What is your personal barrier of entry into fighting games?

With the release of Marvel vs Capcom Infinite there are bound to be tons of new players trying out the franchise for the first time. For some this could be their first fighting game and like many players before them they will play the new game for a month or so and never touch it again.

One of my personal goals is to help people understand the deeper mechanics of fighting games so they can better appreciate the nuance of high level play or even just enjoy playing at an above beginner level. With this in mind, What turns you away from fighting games?

  • Are the controls too demanding?
  • Do you not enjoy the aesthetics?
  • Is the pressure too high in a 1v1 situation?
  • Do you not have anyone to play with locally and don’t find online play exciting?
  • Are high level tactics too obfuscated ?
  • Is the fan base too toxic?

Any or all of these reasons could be valid but what turn YOU away from fighting games?

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•Do you not have anyone to play with locally and don’t find online play exciting?

This held me back for a very long time, eventually just got enough of my friends into them and grew my own competition.

Memorisation of moves and corresponding counter-plays, reading moves as they happen when this needs to be done in a fraction of a second including choosing how to respond.

They can be fun (in extremely casual play) but I’ll never get good at something that’s got a move list longer than about a dozen inputs. Fighting games all seem to have move lists much longer than this and require precision on the pad (be that fighting to input directions or just requiring exact timing on button presses) to even get them to register correctly. This is all extremely not why I play games (I’ll also avoid more than casual play for other genre that are all about the micro).


bad reflexes and also having no one to play and also pretty much everything @Shivoa said

I just straight up don’t like 1v1. Too much pressure and you don’t even get the fun element of extemporizing cooperative strategy like you theoretically do in team-based PvP.

The second part is why I will watch/have watched competitive matches for things that I don’t play competitively myself, but have not sought out fighting game tournaments to watch.

edit: well, part of it, anyway. I admit that this is an off-the-cuff answer.

This is why I’ve found a lot of enjoyment out of games like Niddhog, Divekick & Absolver. Moves and counter plays feel really straight forward & execution gets better through general play rather than having to dedicate a full week to getting it down in the first place.
Absolver also allows me to customize my moves & thus create my own combos that I can fool around with freely. The game presenting itself like a dojo where you are learning from your opponents rather than simply competing makes it feel a little less competitive & more cooperative even though there mostly is no real difference.


Demanding controls aren’t really a problem for me because I’ve been playing them off and on my whole life, but they make it pretty much impossible for me to recruit any friends to play with casually. However, I will say that complicated strings of inputs with difficult timing are much more of a hindrance than they used to be. I simply don’t have the time to spend hours working combos into my muscle memory so I can punish without thinking about it.

This is definitely a factor. Online play is a great way to see a variety of tactics and to step up your game, but ultimately just feels like a never ending grind if I don’t know anyone personally to measure skill levels with.

These are factors as well. High level tactics, particularly in tag-based fighters like MVC are very obtuse and demanding. I don’t have the time to be well practiced with one character, let alone figure out 2 or 3 that complement each others’ specials and assists in a way that can be competitive. And the online toxicity that’s present in all competitive games feels particularly demeaning and personal in a 1v1 environment.

But ultimately for me, I just don’t want to invest the time I know is required to play at a level that would be satisfying for me. I’m constantly on the lookout for games with simpler inputs that can provide a similar level of satisfaction that comes from a tense win where you know you outplayed your opponent. Games like For Honor, Absolver, Rising Thunder (RIP), and Fantasy Strike.

The controls are just way to complicated and require too much precision for me. Most of the time if I’m actually trying to learn the game, I feel like I’m fighting with the controller more than anything. Especially anything that requires precise movement inputs, for some reason I can never do that stuff consistently.

I prefer the concept of fighting games as tests of on-the-fly tactical skill and strategy that you get in IRL fighting, but it always feels like the controls get in the way of that. If there ever is a reinvention of the control scheme, I’ll be one of the first to check it out.

The time commitment required to get familiar with one character, let alone a bunch, is generally a turn-off for me. I’ve played a few Tekkens, MK 9, Injustice 1 & 2, and MvC 2 & 3 as background and it’s just really tough to put in enough time for the game to be enjoyable.

Which leads to my second issue: fighting games are tough to enjoy until you get good “enough.” That floor varies from game-to-game, but it takes some investment from the player to power through until you get a handle on the mechanics and maybe another character.

To echo @Bugseye, one old issue I’ve had with fighting games that is rearing it’s head with the modern revival is the sheer amount of time building muscle-memory can take for each new fighting game franchise. I call it the ‘panic-baseline’ of skill your hands will remember in a tense competitive match. (i.e. shoryuken on reaction to an opponents unprotected jump-in)

UMvC3 could really feel like an enjoyable rhythm puzzle game just practicing long combo strings in training mode.

Conversely, learning a new, unique fighting game can be the most exciting thing to an FGC vet when old games get stale.

My main problem is that I feel like I don’t have the time to play one enough to get good at it. I don’t really get a feeling of progress if I play online or go to a local and lose a bunch of matches. I’d be more satisfied playing a single-player game with a definitive ending that I’m working towards.

But given infinite time, I’d be all over fighting for games.

Learning combos sucks. It’s memorization for stuff that in other genres the game would basically try to automate for you. And it’s 90% of getting into fighting games. Anyone can learn what a cross-up is and when to guard high vs guard low, but learning combos is where only the die-hards actually get through. It’s why people like when fighters are friendly to button-mashing, or when there’s stuff like Smash Bros where combos are possible but more physics-driven and probably more intuitive for a casual player. I’m sure someone will hate me for just mentioning Smash Bros at all, but that series clearly has a huge casual appeal and is much more accessible than the traditional 2D or 3D fighter genre is.

And these combos usually require obscenely fast reflexes and dexterity. I gave up on Injustice 2 because, while I got how the game worked and understood how to do individual moves, combos required me to do inputs faster than I can physically do them to actually work. There’s a point where you can’t improve at a game anymore, just because of your own physical limitations, and I hit that point in lots of fighting games I’ve tried. They expect me to execute every move with the speed of a pro when I just want to relax and punch my friends without the both of us feeling like we’re just mashing buttons.

Also there’s no way for people to actually practice playing the game against other players that isn’t really high-pressure, unless they have a local fighting game scene. And if they do, they have to hope that the local scene cares about whatever game they’re interested in. If I wanted to get into Soul Calibur 2 at this point there’s nobody to play with even within local scenes, and online play for any game still hasn’t gotten past the point of feeling distinctly different from actually playing in person.

There’s problems within fighting games themselves, and there’s problems within the ‘world’ of fighting games. Neither are easily solved without causing other issues.


This is just one of those things where you need to put in the time and the work. Growing up as a child of a low-income family with infinite time on my hands, I had ample opportunity to learn the ropes of fighting games, but I put my efforts towards learning music and other game genres instead. Now, as an adult with slightly more money and less time, I’m still interested in fighting games, but not enough to forego the plethora of great games already within my wheelhouse.

But make no mistake, lowering the barrier of entry wouldn’t solve this problem for me. The fantasy is one of mastery, of overcoming those high barriers and becoming confident in my skills. I look at high-level fighting game play the same way I looked at high-level musicianship as a child, with aspirations of standing shoulder to shoulder with them as equals. But the fact is that that ship has sailed, and I made my choice long ago.

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It’s difficult to find players who spend approximately the same amount of effort in playing fighting games as I do; I basically learn a few basic combos with a character and never try to do better than that. So, I’ll beat a casual player who just picks the game up, but I will get thoroughly demolished by anyone who spends even slightly more time than that. For a time I tried to get semi-serious with Smash 4 because the inputs for that game are simple (even swapping from a fast character to a slower character when I realised the previous character required much more mechanical skill to attain the same results). I’m competent and comfortable with the way I play Smash 4 now, but I don’t participate in tournaments anymore.

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there’s a reason that street fighter 2 is still considered one of the most accessible, fundamental fighters out there, and it’s because you literally cannot rely on being rewarded for combo execution. just about everything that occurs once you get a hit is heavily reliant on RNG, from damage and stun to whether or not certain combos will even link together, and what happens as a result is that everyone has to rely on getting into good positions to nail those hits instead–so, like, the actual footsies game that makes fighters fun.

i also think the ways capcom has recently tried making combos “accessible” still hasn’t helped much, though. if your combo system is so easy that someone can just mash them out in the highest-pressure situations, then you’ve nullified the one major reason those combos are at all skillful in tournament play, and that combo system is now simply a thing that new players have to learn because it’s a thing that new players have to learn. that’s not really helping people’s arguments against combos, at all, and by that point you should just go full killer instinct and add auto-combos, save them the trouble

Living in the middle of nowhere and the internet in general just not yet being good enough to work with fighting games.

The last time I got to play regularly was when arcades existed.

My big advice to anyone that wants to get into fighting games is you have to start out playing with a few friends. Generally you’ll all be at a similar skill level, and, as long as you have good friends, it’ll breed good competition and you’ll keep pushing each other to get better. I play against friends 80 percent of the time, and the rest is ranked play to get some variety and bragging rights.

A few other things:
generally, one you get to a decent understanding of your first game, every other game will come much easier to you. Most fighting games are built upon the same basic system, with a few exceptions.

Another is not all fighting games are for everyone. I love Street Fighter 3 and Blazblue, but I can’t get into Marvel V Capcom or Skullgirls at all. You might have to try more than one and see what fits!

Sorry, it’s just fighting games give me adrenaline like no other games ever have.

I’m mostly at the point where I don’t have any real community to play with. getting on the waypoint discord and finding some actual good people to play with has helped with that a lot, but there’s only so much you can do when people live in another state or country even.

The most I’ve ever gotten into a fighter was when playing my brother in Marvel 3. I learned a few actual skills and stopped relying on the basic combos that could annihilate beginners.

basically I always get to the point where I’m know enough to destroy casual players and put them off while not being able to fight at all against someone who knows what they’re doing.

that said I’ve had a lot of fun this year with puyo puyo tetris and street fighter v, just trying to improve, even if I’m still at the lowest ranks

Transferable Skill

Big thanks to everyone who replied to this thread. To me, this is very valuable information.

I noticed that many people here have the valid concern that they just don’t have the time to commit to any single fighting game. I spent some time thinking about this topic and wanted to put together a list of skills that transfer between games in the off chance you were still interested in playing fighting games but were concerned specifically about the time sink into a single game.

  • Performing Specials - With few exceptions, the way that special attacks are performed in 2D fighting games are widely ubiquitous. A Shoryuken is a Volcanic Viper is a Shiki Oniyaki is an Inferno Divider is an Updo is a… all so functionally similar that fighting game shorthand boils down to calling these moves a DP (Shoryuken translates to “Rising Dragon Fist” which was abbreviated to “Dragon Punch” and finally initialized to DP). Once you learn the general motions of one 2D fighting game, you then hold the Rosetta Stone to most other 2D fighters.

  • Performing Cancels - Cancelling normal attacks into special attacks is another common trait shared in Fighting Games. The speed of the cancel and the buttons used to perform the cancel might be slightly different but the cadence of a special cancel will almost never change. You must first make contact with your opponent then cancel the recovery frames into a special move. There are of course special cases where you can kara-cancel (“empty”-cancel, cancel out of the startup frames) but generally speaking the mechanics of canceling are a common skill across fighting games.

  • Ability to Perform Combos - While combo speed and length might change from game to game, the technical proficiency to perform these combos does carry over. This may seem unrealistic at first but consider for a moment the technical ability required to play a guitar. With enough practice your left hand will be able to move quickly up and down the fretboard and your right hand will be on time with the rhythm. Now place a Cello in the guitarist’s hands. Their left hand may stumble a bit trying to find the right place on the fretboard but they still maintain the speed and dexterity. Their right hand may not have ever held a bow but their brain still links the rhythmic motion of the right hand to when they are holding down a note with their left. It will sound bad at first but with a little bit of effort the guitarist will quickly be able to learn the Cello. The same type of transition of skill happens with fighting games. The 1 frame link you spent weeks learning will serve to later technically prepare you for the 1 frame link in another game where it might only take three or four tries before you land the difficult combo.

  • Combo Building - When a new fighting game is released, the most exciting time can be the discovery of combo potential. You pick a character you like, find out what their fastest normals are which you might want to use for hit confirms. Then you start looking at what normals are cancellable or even which specials can link into other special attacks. This will require some lab work but this process of discovering combos is like trying to speak a second language but you don’t quite have the vocabulary. Your mind will already know what it wants to say, but you don’t know the exact word in this second language. So you say that particular word in your first language or try to pantomime the idea you’re trying to communicate and suddenly the person you’re talking to understands what you’re trying to say. The same thing is true of fighting games. You attempt a crouching medium kick cancelled into a quarter circle forward heavy punch and you might not get a low forward fireball but instead get something you don’t recognize at all. Now you’re performing combos you’ve never considered before, speaking a language you don’t quite understand, excited by the thrill of discovery.

  • Okizeme - Often times when you search online for combos you’ll find short clips of your character doing max damage with full resources in the corner starting from a jump in. At first blush you might think that this is how your character should be dealing damage or that this is a common combo. However, most players worth their salt will recognize that you will almost never see the “MAX DAMAGE COMBO 100% FULL METER NO RESET (NOT CLICKBAIT)” combos in a real match. What you’re really after is the type of knockdown, or air reset which potentially lead to more damage. With a little bit of practice and testing you will find ways to attack your opponent as they are getting off the ground or you will recognize what combo enders do not allow you to continue to pressure your opponent. At the very least you will know the value of wakeup pressure.

  • Understanding of Space Control - While this might take longer to execute properly, at a basic level you will have an understanding of what areas of the screen can be contested. Mobility and control can vary drastically between games but the concept of whiff punishing or putting yourself in an advantageous position is common throughout fighting games. Hopping over lows, jumping over projectiles, using projectiles to force your opponent into a certain position, backdashing to force a whiff, or even side stepping straight attacks are all techniques that your brain will immediately see and pick up on once you have a basic understanding of space control. In practice, you might be wrong about certain assumptions so you will need to put in the time to test specific situations.

  • Understanding Advantage - At the extreme end of the spectrum you know inherently that if you block a DP you will be allowed to punish the recovery. It is easy to see when your opponent is stuck in recovery and you will know it is safe to attack even if you haven’t learned your max damage punish. Another common situation is when your opponent blocks a projectile at range once you’ve already recovered. Because they are stuck in blockstun you can clearly recognize that you have the advantage. Things get tricky when certain moves aren’t obviously punishable but that doesn’t mean you need to do a deep dive into the frame data. Simply test your hypothesis by blocking then pressing your fastest attack. If you are counterhit and they go on to perform a game ending combo, congratulations, you’ve learned that your opponent has the advantage in that situation.

  • Reading your Opponent - Being able to pick up on player tendencies extends well beyond the realm of fighting games. You can learn this skill playing poker. However, being able to execute on the information your opponent is giving you requires practice and game knowledge. If you understand your opponent’s options you can very quickly begin to punish them severely for sticking to patterns or attempting risky offense.

Variety Increases Personal Skill - The hidden benefit of playing different fighting games is that it opens up your mind and almost always helps your fighting game skillset. For example, playing a faster pace game will help your reactions in a slower paced game. Playing a game which puts an emphasis on movement and spacing will benefit your sense of space in games that don’t put a focus on movement. Of course the variety of fighting games available make it impossible that all of your experience will be a 1-to-1 facsimile across all fighting games. However, the skills you learn often translate between games, especially when you stay within a certain franchise.

Fighting games is as much about your personal achievement as it is of others. You want to do cool stuff and you want to see others do the cool stuff. Combos is what ties fighting games together to offer the depth needed to express yourself in a video game in ways that the vast majority of games will never allow you to do.

People doesn’t like FGs because it’s not a linear progression and the burden of the blame cannot be shifted. If you suck at a fighting game, then you suck, it’s on you. In a MOBA, you can spend three thousand hours telling yourself your team fucked up and you’ll be perfectly fine telling without ever questioning yourself.

To put the onus solely on the player in this digital era is a decision that every other popular genre is working hard to avoid. It’s the very reason why fighting games will never be able to develop itself past a niche market. We’re in a controlled RNG stage, in which even competitive genres are putting more and more random elements that are invisible to the player to be able to enjoy a game regardless of its skill level. They’re regulating frustration, FGs cannot.