The Fighting Game Community is a fiercely competitive environment, and for good reason. The competition is strong, there are many different games you can test your mettle in, and you can generally find communities within said games to really hone your skills.

But as you make your way up, it becomes less and less fruitful to actually gain much of anything out of it. Not only that, but being able to make it as anything but a high level player is mostly not viable, especially if you aren’t in one of the meccas of the FGC (Northeast, West Coast, or Japan, with other areas varying depending on game).

Here are some of the ways the FGC holds itself back:

The return on doing well.

As touched on previously, trying to make it as anyone in the FGC isn’t really worth it, for a multitude of reasons. Yes, the money isn’t everything, and that’s fine depending on who you are and what your goals are. Competing for the sole purpose of money isn’t a particularly great endeavor regardless of what game you compete in. But when you’re good at something, you should be given the ability to thrive off of it. That currently isn’t the case right now.

The best players in any given esport can very easily make a living off of their game, but even being “very good” can take you very far. My career in Magic: The Gathering was certainly nothing to write home about. I failed to ever make a top 8 in any SCG Open, and have a single Grand Prix day two to my name. I was still able to get a lot further writing and talking about MTG than 99% of FGC players who are way better (and likely always will be) than I am.

I don’t think it should be that way.

If you are good at something, you should be compensated accordingly. Full stop. You can love the game and do it for the spirit of competition all you like, but there comes a point where you want to see the fruits of your labor. If the backbone of the FGC are the people who don’t do well, and the people who do do well aren’t being supported, then that backbone isn’t being used properly.

Prize payouts, as a whole, are awful.

Why are majors still doing top three payouts again?

I cannot think of any other esport where top 3 payout is even remotely acceptable. Top 8 payouts in MTG were standard, even if the event had, say, a 500 dollar prize pot. I gather that the real reason why top 8 payouts aren’t consistent is because there’s simply less money in prize payouts in the first place. I find it a little weird because entry costs of fighting game events are usually more expensive than other games I’ve competed in, and they increase as the event gets closer. I don’t know if this is the only genre that does this, but it is pretty telling to me that events cost more, pay less to fewer people, and returns are basically nothing from the people running them.

It may be an extreme example by now, but I am starkly reminded of EVO 2018, where 5-8th place in Guilty Gear XRD received a grand total of 62 dollars.


The FGC’s World Championship.


I know I’ve done a lot of comparisons to MTG. Part of that is because it’s my most direct experience when it comes to competitive play for a prolonged period of time. The other reason is because MTG is also a 1v1 game in most events, so the parallel of “You only have yourself to blame” applies equally, regardless of whether the payoff is equitable or not. If you’re going to use the excuse that you’re the only person to hold accountable for your skill, then it should also be on the community to provide proper incentive to actually make self-accountability meaningful. If not money, then time, or resources that are approachable.

If we want to expand things even further, let’s talk about other 1v1 esports, such as FIFA, Madden, Hearthstone, or the like. Hell, let’s trickle things down some and go to the content creators of the average player. The exposure of the average content creator in each of these is way higher, and as you move up, prize payouts for events are higher than fighting games across the board.

So, let’s say that the reason for this is that less money is in the FGC as a whole. Why is that? If entry fees are higher than most other competitive games, while payouts are lower, and staff and TOs are doing it at a loss, where is the money going?

Which brings me to my final point:

The non-player pillars of the FGC aren’t being supported.

Here’s a simple question: How often do you see credits on media, shows, conventions, or even smaller things like panels or books?

Now, how often do you see it in a typical FGC event?

To my point: When TOs ask for commentary reels, but don’t provide easy, meaningful ways of making said commentary reels for their own events easy to find, that is a disservice to your community. When we’re constantly being told to respect and appreciate those who do things like setup consoles and venues, but we can’t pay said people anything reasonable at all for large events, that is a disservice to the community. Something as easy as putting the names of commentators in your Youtube description of your event videos would quite literally solve the former problem instantly, with two seconds of work. But for some reason it doesn’t happen.

Now, you don’t see this as often in other esports events because the large majority of the time, you’ll have two to four commentators for the whole event, and they’re almost always noted before an event as well, on top of being very well known within said community because they do a damn good job of bringing their own stars up and making sure they get usable, tangible recognition. The amount of time I have to spend looking for a highlight reel for an event I casted a year ago is not okay. If we’re going to go with the notion that I should have it cataloged myself, then we should also go with the notion that it isn’t much of a community thing to make things harder for the people who could want to work with you in the future.

If I want to cast for, say, Combo Breaker 2023, I shouldn’t feel like I’m looking for a needle in a haystack to find footage of the exact matches I casted for Frosty Faustings 2021 among a 6-10 hour video with no indicators. No other esport I’ve been a part of has this problem, and accepting that things should be harder just because you spent 3 hours labbing a hard combo (therefore everyone else should “suffer”) is not it.

It sucks because the FGC can be so much better than this, but just collectively decides to make things harder for who knows what reason. I want to see more success from more people, regardless of skill. I don’t want the pinnacle of competing to be a sponsorship tag before your name. I want events to actually feel worth traveling to. I want local scenes that aren’t NYC or West Coast based to get more of the spotlight and be supported by bigger scenes more consistently. I want to stop putting regions on pedestals, and celebrate everyone who wants to be a part of it.

I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom, but there’s so much more we can do, and it’s best time we start looking towards how we can do more for the FGC.

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