8 years is a long wait for any game to release, especially if it’s part of a series with as much hype as the Tekken and Street Fighter franchises. Ever since the release of Street Fighter X Tekken in 2012, fans have been looking hard for any sign of its long-teased sequel, Tekken X Street Fighter. Developers from either side have remained tight-lipped throughout the journey, leaving heavy-hearted players to assume the project will forever remain axed.
Except, maybe a quiet fate isn’t such a bad thing after all. Let’s take a look back in time to see why.
Something that most players have most likely forgotten was the environment surrounding Street Fighter X Tekken upon its birth. As a recap, 2009 saw the success of Street Fighter IV, the game largely credited with aiding to spark a revival of the fighting genre as a whole in the early 2010s. Of course, it sold incredibly well, topping sales charts through the end of the decade and landing at lifetime sales of 3.4 million copies–which doesn’t even include the subsequent DLC repackages.
Capcom didn’t waste any time. Multiple iterations of Street Fighter IV were quickly introduced, ensuring players would stay satisfied for years with additional DLC. Not only that, but Capcom used SFIV‘s success to green-light even more fighting games, with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 hitting development in 2011.
However, nothing was larger than the surprise announcement of Street Fighter X Tekken. Needless to say, it took almost everyone by surprise—but somehow, it made sense. 2008’s Tekken 6 saw high praise, and Street Fighter IV‘s success proved there was still a market for fighting games. Putting two of the genre’s most successful franchises together could only be a recipe for greatness, right?
Well, not exactly.
Capcom Turns Cannibal
Remember how Street Fighter IV shattered expectations? Well, the success left Capcom confident that the rest of the fighting games they were sitting on could see the same sales numbers—perhaps too confident. From 2008 to 2011, the company released Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, and Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition.
That’s three fighters from the same company alone, not even mentioning all the other recent fighters like Mortal Kombat 9—which had just sparked another wave of popularity in the fighting genre.
With a large fanbase still dedicated to Street Fighter IV and fans flocking to other types of fighters, the audience Capcom expected to buy Street Fighter X Tekken suddenly became distracted by other offerings. In fact, sales fell short by 600,000 units at release. Paired with controversies over disc-locked DLC and the occasional game-breaking bug, it’s safe to say Street Fighter X Tekken didn’t hit the ground running as confidently as Capcom expected it to.
Namco Sets The Example
The difference between Capcom and Namco’s approach to development cycles couldn’t be more obvious when looking at 2012. While Capcom released iteration upon iteration of different fighting games, (Street Fighter IV had five different versions alone), sometimes even releasing in the same year, Namco was playing it slow-and-steady.
The team behind Tekken focused on only one release at a time, and the results speak for themselves; Tekken 7 remains one of the most successful service-games of the generation, and is widely regarded as one of the best—if not the best—of the series.
Such success would’ve made it hard enough to warrant diverting resources away from Tekken 7 towards Tekken X Street Fighter in 2016 when Tekken’s series producer admitted the project was ‘on hold’. Flash-forward four years, and 2020’s fighting-game scene is more changed than ever.
Mortal Kombat 11, Injustice 2, Tekken 7, Street Fighters V, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Soulcalibur VI and Dragon Ball Fighters Z are just a handful of the recent releases that have taken a firm seat on the fighting-game horizon. You see, the wave Street Fighter IV sparked in 2009 didn’t just fizzle out. It exploded. Fighting fans have more choices than ever to satisfy their bloodlust, however unique their tastes may be.
On the crossover-genre front, things don’t look so healthy. 2017’s Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite was met with lukewarm reception and even worse sales. NetherRealm Studios learned from their fumble with Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and split the latter into a separate entry, now the highly-successful Injustice series. (They also seem to be developing their franchises one at a time like Namco, staggering the release of each Mortal Kombat and Injustice entry to capture the largest audience possible). In fact, it’s hard to think of a single fighting-game crossover involving names with the same large-scale recognition as Street Fighter or Tekken that’s actually worked in the past five years.
Meanwhile, Street Fighter V keeps Capcom’s attention, though even that project saw its own plague of issues from both professional players and casual fans. Despite a disappointing launch, the game finally reached four million in sales this year, but only after a plethora of free DLC releases helped mend its relationship with players. All the while Tekken 7 remains a poster child of success for Namco, and players continue to see DLC five years after release.
Everything considered, it’s hard to see where Tekken X Street Fighter could possibly fit into the mix, both in past and present. It’s clear Capcom and Namco have their plates full with their own fighters; Street Fighter V and Tekken 7 have become such service-based games, it’s hard to imagine either would’ve had the same DLC cycles and improvements should developers been distracted by making Tekken X Street Fighter. Not to mention shifted attitudes in the current fighting-game scene, where Injustice showed most players would rather see a dedicated iteration of their favorite franchise rather than a spinoff.
Harada’s 2019 statement on the project is enough to sum-up why Tekken X Street Fighter had trouble finding a suitable release window.
I still want to release the game. However, as much as I want to proceed with the project, things have changed a lot since 2012…I was excited about that and I have passion for it, but my logical and business thinking has me wondering if I really should do it.
For those players holding onto hope, all may not be lost. Last December, Harada personally asked fans if they’d still be interested in the project.
Let me be honest. What percentage of you are really waiting for "TEKKEN x Street Fighter"?
(My marketing view is that TK7 and SFV are selling very well, so there is no opportunity to drop TK x SF on the market).
— Katsuhiro Harada (@Harada_TEKKEN) December 13, 2019
At least he hasn’t forgotten about it.
The Bottom Line
While it’s uncertain whether Tekken X Street Fighter could ever see the light of day, one thing’s clear: it’s probably best that it took a while. Instead of trying to slice up their time and energy into another venture, Capcom had more time to focus on improving Street Fighter V, eventually transforming it into a worthy successor to IV, while Namco’s development on Tekken 7 further cemented the franchise as a staple in the fighting genre.
Only time will tell if both developers want to sacrifice their time to focus on another joint endeavor. But with the current state of fighting games, the question is less about if they would actually do so—and more about if players would even care if they did.