From Dragon Ball Budokai to DRAGON BALL XENOVERSE, I was used to less-than-traditional fighting games for the series. However, I believe the fanmade fighting game “Hyper Dragon Ball Z” using the Mugen engine showed developers that everyone was hype for a Dragon Ball fighting game within the traditional format (while there have been other traditional 2D fighters for Dragon Ball, none came out recently). Afterwards we got “Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butōden“, which is a 1v1 sprite based fighting game on the 3DS which I feel exists because of Hyper Dragon Ball Z. I believe the hype surrounding these games helped create the interest needed to have Bandai Namco approach Arc System Works about this project.
Dragon Ball FighterZ released on January 26th, 2018. This means we have been playing this game for a bit over four-and-a-half years. DBFZ came at a time where we were all craving for a “Marvel VS Capcom” style game, and the fact we got one with the legendary series by Akira Toriyama made it even better! From the soundtrack to the graphics, from the gameplay to the character selection, everything was pretty spot on except for the delay-based netcode. However, at-the-time, we had offline events and regional tournaments like Next Level Battle Circuit and The House of Chaos meant we got to see impressive weekly tournaments aside from majors like Texas Throwdown or Frosty Faustings.
The passion within the community for Dragon Ball FighterZ persisted throughout these four years. The Covid-19 pandemic, delay-based netcode, Android 21 [Labcoat], and even the loss of Spooky’s NLBC did not stop the DBFZ community from enjoying the game. We saw the rise of proficient players like Wawa and Nitro, gave popularity to players like HookGangGod, and introduced us to an amazing rivalry before Go1 and SonicFox. I believe however, that Evolution 2022 marked the beginning of the end for Dragon Ball FighterZ.
The announcement of Rollback at Evolution 2022 after the Grand Finals between Nitro and Wawa brought many hype, but we also got confirmation that the game is essentially finished. No more characters will be added and they believe that Dragon Ball FighterZ has been “tuned to its finest”, so there will be no more balance updates. Yes, there will be a World Tour for 2022/2023, and the first stop on that tour happened to be Evo 2022…but, I believe that is because Bandai Namco has other plans which doesn’t actually include Dragon Ball FighterZ.
Why would a company like Bandai Namco invest money into implementing rollback netcode within a game that is seeing no more microtransactions? It’s not like they’re selling another Season Pass, characters, costumes, or stages. Rollback is coming and others will be interested in buying those next gen versions for it, but Tomoko also promised an “upgrade” for those coming from Playstation 4 and Xbox One to their current gen systems (which either means free or a discounted price). Hell, PC is essentially getting this update for absolutely free. 2022/2023 Dragon Ball FighterZ tour costs money; they have to pay for flights for certain events/finals, commentators, and setup an entire year circuit for the players. I think that’s easy enough to understand.
We are either being setup for a Dragon Ball FighterZ 2 announcement in 2023 that will feature fighters that did not make it within the original game (Raditz, Toppo, etc), new mechanics, and an upgraded art style. Or, the more likely event, we are getting another fighting game that is based upon a different anime series (my guess is Naruto, mainly because of the 3v3 team format and having much more characters and styles to pick from). I don’t really see a company like Bandai doing so much for the Dragon Ball FIghterZ community within some sort of plan to make a return on their investment, but I am certainly excited either way since the time I’ve had with DBFZ has been great and people will still be going strong in 2023. Ultimately, I believe that Dragon Ball FighterZ will have enough players due to rollback to be on Grand Finals Sunday of EVO next year, but could be the very last time it has the pull to do such (especially since both SonicFox and Go1 claim to be coming back to the game, and with Wawa reigning supreme that will be interesting).