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“It was absolutely necessary this time” Why Tekken 8 has so much on-disc content at launch

The days of skinny fighting game launch content are (once again) over, as Tekken 8 dazzles with a packed offering on Day One.

A close-up of Kuma the bear in Tekken 8, with the roster peeking out behind him. Kuma is saluting, and wearing his master Heihachi's old clothes.
Image credit: VG247/Bandai Namco

Tekken 8 might be one of the most confident games I’ve seen in years. Aside from the fact that it is a belter of a fighting game, the developers and marketing types at Bandai Namco seem to know that they’ve got something special on their hands. Just look at what we’ve seen from Tekken 8 so far; a wealth of trailers, some incredible roster announcement, two different online playtests ahead of launch, and – now – a massive single-player focused demo that lets you try a significant amount of the game ahead of launch.

Think back to the skinnier launch packet of Tekken 7, or the lean offering Street Fighter 5 had at launch – and it seems like a lifetime ago. It seems like fighting games, more than any other genre right now, are making amends for the past.

“The series, throughout its history, has always been known for its ‘in-the-box content’,” says Kohei Ikeda, director of Tekken 8. “So I think people are mostly referring to Tekken 7 when they complain about [what was there at launch]. So, at the start of Tekken 8, we really focused on what fans thought made Tekken, well, Tekken, right?

“That’s characters, the story, the content outside of just the head-to-head fighting – all this stuff is really important to fans of the series. And, what’s also important to them, is buying a fun package for a set price, and getting a lot of content for investing in it – that is something people expect. We realise that that was the benchmark for Tekken 8.”

As a result, Ikeda tells me that the development team focused on making sure the game was brimming to capacity with good, engaging content. As well as the robust and innovative training tools that have been expanded upon since Tekken 7, Ikeda and his crew have ensured there’s “a lot of volume for the story, a huge roster, and a lot of single player content included in the game from launch”.

“It was tough to achieve” he laughs, “but it is something we put a lot of effort into, and we realised that it was absolutely necessary for this game.”

Tekken 8 Victor character reveal
New characters? Check. | Image credit: Bandai Namco

And the fact that we’re seeing the fruits of the Tekken team’s labour so readily really does say a lot about the developer’s confidence in the game. This is the first time – ever – that a Tekken game has been brought directly to console, worldwide, simultaneously. Up until now, the team would have had the capability to monitor player data in arcades, harvest feedback and monitor hardcore player opinions. This isn’t the case for Tekken 8, of course.

“Since we don't have that this time, we had to find that another way to do [get this feedback],” says Ikeda, “as we feel that with fighting games, you can’t just make the game and then release it. You're making it together with the community, and implementing their feedback and you've got to kind-of rinse and repeat that, sometimes. Since we don't have that arcade environment to do that with in Tekken 8, we had to find a different approach – and that is the CNT and the CBT. And they’ve left a positive impression… so far!”

Tekken 8 producer (and my translator for this interview), Michael Murray jumps in to share his two cents. “I made a tweet about this recently; Tekken is many things to many people. I think a lot of the vocal people focus on something, specifically, like eSports top-level play. And if it doesn’t fit their view, then it shouldn’t be in Tekken.

Overview shot of Arcade Quest in Tekken 8; avatars stand around in a central hub in an in-game Arcade in Tekken 8, flanked by a clothes shop and virtual dojo.
New modes? Check. | Image credit: Bandai Namco

“It’s important to remind people that there are so many different types of people that love the franchise; some just want to play through story mode, some just want to go through the gallery and look at the art of their favoruite characters. Just because what you want it, that doesn’t mean everyone else does. Tekken is so big that there’s a wide range of things we have to cover to please the most people we can; so we have story mode, we have game balance that supports the Tekken World Tour [esports element], and we have to think about the volume of content for the average gamer that wants a satisfying experience for whatever price they’re paying for a full game.”

Murray reckons the team has struck a good balance this year, but also notes that you need a thick skin in order to weather some of the feedback from the most passionate fans. “You need to be able to stand back and take a rational look at the opinions coming in. And you have to balance it, to make sure you deliver for the fans.”

Well, in seeing how much content there is to look forward to in Tekken 8 in 2024 – and seeing how well-realised it is, and how the quality matches the quantity – I’d say that the Tekken team has hit the nail on the head. This looks to be one of the most content-packed and generous Tekken games in recent memory. And it looks set to be an all-timer.

Tekken 8 finally launches on January 26, 2024 on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

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