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Dragon Ball FighterZ: A year one retrospective interview

With Dragon Ball FighterZ celebrating its first birthday, Shacknews chatted with producer Tomoko Hiroki to reflect on Year 1 and where DBFZ goes next.


Few fighting games have had a better first year than Dragon Ball FighterZ. The Dragon Ball Z fans have been hungry for a good 2D fighting game for years and Bandai Namco has given one to them in spades. On top of being an incredible gaming experience, FighterZ has been taking center stage in the fighting game world throughout 2018, thanks to some of the most memorable esports tournaments in a year full of them. All of this culminated with the Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour Finals in Los Angeles in late January.

This event not only crowned the best Dragon Ball FighterZ player in the world, but it also helped set the table for the game's next year. With Bandai Namco and Arc System Works pledging full support for their fighter for 2019 and beyond, the time felt right to reach out to DBFZ producer Tomoko Hiroki*. We look back at DBFZ's first year, its rise in the world of esports, and where the game is headed in 2019 and beyond.

(* - Hiroki-san's answers were provided via translator.)

Shacknews: In the past, you've stated your desire to make a Dragon Ball Z fighter that's both appealing to Dragon Ball fans and fighting game players. How do you feel you were able to accomplish this?

Tomoko Hiroki, Dragon Ball FighterZ producer: Because Dragon Ball FighterZ is still an ongoing title with more content planned for the future, I believe that it is still too soon to say I have fully accomplished this. However, if we were to just focus on how DBFZ has come so far; receiving the Best Fighting Game award at The Game Awards 2018 event, as well as looking at the positive feedback we have received from Dragon Ball fans on our latest DLCs, I believe we have been able to appeal to both the Dragon Ball fans and fighting game players so far.

Shacknews: Looking back, what’s one big thing about Dragon Ball FighterZ's first year that has stood out to you?

Hiroki-san: Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour definitely left the biggest impression on me during this first year. It was very interesting to get a chance to see players from around the world using different fighting styles and strategies. One example of this is, if I remember correctly there were a lot of Piccolo players overseas compared to Japan. The overall fighting strategy varied so much depending on each region, which made me realized how international this community is. I am very grateful to have so many overseas players playing Dragon Ball FighterZ.

Shacknews: What has it meant to you to have the Dragon Ball Z fans latch onto this game the way they have?

Hiroki-san: Appeasing both the Dragon Ball fanbase and the fighting genre fanbase has been one of the biggest challenges for our team. Both fanbases have quite a large difference in terms of expectations of the IP and fighting game mechanics. However, during the whole development phase of Dragon Ball FighterZ, creating a game that can appease both parties has been one of the most important goals to achieve for Arc Systems and myself. By doing so, we can introduce core fighting game players to an all-new anime universe, at the same time introducing Dragon Ball fans to the competitiveness and heart-pumping excitement which a fighting game can deliver.

As easy as it may sound, the balance to appease both parties tread on very thin ice. One small deviation heading in one particular direction, can affect the overall enjoyment and the full potential that Dragon Ball FighterZ can offer. At this moment, I believe it is still safe to say that we have managed to stay in the sweet-spot between both parties. However, this is only the start for Dragon Ball FighterZ. We still have plenty of ideas and content planned for the game with the goal of hopefully expanding the community even further.

Shacknews: Looking at the recent championship weekend, have the players shown you something about the game that has particularly impressed you?

Hiroki-san: During the championship weekend, I have had the opportunity to witness different skills and play-styles from the players who participated. However, I would have to say Kazunoko [Ryota Inoue] has amazed me the most throughout the whole tournament. But seeing, such a young player like Fenritti [Shoji Sho] go against Kazunoko has also been one of the biggest highlights for me and my team.

Shacknews: You have a big roster and a lot of mechanics to work with, so what are the biggest challenges that come with designing a balance patch?

Hiroki-san: Having such a big roster and making sure that the game is as balanced as it can be, is quite a challenging feat. It is also almost impossible to fulfill every single player's needs and requests. That being said, our team is working very hard on designing balance patches to make the game as fair as possible. We are also making sure to collect as much player feedback as we can, which is vital to helping us shape Dragon Ball FighterZ into the best possible game it can be.

Shacknews: How did you decide on the characters that would be featured in the next season pass?

Hiroki-san: While Dragon Ball FighterZ is a character-themed title, at its core, the game's mechanics revolve heavily around the fighting genre. From the beginning of Dragon Ball FighterZ's development brainstorming, we had picked each character depending on how much we could utilize the character's original moves to its full potential, enabling players to enjoy the gameplay even more. We made sure to keep this in mind while deciding on the roster for Fighters Pass 2 also.

That being said, we have definitely been keeping an eye on the community's feedback regarding possible roster line-up choices and have put these into consideration during our decision making process.

Shacknews: What's next for Dragon Ball FighterZ? What else should players anticipate for the game’s future?

Hiroki-san: There are still plenty of content that players can anticipate in the future! Seeing how the competitive scene of Dragon Ball FighterZ has fared, I am quite excited to see how the esports space will continue to grow for this game. This is just the beginning for Dragon Ball FighterZ; while there is always room for improvement, our team’s goal is to continually provide the best possible gaming experience to players and all fans watching Dragon Ball FighterZ.

Dragon Ball FighterZ is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. FighterZ Pass 2 has begun with the release of Jiren and Videl, with Broly, Gogeta (SSGSS), and two more unnamed fighters set to arrive later in the year.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 12, 2019 8:00 AM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Dragon Ball FighterZ: A year one retrospective interview

    • reply
      March 13, 2019 2:57 PM

      Dragon Ball FighterZ is still kicking.

      It would be great if more new content is coming.

      I love to see this game with the ultra instinct.

      If Arc Systems considers this, the community will be very pleased.

      I almost forgot.

      Mortal Kombat 11 and Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid will be out this March.

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