether is another big release from the storied Dragon Ball franchise. Following suit from Budokai Tenkaichi 3, it would have a massive roster, featuring most fighters from the original series as well as Dragon Ball Super. Along with these two mammoth releases, Rivals 2 also has anticipation from the hardcore fans of the genre.

5 Longer Life Cycles

Constant Support For Games Is Always A Plus

Dragon Ball FighterZ SSJ Goku Dramatic Finish

Fighting games are slowly getting better at expanding a game’s life cycle. This is largely done through support via bug fixes, and balance patches to adjust the meta. Moreover, developers are leaning more towards DLC characters and content, keeping the game fresh and exciting.


Mortal Kombat: Best Versions Of Scorpion, Ranked

Scorpion has undergone several iterations over the course of the long-running Mortal Kombat franchise. These are the best versions of this character.

The recent trend championed by NetherRealm Studios is story expansions. If done right, these expansions can feel like a whole new game. Ideally, other franchises follow the trend, but the signs are already encouraging. Especially with the entry of the aforementioned Riot Games into the genre. Overall, there’s a strong argument to be had for the 2020s being the Golden Age of fighting games, and the renaissance is only getting started.


The 14 Best Fighting Games For Beginners, Ranked

Fighting games can be pretty intimidating for newcomers to the genre. The following games, however, are a good place to start.