How Arc System Works survives and thrives in a volatile esports landscape

Prior to Saturday's Arc World Tour 2022 Finals, Shacknews spoke with Arc System Works Esports Manager Junior Ferreira about anime fighters, esports, crossplay, and surviving in an uncertain environment.

Arc System Works

The Arc World Tour is days removed from concluding an exciting season. Fighting game veterans Mocchii and Goichi "GO1" Kishida stood tall at the end of the weekend, having won championships for Guilty Gear Strive and DNF Duel, respectively. However, while the competitors are taking a short break before getting back into the action, there's no rest for the team at Arc System Works, specifically the esports crew.

Prior to Saturday's finals, Shacknews recently had the opportunity to speak with Arc System Works Esports Manager Junior Ferreira. We asked what's next for the Arc World Tour, as well as how esports has benefitted from new console versions, how crossplay helps competitive gaming, and what it takes to succeed in a volatile esports environment.

Shacknews: Coming into the Arc World Tour 2022 Finals, how do you feel about the health of your games and the competitive scenes around them?

Junior Ferreira, Arc System Works Esports Manager: I think we're coming in very strong, actually, compared to our competitors right now. And we're in a very competitive space. Before, it was just Bandai Namco and Capcom at it. Now, as an entry level studio, is Arc System Works coming into the fray after Dragon Ball Fighterz, I feel like we're in a very competitive space and it's almost like a gut check to these other studios where we're coming out here and we're developing great games. Our esports is just as great. Our entire department involving events has been phenomenal. I feel like we're in a position where we can make a big dynamic change in the FGC through our esports, and that's exactly what we're doing.

Shacknews: How do you feel the competitive Guilty Gear scene has evolved since the release of Strive a couple of years ago?

Ferreira: Yeah, so we got lucky, right? It was the perfect timing for everything. There was nothing else coming out that time, and it was during COVID, so a lot of people are in lockdown. So when we developed a good game with rollback [netcode] and players can finally find a way to connect with each other again. We saw a lot of that in Guilty Gear. From there to now, I feel like that's what helped us propel to where we're at currently with Guilty Gear and it just keeps on going. The community just grows more and more every month. It's crazy. It's awesome. We're really excited about it.

Guilty Gear Strive

Source: Arc System Works

Shacknews: This year we saw the arrival of DNF Duel as part of the Arc World Tour. How have you felt the competition in the game has been so far?

Ferreira: Yeah, so DNF Duel has been a very interesting anomaly because it's a brand new title coming off of the back of a previous title of Dungeon & Fighter, you know, which has had years, and years, and years of lore and fandom and all that stuff. So having a Dungeon & Fighter fighting game called DNF Duel join the fray has really helped spark the interest in anime fighting games, which we've seen across the board. People that played DNF Duel use it as an entry way to get into our other titles, which is exactly what we wanted to do and it was awesome.

Shacknews: We've been seeing Guilty Gear Strive come to Xbox and we're about to see DNF Duel come to Nintendo Switch. How important is it to increase these player bases in order to find the best players in the world?

Ferreira: A lot like our competitors, we look at other consoles and other platforms as a way to expand our community and then also give our existing community more opportunity to play with more people. That's one of the biggest things that we wanted to do when we made our expansion to Xbox and especially the addition of Game Pass and making it available on Game Pass was a very big decision for us, so we went ahead and did that.

As it relates to DNF Duel, we saw the community grow rapidly with the release of DNF Duel and then while they were waiting for the season pass to come out, we saw an area of opportunity to say, "Hey, well, why don't we use this as a way to start working on the Switch version of DNF Duel?" So, we're really excited to release that very soon.

Shacknews: What are your thoughts on cross-platform play in terms of the health of any of the game's competitive scene?

Ferreira: It needs it. If you are a developer right now working on anything, whether it be a fighting game or a Fortnite-like shooter game, you have to keep cross-platform at the core of all of your decision-making because that's what the community wants. That's what they deserve. That's something that we hold very close to us when we develop our games. So it's a very important thing to include cross-play.

Shacknews: We're seeing the esports landscape change in a lot of ways, both for better and for worse. What would you say is the biggest key to running a successful and sustainable esports circuit?

Ferreira: Community! Community and content! So you're actually going to see it in a lot of our segments from this past weekend for the quarterfinals. It's so important to treat your players like heroes, and when you do that, they will help you elevate your game to the way it needs to be. I feel like that's one of the most important things when it comes to esports. You saw the NBA do it, you see the NFL do it, the NHL, they all treat their players like All-Stars. And because they do that, there's so many more opportunities for growth across the board, whether it's from a spectator side or from a collaboration/branding side or even player interest side to get players involved.

I think that's one of the most important things when it comes to esports being the way that it is now. And I know it's kind of a wishy-washy situation with esports right now, and the same can be said for like the crypto markets and all that stuff. Given the impending recession that everybody's talking about, I can say that we are more invested than ever in our esports department and we're going to bring the heat for sure in the coming year.

Guilty Gear Strive is available now on PC and PlayStation and has recently released on Xbox and Xbox Game Pass. DNF Duel, which is coming off its Grand Balance Patch, is available now on PC and PlayStation and is set to release on Nintendo Switch on April 20 with its first season pass coming later this summer.

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?

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