Tekken's director reckons young people don't vibe with fighting games as much because they don't have teammates you can blame

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 21: Katsuhiro Harada waves to the crowd at the Tekken 8: The Art of Fighting panel at 2023 Comic-Con International: San Diego at San Diego Convention Center on July 21, 2023 in San Diego, California
(Image credit: Chelsea Guglielmino/FilmMagic)

Tekken director Katsuhiro Harada reckons those pesky young'uns don't like fighting games as much as people his own age because, unlike team-based games, there's nobody else to point the finger at when you lose.

Chatting with PlayStation's Shuhei Yoshida on the AIAS Game Maker's Notebook podcast, Harada said that the attitude towards one-on-one clashes feels different to how it was back in his day. "It seems to me that the way fighting games are played has evolved over time with the generations," he said when Yoshida asked about the future of fighting games (thanks, VGC).

"In Japan, and probably in most of the world, my generation is a big one. It makes up a good chunk of the population. That made our society a competitive one," he continued. "If you applied to a school or for a job, there was always a lot of competition. Because of this, people in my generation prefer definitive outcomes, a clear winner and loser. This applies to folks in and around their 50s."

Harada reckons that's not the case anymore. "Most young people nowadays are the opposite," he told Yoshida. "They're rarely eager to engage in one-on-one showdowns. Plus, because fighting games pit you by yourself against a single opponent, you have to accept all the responsibility if you lose. You can't blame anyone else. In team-based shooters, when players win, they can say that they won because of their own contributions. But when they lose, it's because they got matched with a lousy team."

Now, have I been guilty of calling myself a god after an Overwatch win and then vehemently denying my countless deaths as "DEFEAT" flashes across the screen? Yes. Do I feel a little called out by Harada right now? Maybe. I do have to say I agree with his sentiment to an extent, too, as I was having a similar conversation with some of my fighting game pals a few weeks ago.

I do think it's perhaps a little unfair to say that younger generations are less competitive, but I can't help but feel there's definitely some truth when it comes to a solo competitive mindset versus a team one.

But just because Harada reckons young people are a little quicker to pass the buck, he doesn't think that's the end of the genre as we know it. "I'm not saying we should suddenly turn a fighting game into a puzzle game or a real-time strategy game," he continued. "I still think there's a demand for games like this, this sort of hand-to-hand fighting. But maybe we could include other ways of competing outside the main game.

"For example, maybe they don't always have to fight one-on-one. They could opt for team battles, such as three-on-three matches. I think we may want to incorporate this into the online mode's official rankings. Maybe team matches could have positions within a team, something like the order of teammates in judo matches."

Considering I called out my desire for the addition of more team-based modes in my Tekken 8 review, this is definitely something I'd be down for. Though team battles of old were still a one-on-one fight, there's room to adapt them into something where you can play alongside your pals.

Ultimately, it definitely seems like something Harada is pondering. "Right now in Tekken's online mode, each player fights alone, battle after battle, just trying to climb the ranks. Maybe with more varied modes based on things like teams or regions, it could add more meta-gaming as well."

Mollie Taylor
Features Producer

Mollie spent her early childhood deeply invested in games like Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which continue to form the pillars of her personality today. She joined PC Gamer in 2020 as a news writer and now lends her expertise to write a wealth of features, guides and reviews with a dash of chaos. She can often be found causing mischief in Final Fantasy 14, using those experiences to write neat things about her favourite MMO. When she's not staring at her bunny girl she can be found sweating out rhythm games, pretending to be good at fighting games or spending far too much money at her local arcade.