"A fight is about who’s left standing" - fighting game veteran explains why Tekken is still kicking while Soul Calibur's in limbo

Tekken 8 story mode
(Image credit: Bandai Namco)

Bandai Namco's general manager and longtime fighting game director Katsuhiro Harada has delved into the sibling rivalry that Tekken and Soul Calibur had within the company for decades, while implying that the latter series is somewhat in limbo.

"After observing the industry for 30 years, I can say that in the case of fighting games, there have been many instances in which a series has stagnated or ceased to exist when a key player in the franchise leaves or disappears," Harada explains. "The reasons for the disappearance of these key persons are often not only their own problems." Harada then points to Bandai Namco's long-running, big-swords fighting series Soul Calibur as an example: "Having seen it up close and personal... this was not simply a matter of sales and marketing, but I can tell you that the organizational changes and decision-makers at Namco Bandai had a great deal to do with it."

The full tweet embedded below gets into the interesting nitty-gritty of fighting game history, how the transition from arcades to consoles killed several acclaimed fighting series, and how Soul Calibur was once seen as the publisher's golden goose thanks to its higher sales in North America and potential for multimedia expansions. "Even I, at the time, had a certain appreciation for the hypothetical possibilities," Harada writes, despite being firmly based in the Tekken camp.

"However, as you all know, as the industry expanded, it became larger and larger, and companies merged with each other," Harada continues. "Bandai Namco is no exception and has changed for better or for worse." He then explains how organizational changes left Soul Calibur "struggling to survive." Meanwhile, Tekken thrived after Harada became "the head of a new department called Global Business Development" because he somewhat "manipulated the creative and budget planning."

"I think this was the only difference between Tekken Project and Project Soul. I think that the fact that the number of members who had the drive to keep the title alive, even if they had to jump through all kinds of pressure, decreased as the organization changed, and that is one of the aspects that weakened Project Soul little by little. I am not saying that is all, but it was a big factor. Happened due to organizational policy, not individual problems."

Despite sitting in the freezer for now, Harada still thinks that the "fire" of Soul Calibur hasn't been extinguished at the publisher. "There are still a few people in the company who have the will to do it. I would like to believe that they are just not united now."

The series last reared its head with Soul Calibur 6 in 2018, which went on to sell two million copies within a year and received two season passes - one of which featured Geralt of Rivia, of all people. On the other hand, its rival continued the longest-running video game storyline earlier this year in Tekken 8.

For now, check out the best fighting games you can play now.

Freelance contributor

Kaan freelances for various websites including Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, and this one, Gamesradar. He particularly enjoys writing about spooky indies, throwback RPGs, and anything that's vaguely silly. Also has an English Literature and Film Studies degree that he'll soon forget.