Earlier this year, we were given the opportunity to attend the Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour Finals in Los Angeles, where the top players from all corners of the globe converged to compete for the bragging rights of being the best (along with some considerable prize money).
Towards the end of the competition, we got the chance to sit down with the game's producer, Tomoko Hiroki, and discuss the past and future of FighterZ. Want to know how new additions to the roster are selected from Dragon Ball's rich history of characters? Read on to find out.
Push Square: Dragon Ball FighterZ was partly built with hardcore fighting game fans in mind, but did you ever think it would be successful enough to have its own tour, or was that the plan from the start?
Tomoko Hiroki: The thing is, Dragon Ball popularity is huge on its own, but I wouldn’t expect hardcore fighting game fans to be enormously interested in playing a Dragon Ball game. We didn’t have the confidence that it would become this popular to begin with, but it was our goal. We’re endlessly humbled by the community response to FighterZ -- this was our dream!
How important do you think it is for fighting games to have big events like this one?
So, obviously the fighting game community has a really long history, and big, in-person events like this are an important part of that, so we find it to be critical in that regard, but also we want to focus on creating an event that caters to Dragon Ball fans that aren’t necessarily into fighting games. That was the mentality we had in setting up this tour, we wanted something that could appeal to both fighting game fans and Dragon Ball fans, so we could best draw people in.
Everyone gets so excited over new characters being added to the game, but how do you actually decide on which characters to add?
It’s a mixture of what’s popular and what’s practical. Other Dragon Ball games is mostly just choosing characters according to who’s popular or the latest in the current canon, but since this is a fighting game, it matters whether or not they would be a compelling fighting character. We want popular characters in, of course, but we want fighters that are interesting to play and bring new things to the table.
If you could time travel just like Trunks, is there anything that you would go back and change about Dragon Ball FighterZ before it launched?
Nothing from before launch, but there is something from after which was a total embarrassment: the EVO 2018 match. If I could change anything, I’d go back in time and practice way more before stepping into that match!
[Here's the footage, in all its glory. Please forgive us, Hiroki-san]
Have you gotten any better at playing since?
No [Hirko-san buries her face in her hands]. But, since the world tour began, there’s more opportunity to see better players go at it. I can kind of vicariously experience their prowess and feel like I’m getting better as a result. But, then I actually play, and that’s not the case...
And finally, we know support for Dragon Ball FighterZ is ongoing, but is there potential for a sequel?
Currently, there’s no work ongoing for a sequel. One of the reasons is because FighterZ has only been out for a year and fighting games typically have a pretty long tail, and we believe that since it’s the first fighter of its kind for the Dragon Ball franchise, it’s important to build up that fanbase around this release first in the coming years. Then, perhaps after that time has passed, we’ll begin work on a sequel.
Thanks very much to Hiroki-san for taking the time to talk to us.
[Questions by Mitch Vogel and Robert Ramsey]