This game again - It’s a good game I swear.
Image: Square-Enix / Team Ninja (Final Fantasy Wiki)

Square-Enix have touted the arcade brawler as their entry into the eSports world, perhaps tooting their own horn too early. They bought themselves some early interest by putting forward a pre-release tournament with FGC folks who’d never really played the game before, then getting themselves a slot on the Wednesday Night Fights tournament series. ESL has picked it up for online tournaments which routinely have several teams competing at a high enough level. Yet even with all that early interest, Dissidia will not be eSports.

WNF has dropped Dissidia NT from its line up after the initial series was done. CEOtaku got great initial community response which led them to add the title to the roster, but so far only one team has registered (there are some intrinsic problems to that which I’ll cover later, but it’s still not a good look). The title also hasn’t exactly sold very well - It fell far under predictions, though Square-Enix didn’t seem to care as Arcade is where they make their money with the title. Then there’s all the logistics of actually running a Dissidia tournament to consider. It’s easy to understand why people just don’t bother. Still, here is an explanation as to all the problems this fun team brawler has to overcome in order to rise as the eSports ready title Square-Enix wants it to be.

Infrastructure

One Dissidia NT match.
Photo: Level Up Productions (Level Up Series)

Right now, to run a Dissidia NT tournament, you need either of these set-ups per station:

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  • 6 Arcade Cabinets with active Internet connections (which you cannot get outside of Japan)
  • 6 PS4s with game installed with all DLCs and active Internet connections alongside 6 monitors (preferably lagless)

Just due to the sheer amount of set-ups needed, it’s no wonder the game hasn’t been picked up for offline tournaments. 1 Dissidia NT set up = 6 tournament setups for any other game, and 1 and a half setup for Gundam Versus.

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How about online then? NT’s online is absolute garbage. There’s no other way to put it unfortunately. Since the game is directly ported from Japanese arcades where the Internet conditions and infrastructure are similar enough (all cabinets are wired connections), they did not need to really put a lot of time into the netcode. Plus, Japan is the size of Florida so latency is just not a concern.

Yes Ì’m reusing this image like I’m reusing this subject! Recycling!
Image: Memes

When you take that kind of netcode, make no changes to it, and send it off into the world, you send off the game to die. Reports of intolerable lag, dropped connections, “Failed to receive Data”, abound. Interestingly enough, the game seems to be able to handle latency somewhat well. JP players have played with West Coast players after all. As soon as you introduce a packet drop, all hell breaks loose since it’s a P2P connection.

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What could be the solution? First of all, introducing a LAN mode is best for offline tournaments - Only a streaming station would need internet, so getting the consoles to just recognize offline modes would be amazing. However, after that it gets hazy. You can decide to concentrate specifically on online tournaments like ESL, but then the connection problems that I’ve outlined become an issue. Offline will absolutely require a LAN mode and more community presence than the sales of the game indicate can ever happen.

And then, there’s more logistic problems...

The Game Has Two Rulesets

Example of content that will not come to the PS4 port for at least 2 months - The Firion “refresh”

Arcade will always be two months ahead of NT since it needs it to be profitable. Why play the Arcade version when you can just sit comfortably at home and experience all the game has to offer for only a few bucks in comparison?

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S-E saw that one coming a mile away, and thus always introduces new content such as stages, characters and character refreshes (drastic changes to characters that can go up to changing HP attacks completely, as the recently announced Firion refresh showed) in addition to having content exclusive to Arcade that can only be accessed in NT by transferring the Arcade data over to NT.

Let’s say they decide they want to run a World Tour - This wouldn’t be out of character for a publisher. Capcom has one, WB has one, SNK has its own eSports outreach program, and ArcSystemWorks announced their own tour last Evo. Which ruleset do they run on? If they run on Arcade, well, that’s at least one character the rest of the world can’t practice against, with changes they also can’t really access. Still, it worked well enough for Tekken 7, so it is a viable solution. If they run on NT, that means they’re killing off Arcade for good as no one who takes the game seriously in Japan will want to practice Arcade, which is not a solution they want for their pocketbooks.

The only solution I can see would be character changes are mirrored across both platforms, but not new stages, characters and refreshes. At least that way, the ruleset would be consistent and only new content, rather than patches, would differentiate the two. However, this is likely not a solution Square-Enix would like, because it would require double the amount of patches. This is the sacrifice you must make in order to have an eSports title, I’m afraid.

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Team Logistics

So, one team has registered for CEOtaku. Why is this?

Simply put, other than the ESL teams, no one plays in an actual team. CEOtaku is a preregistration event - meaning all 3 members need to register as a team. Usually in these types of events people’d just make the teams based off vibes when meeting people at the venue, yelling out “YO WE NEED A THIRD WHO IN?” and various other things like that. That can’t happen at a pre-registration event because you cannot register day of the tournament. (Note: Jebailey seems to have made it so that you can register for the tournament without having a team, but you will have to make a team prior to the deadline).

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Dissidia doesn’t have the numbers to justify pre-registration teams. As much as Square-Enix has done work to foster the scene in the west, it sure as shit ignored the East Coast, with CEOtaku being the first event on the East Coast that they’ve sponsored... and it took some time - Originally Jebailey didn’t even want to host the game because of the amount of things necessary, including extra internet for the venue (which costs extra, of course), but they decided to help him out. Unfortunately, the team logistics aspect may end up screwing up the event and the perception of Dissidia as a whole, something it doesn’t need right now.

This is a shame because under all the problems the game has, the game is good - It suffered from perceptions of being something it wasn’t (a follow up to the well-received Dissidia and Dissidia 012) and people purchasing it without knowing it was an arcade brawler with not much story. Square-Enix didn’t help matters by selling the game at the triple A price point where the content of the game simply did not match that, but still - At the current price point it’s a good enough entry, and they knew they’d be making more money with the DLC since that’s where most of people’s nostalgia buys will come from. After all, Rinoa’s coming to NT this week - and a lot of people are anxious to give her a try.

Meanwhile, I’m anxious to cave her face in with my Shadow Dragon.