IPlayWinner's Darry Huskey wrote a piece for Shoryuken.com(it was removed today) about the need for Namco to look at "dumbing down" the Tekken franchise. His opinion is that right now the Tekken series doesn't have room for growth, and the game takes far too long for most people to master due to the sheer amount of depth found within. While his concern is sound, by stating that Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will not be as successful as Street Fighter or Marvel vs. Capcom series, he is not grasping what Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is about, as well as understanding the ramifications of "dumbing" a game down.
First things first: Tekken Tag 1 & 2 are fanservice games. They're not canon with the Tekken storyline as seemingly dead fighters have come back to life. The original TTT was similar to the Vs. series from Capcom where it took the dream matches from earlier games that fans wanted to see, and put them all in one game with a tag mode. TTT2 did that as well as show fans that Namco wants Tekken to be in the mix with the current fighting game revival.
Tekken 6 was released in 2007, and while it was a great entry into the series, Tekken is played out. What better way to give new life to the series than by giving fans the sequel to TTT, possibly the most popular Tekken game ever? It's not about revolutionizing the series, it's about giving the fans what they want. I can assure you, fans have been clamoring for a TTT2 for the past decade.
Since this is a game made for the fans, then you really can't be shocked that it doesn't do a lot to hook in the casual gamer. While Street Fighter IV was a great way to bring back the hardcore fighting game fan as well as the casual Street Fighter players, Super Street Fighter IV add more depth to the game because Capcom knew that the fans were going to buy it as opposed to your casual Joe Button-Masher who can’t even throw a Hadoken.
While appealing to casual gamers does mean more money, everyone has to face facts: not every game can be, or needs to be, made for the casual gamer. Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, Smash Bros. and Mortal Kombat attract both tournament players and casual fans because those games have deeper connections to gamers. Casuals don’t feel as connected to games like Tekken, Virtua Fighter, Guilty Gear, and King of Fighters, and that won't be changing anytime soon. Why strive to appease the casual players that won't be flocking to the game and isolate the real fans? You know what happens when you try to make everyone happy? Tekken 4.
Longtime readers know about my hatred for Tekken 4, as evidenced in my article, How Dead or Alive almost killed the Tekken series. The Tekken formula was changed to cater to the new boob-loving fans of Dead or Alive rather than the established Tekken 4 players. The game screamed that it was a wannabe DOA game, and Tekken fans everywhere were pissed. TTT, which appealed to the fans, was a huge game for Namco while Tekken 4 is remembered as being a horrible game. That is something that Huskey did mention in his article.
I know that it's become the norm for commentators on the industry to pull for developers to get casual gamers into the mix so that more money can be pumped into various franchises, but let's face facts. Casual gamers jump on a new game as often as there is a new #1 hit song. They jumped on the Wii by the millions to play Wii Sports, went to play Call of Duty, then landed on Angry Birds. Trying to get them is like trying to make a hit song. You put your best out there, get it some air play, and hope for the best. The public’s memory is short-lived and they’ll flock to The Next Big Thing at the drop of a hat. Did anyone really expect "Call Me Maybe" to be eclipsed by "Gangam Style?" Of course not! It's better to make something fans will appreciate and buy. If non-fans come on board, then that’s even better, but if it doesn’t happen, you’ll still have the die-hards to keep the ball rolling.
I will never understand this need to be more inclusive thus asking for a "dumbing down" of certain games. This is gaming and it is art. Since it's art, that also means that it's not for everyone. Would I dare call for Quentin Tarantino to ease up on the cursing to get all those underage bucks or have Stephen King to make his books a little less scary to the Harry Potter readers can enjoy them? Of course not. They're artists who want to make their content the way they see fit, not for the sake of getting more money. That's being a shill, and asking developers do that is an insult to the developers and gamers.
We should be promoting the idea that gamers, casual gamers included, elevate themselves to enjoy those games whose greatness is more than just skin deep.