I've been thinking that the 1-on-1 fighting game was a dead genre. I am apparently wrong.
Lemme take a step back.
Developers have been receiving hints by the big publishers to embed multiplayer in their games (the Big 3: Sony, Microsoft, though less so by Nintendo) for a long ass time now, and by 'hinted' I mean they might say something ambiguous and subtle like, "We think that you should put multiplayer in your next-gen game." You know, the kind of subtle that occurs when you deal with giant corporations. While their talents at verbal subterfuge may be in question, it's hard to argue against their reasoning: their multiplayer architectures cost millions to create and will only attract gamers when there are games that take advantage of it.
But fighting games have fared poorly in attempts at network multiplayer. Latency and frame counting don't mix.
So it has seemed as if there was not much room for the genre and I had all but assumed it dead. Until 2008 kicked me squarely in the teeth with multi-million dollar investments in the genre (Street Fighter IV, Mortal Kombat vs DC, Super Smash Brothers, etc.) and sub-multi-million dollar investments (Street Fighter HD Remix). 2009 shows no signs of giving up on the little-genre-that-could, including a new Final Fantasy that's a pure fighting game. I'm not sure whether the fans of Final Fantasy are the same kinds of fans that enjoy a good 1-on-1 brawler, but there are literally millions composing that fan base so some measure is bound to be excited by it.
Which brings me to my point, and subsequently my question-- where are games being played? We've mentioned on the podcast that most games have migrated from the computer in your den (or dorm room PC) to the console in your living room. But I have been assuming that these are more and more single-player-local, multi-player-networked environments, overshadowing the previous several-people-sitting-around-one-TV kind of setup. And definitely not the kind that compliment fighting games where half the fun is looking at the person next to you and laughing in their face when you pile drive them.
Nintendo has always bet big that the several-people-sitting-around-one-TV setup is not just alive and well but is a large and viable market that can support even their gigantic annual cash flow as the market leader. But Xbox Live and Sony's online efforts seem to put most of their money behind networked play. The only four-player multiplayer games that demand all players on the same console for Xbox or Playstation are.... well, none. None that I can think of right now at least.
So why isn't this genre dead? Thoughts?