Tekken And Dead Or Alive Producers Talk About Making Fighting Games Free To Play

By Sato . October 16, 2013 . 5:36pm

Tekken and Dead or Alive have both recently shared the experience of testing out the free-to-play market for the first time. In a recent interview with Famitsu, Tekken series producer Katsuhiro Harada sat down with Dead or Alive producer Yosuke Hayashi to discuss their thoughts on the free-to-play market.


Famitsu starts out by asking what gave them the idea to release their games games in the form of free-to-play titles.



“While there are various factors, one of them is because the genre of fighting games has been maturing, but it has been struggling to reach out to new players,” says Harada. “Maybe if fighting games were a little cheaper, more people would buy them, meaning it could possibly increase the competitive population and make it more lively? So, assuming that is the case, we decided to go all out and make it free.”


“Perhaps if we can further reach out fighting games, which have somewhat matured too much with a rather enthusiastic crowd, we can spread them to a wider audience, giving them another chance to try the out. This could be the connection for something better next time around,” he elaborates.


Harada also explains that Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle Operation’s success was also one of the reasons for making Tekken Revolution available for free.


“As for Dead or Alive, Ultimate came out after 5, which makes it harder to sell more than the latter,” Hayashi offers. “For this reason, there are less online opponents. Since we put a lot of effort into developing the online play, we’d like to have many people enjoy it. The idea is to throw in players of the free version as possible opponents.”


“Again,we collect data of those who’ve been playing Dead or Alive 5 online everyday, and they’re all very good,” he continues elaborates. “It has come to the point where it could become a game with only good players; however, fighting games are always more fun to play with others who are closer to your level. For this reason, we aim to use the basic free version as a way to have both good players and beginners enjoy it all at once.”


Harada then points out that they originally expected the average play time for the free version of Tekken to be roughly between 30 minutes to an hour, but was surprised to see it stand at three hours.


According to Harada, Tekken Revolution was a trial to see what it would be like to have a virtual arcade center, that is much cheaper than the 100 yen per-play, and his team was able to gather interesting data from the experiment.


Famitsu then asks about how their respective companies saw the idea of making some of their biggest IPs into F2P versions, and whether they were against it and had to be persuaded, or if it was the other way around.


“For us, the company didn’t really make us do anything at first,” Hayashi says about Tecmo Koei. “After making a presentation saying ‘I have this kind of dream, and I’d like to be able to do it,’ they understood. Of course I explained things such as ‘This is how much it is being played online’ and ‘This is how much the DLC is being downloaded,’ but for Tecmo Koei, it will be the first free-to-play game, so it will be something like a touchstone for the company.”


Meanwhile, Harada replies with a laugh, “For us… rather, Shin Unozawa (Namco Bandai vice-president) said ‘Whatever, but can we release it soon?’” He further explains that Unozawa asked if Tekken Revolution could be made in two months, and that Harada faced quite the pressure regarding the time it would take to complete.


Famitsu then asks the question many have been wondering: whether we’ll be seeing a Tekken and Dead or Alive collaboration anytime soon.


“If Tekken and Dead or Alive collaborate, well, we already have Dead or Alive and Virtua Fighter; and Tekken and Street Fighter are already collaborating, so everything would be stuck together. Nobody would know what’s going on anymore,” Harada replies jokingly.


The two are then asked to share some of their thoughts on their experience thus far, on having released F2P versions of their respective games.


Harada starts out by explaining that the idea of F2P can’t be bundled into one. While they both share the common goal of wanting to make more of a profit, it varies for each title. As he points out, the rival franchise Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate has the goal of getting more people to purchase the full game.


While agreeing, Hayashi also points out that Tekken Revolution is a way to increase the competition, by adding a new dimension that allows players to raise their own characters to test them out against veteran players of the series. He says that due to Dead or Alive 5 being the first main numbered game in a while, they would like to have as many new players possible, while further expanding the series.


Tekken has been steadily releasing on arcades and home consoles, so it has its ground,” says Harada. “While there are many veteran and core players, the question is ‘What do we make them do?’ which I believe is the difference. However, Ono-chin [note: Capcom’s Yoshinori Ono] did say ‘Hayashi’s methods are better’ or something like that, but I thought, ‘That’s just your opinion’.”


“All he ever does is complain about, ‘So when is Tekken x Street Fighter coming out?’ and such,” Harada adds with a laugh.


“I met him during E3, and ‘Hayashi, I like your way of doing it best,’ was the first thing he told me,” says Hayashi with a laugh.


Harada responds, “Oh, come on, Ono! You’re the most [editorial restraint by Famitsu] How about that? [laughs]”


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  • MasterScrub

    Wow, Tekken and Dead or Alive producers sitting around and chatting? That never would have happened if Itagaki was still around.

    • KyoyaHibari

      I was just going to say…I had forgotten Itagaki left with DoA5, so my initial reaction to the headline was: “Holy crap. How is Itagaki (not knowing it was Hayashi) able to have a composed discussion with Harada when he hates his games to death and is super vocal about it?” Then I remembered lol.

    • Jezzy

      They’re totally best buddies.

      • AAa

        O_O… and what’s that speech about he hates Tekken..? A friendly joke..or a friendly reminder that they are rival?

        • Zachary Ortiz

          Itagaki’s a fucking scumbag. I wouldn’t blame Harada if he really wanted to fuck Itagaki’s ass up in a fight.

  • Chaos_Knight

    …and then they team up and make a Tekken and Dead or Alive crossover.

    • This.

    • Eder García

      RIP TEKKEN X Street Fighter

      • BTW, what happened to it? IIRC, it was mentioned alongside SF X Tekken back then. Capcom canceled it?

        • Setsu Oh

          still working on it i heard lately. put on hold for rev i suppose, thks to this article.

        • Chaos_Knight

          Namco is in charge of this. Besides Haruda DID mention Tekken and Street Fighter in this article.

    • AAa

      Well..KOEI was trying to attack Capcom whenever they wanted to especially against basara, but it seems they failed to topple basara’s awesome gameplay, that they try to attack Tekken x SF??

      • Alexander Marquis Starkey

        Tecmo Koei may be the parent company, but Tecmo and Koei do there own thing. Team Ninja, as well as Tecmo as a whole, have shown themselves to be more competent, and this is coming from some who is a Warriors player.

    • Demeanor

      I really can’t begin to imagine what kind of battle system would that game have… better to work on Tekken 7 and DoA 6 for next gen XD

  • ReidHershel

    Can I be one of these guys? Producing recognized video games that are high quality and having a fun time doing so, that’d be awesome. :D

  • NightzeroAX

    “According to Harada, Tekken Revolution was a trial to see what it would be like to have a virtual arcade center, that is much cheaper than the 100 yen per-play, and his team was able to gather interesting data from the experiment.”

    The TTT2 and TR board on gamefaqs were saying how this game was testing grounds for TKXSF mostly because of the added invincible moves. Just thought I’d put that out there. Also inb4 F2P Street Fighter.

    • Nitraion

      judgeing from capcom recent action…
      F2P street fighter is kinda impposible but who knows….

    • Setsu Oh

      i want f2p sfxtk to check it out. never did.

  • harmonyworld

    I buy a fighting game….free to play forever….so….what???


    you guys don’t know how impossible this would be during Itagaki times. Like seriously just a thought of a colaboration between TK and DOA would be impossible. And there’s still that Tekken fanbase vs DOA fanbase threads because the rivalry that was builded in the past decade.

    The problem with getting more people to play fighting games is because how restrict the genre always have been. so doing a F2P version is a good way to get people but then we have tha FGC jerk who bash the F2P version because it isn’t “competitive”.

    >“Oh, come on, Ono! You’re the most [editorial restraint by Famitsu] How about that? [laughs]”

    Japanese neo…HARADA! is still the good old Harada. he is one of the few guys in game industry that still makes me have interest in playing game.

    If we even manage to get a TK and DOA crossover i hope it plays more like Tekken since i can’t get into DOA because of the Hold system. Or if they went that SFxTK and TkxSF route i’ll just get TKxDOA

    • KyoyaHibari

      In the event of a hypothetical DoA & Tekken mashup, I’d want it to be with DoA’s engine, seeing how DoA5 was the game that got me OUT OF Tekken lol. There’s the odd Tekken character here and there that looks cool and such, so it would be even better if I could play them with DoA’s system which I prefer much much more. If we bring Virtua Fighter into the picture, that seems a lot more likely given that VF chars are already in DoA5 and Itagaki held VF in high regard, so there was definitely a strong relationship which led to the characters crossing over in the first place even with Itagaki passing on the torch. My main gripe is which characters they did decide to choose seeing how there’s 2 female Chinese martial arts practitioners with smooth, languid attacks and 2 Jeet Kune Do practitioners only set apart by certain move nuances and movement styles rooted in their home franchises to make them different with the VF characters adapting a mix between the 2 games’ engines to make for smooth transitioning. I’d like to see Aoi, Eileen, Vanessa, etc. I think there are more viable candidates they could’ve gone with, then again I enjoy using Pai a lot.

      • Setsu Oh

        what i desire now if vf team at work on vf vs doa.
        but i m sure they are just making the new vf and thats it. so boring.

    • Setsu Oh

      the thing with doa and vf is you can interrupt your attack at any time to mindgame ur opponent thks to the guard button. like a reset one. doa5 got it even better by adding back as a guard too so you have both guard button and back to use. it is really fun.
      ANOTHER THING is the S&M sheat i see in tekken. you HAVE to take the 8hit combo and drop your pad praying for the guy to drop his combo.
      that is bs in Doa. what you can predict, you can hold. so byebye wanking for the other player who is touching himself unleashing an never ending combo(then ‘bounce’ and aaaaanother round of combos in ttt2). at anytime , if you get the next hit, you can parry it and punch his sheat in.(best Aris expression in years :p)

    • Tee Niitris

      I like Tekken’s gameplay better, but I’d would prefer it play more like DoA. It’s more fun to watch, and holds would give the game that extra dimension that Tekken lacks. The combos would look less obnoxious too (I like bound and stuff but it does looks awkward).

  • Nitraion

    Well i want DOA x VF happen soon
    or maybe DOA x VF x Tekken???

    • Setsu Oh

      too many cchars for casuals(assault) too many for advanced players(matchups)

  • leingod

    DOA vs Tekken makes much more sense to me than Tekken vs SF. SF should’ve had a game vs KOF :D

    • Tonton Ramos

      Capcom vs SNK 3 would be nice…

      • Setsu Oh

        what if snk was asking for 3d workers for snk vs cap 2???

        • Tee Niitris

          SNKP did say that they wanted to make NeoGeo Battle Coliseum 2 (which was basically the “sequel” to SvC) and that they are open to working with Capcom again.

          The move to 3D should help them reach a bigger audience too, so Capcom could see value in working with SNK again. Anything is possible.

          • leingod

            I can only dream of a KOF game that looks like Guilty Gear Xrd does.

          • Setsu Oh

            OH NO plz NO

          • leingod

            Why the hell no? It’s polygonal models that look really close to the original 2D art. How is that bad?

          • Setsu Oh

            the kof you are thinking about follows more street fighter than kof itself. i mean: you are talking about fatal fury 12 and 13 which isnt kof. kof isnt about character who look like they just got off of some cartoon (ref to the ‘new’ chara design Nona who does things like falcoon did) .
            i hope kof 3d looks more like orochi chapter kof than this freakin FFury13 shit.

          • leingod

            I didn’t mean an art style in particular… I just meant the whole 2.5D stuff Guilty Gear Xrd is achieving.

            I too prefer the pre-XII KOF sprites and art, and BTW… I never even mentioned XII and XIII as you say.

          • Setsu Oh

            i find ffury13 way too popular it makes me worry for kof14. it seems to be in 3d as i doubt snk will bet money on any other of their franchise and they offered positions related to 3d game making. i just hope it wont be a wild ambition/impact shenanigan again, this time in hd.

            what i want for the japanese fighting games (i dont care much about the other 2) is to get free from 2d.

            and embrace 3d. there are so many options in full 3d i m tired of the same 25yo sheat wrapped in a cute paperbag.

          • leingod

            KOF XIII was a good game from a gameplay standpoint, but I too hated the art. For example, Ralf and Clark look ridiculously muscular… not to mention the sprites look way too pixeled.

            So I hope they use 3D models for the next one, without losing the 2D gameplay. Just like GG Xrd :P (that’s what I meant in the beggining)

          • Setsu Oh

            kof 13(&12) was a fatal fury game to begin with hence the good gaeplay but i heard you the 1rst time, my problem woiith 2.5d is it is a copout. they dont want to bother with the slew of options full 3d brings so they dev 2d with nice flowers and decorum: the 0.5d. i hate it. nice effects wont make me forget the fuull 3d madness tekken is and i m sad to see those staples of videogaming shy away from that yummy jar of pickeled eggs.

          • Setsu Oh

            from cap , it is snk’s fault if there isn’t online on cvs2 psn.snk didnt answer them.

    • Setsu Oh

      VF vs DOA and DOA vs VF .
      didnt happen yet.

      more important.
      5measly chars isnt doavsVf. the best chars are not there. JEAN vs HAYABUSA! now THATS a challenge!

    • Setsu Oh

      ??doa vs tk doesnt make sense either. its vf vs doa, tk vs mk, kof vs sf3, lab0 vs arcsys…

      • leingod

        It doesn’t? Both are 3D-plane fighters.

        • Setsu Oh

          different tones. sf and mk are both 2d.

          • leingod

            Yeah, but SF and MK… those REALLY are different in tone. Gameplay-wise, I can see both in a crossover, but MK’s violence is the problem.

            On the other side, Asuka fighting Kasumi or Kazuya fighting Ryu Hayabusa wouldn’t look too out of place.

          • Setsu Oh

            yes it would tekken is hardcore violence, dopa hrdcore pervs

  • Magnumsally

    No gamer should indulge these creeps. They said they only care about reaching more users through cheep tactics and not improving the quality of the game

    F2P ruins fighting games by cutting content. Not making it better

    • Guest

      Fighting games are already free to play, you just have to pay a one time fee to own the game

      There is no monthly subscribtion fee to play any of the Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter or Tekken games

    • KyoyaHibari

      You essentially get out of it what you put in, and they offer a small gateway to test the waters and get people interested. Think about it; it’s essentially unlimited online demos to allow people to gauge how they like the game in itself, how the online community plays and things to note in high level play and metagame. This way people who have little experience with fighters can see if they have the potential to play at a high level, (given they have the opportunity to play with other newbies and full retail owners and/or pros alike) get a feel for the engine itself and the general experiences of playing fighters and still get a fair amount of modes to hone themselves without being limited to time/level constraints or any of that business. If they like the sample, they can get as much content as they desire to broaden their experience because they have options, and even then, they can decide to stick with the standard 4 characters + alternating weekly ones and the basic solo, versus, online and training modes to give them something to do. Compare this to adventure games like say: DMC where the demo only lets you do a few specific stages, you can’t carry progress, get unlockables, etc and the limited stage options can subsequently limit good places to practice combos or w/e, plus there’s no online component there, but that’s due to the innate nature of the game mostly, but online DOES add substance and more options. With that said, if we even took demos WITH online into consideration, like say: RE6, all the other aforementioned factors hinder the experience from being varied and having things to do. You can play co-op with different people of different skill levels in general perhaps, but you are bound to the scenarios provided and their objectives, limits and such. With fighters, it is all about the competition, the freedom and the simplicity of it all, and the fun is derived FROM facing other people and not anything laid out for you in the game rather than the chosen locales for which the fighting takes part and such. With Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate: Core Fighters, you get training modes for open practice, versus and solo modes to face the CPU, online to fight online players, gain ranks and such and extra stuff like replays, title unlocking and more, all at no cost. To me it is a brilliant idea, especially considering the fighter genre is very niche and intimidating, they are nearly overcompensating for the staggering nature of the very genre itself to level things out with so much given to you. With a sample version with ample options to dabble in for free, newcomers won’t feel at a loss having paid for a fighter if they end up hating it and/or not being good at it which is something that many demos aim to do, but DoA5U:CF and Tekken Revolution have more to offer in them in that regard. It should go without saying that they can’t put out the whole game for free because they would make no profit for all that content, so this is a good strategy. Also, they do indeed care for improving the game (with DoA at least, haven’t played much of TR) seeing how they have balance patches to refine some moves and such, so yeah, it is a matter of time, thorough analysis and assured legibility that goes into the balance patches so things don’t get too glitchy, overpowered, etc.

      • anthony apduhan

        but what about crossover dream roster fighting games like(MVC, CVS, Capcom vs whatever, Smash Bros. and etc.)? are they gonna be F2P too? if they do… there will be a problem for licensing issues.

        • Setsu Oh

          why? they just split the gains evenly.

          60/40;70/30(there is always 1 party working more than the other: CAPvs snk SNK vs cap.

    • Odin

      You get A LOT of content for it being free, so why are you complaining? You’re not paying anything for it. In DoA, you essentially get the full game (minus story mode) with four characters, with other characters rotated out, giving you the option to try out the rest of the cast. You even get costumes.

      Again, to reiterate a point, you don’t have to pay them a DIME. These two F2P models are not demos in the traditional sense.

    • Setsu Oh

      you are the creep.

      what is important in a new title is to get back your investment or it is a failure.

      there are not enough fighting game fans to run the mill.
      new blood have to be introduced to the games and it isn t with 60 bucks price tags youll get any attention from them.


  • Chris Evan Jonance Ingeniero

    im not a fighting game lover/enthusiast.. but i think its a viable system to use the League of Legend’s Shop system when it comes to fighting games.

    The game will be free to play so….
    -The game will be updated via net for the weeks random free fighters
    -The game will have a point system/cash system in each battle
    -The fighters can be bought via ingame points or real money
    -The fighters can be customized using items randomly obtained in game/traded from other players/bought in shop
    -The game can be played Online and Offline (but if you play only in offline you will be stucked with the last randomed fighters until you go online or you purchase a specific fighter)

    what do you think?

  • AAa

    Oh..btw KOEI…instead of making DoA and Tekken…why not makes dead fantasy..so that Monty Oum can scream happily…oh wait it’s SE.

  • I actually do think this is a very smart way to expand the audience for fighting games. Harada and Ono have both been saying for years that fighting games haven’t been inclusive enough, and while SFIV was a great first step to changing that, one game isn’t going to be able to change the status quo.

    Fighting games either need to become simpler or cheaper. You can’t have them be as technical as they are now and as expensive as they are now. Even speaking as someone that loves SFIV and all of its updates, it’s still a very, very technical game. I’m no casual gamer, but I have a long, long way to go before I’ll be using FADCs. Maybe I’ll never even get to that point.

    So, the solution is to make these games more accessible to people who do have the time to put in that effort and learn the ropes. People that may not be skilled at fighting games but could become skilled at them through perseverance, but the only thing blocking the way is price and a fear of the unknown.

    • SgtKonus

      While I agree that FG’s should be more accessible. I have to say this

      Accessibility is not a solution for general laziness when it comes to learning a game.

      • It isn’t always question of laziness, though. Sometimes, it’s just a question of time. In my case, as much as I would like to learn to be a better Street Fighter player, I simply don’t have the time. So, while I may not be able to grow the userbase of skilled SF players, maybe by making fighting games more easily available (from a price standpoint), they’ll find people other than me who can.

        • SgtKonus

          That’s a fair point.

        • Setsu Oh

          i hope they dont make them easier though.
          it gets old FAST how easy some fg are.
          i really hope they abandon the combo thing. at least the overlong ones. it is tiring for the one not playing.
          the 2p game becomes a 1p rythm game the other p doesnt have anything to do during(unless they are playing DoA5 where EVERYONE has counters)

  • Nitraion

    Geez why some of you doesn’t know their concept….
    they want to you have more enemies in network battle play…
    they fear the only one who play their game is just good fighting game person and that is very limited……
    they want to widen audience….. not to lower the quality….
    to me network battle is main selling point on fighting game besides gameplay itself…

  • Setsu Oh

    I HATE ONLINE. all i do is freakin wait. wait for the room wait for the guy and sometimes even when THERE IS NO RANK in the balance some do not want to fight me. i did 5combos on this sheat!(5times in a row) that is mins of searching for another room and other players! pheuq that!
    i m casual enough to enjoy a good cpu not even at high level of idfficulty(aside from the old kofs) so yeah I HATE ONLINE.

    but i love having those kids and others spend money on what will be my next game: the next numbered title. i suppose whatever sum they get from the online will fuel what interest me: a numbered title.

  • Erwin MadJelly

    DOA x Tekken. In Tekken Graphics will look interesting enough!!

  • Tom_Phoenix

    Hayashi: “Thank you for the lovely conversation! Em….one thing, though. Why are you wearing sunglasses indoors?”
    Harada: “I refuse to take them off because I’m an American….and Americans always wear sunglasses!…….Wait…..”

  • ajneez

    DEAD OR ALIVE it´s better game than tekken, but i love to see a crossover between them!!!!!

  • Christian-Lauren Jocson

    Both games rock!! Would be awesome to see a crossover game ;)

  • fairysun

    Dang, imagine how many costume DLC they can sell ?
    Make a free crossover game and get the profit from costume DLC.
    All fans are dying to see Christie VS Christie in venus swimsuit mode.

    At least I know, I am.

  • Lucky Dan

    Please don’t its stupid enough they make us pay the costumes which cost 4 times as much as the game itself (if you grab all the costumes) having it free to play like Tekken Revolution and Soul Calibur online is even worse.

    Paying a $5.99 minimum for each character unlock pisses me off and this is coming from both Sony and Microsoft System(Killer instinct) uses this model. I think they are trying to kill off the Fighting System market or get away with Micro transactions so they can get away doing a sub par game.

    Don’t even think it’s even remotely a good idea guys instead of earning credits like a MOBA which at least League of Legends allow to unlock extra characters it’s actually restricted to monetary transactions which you must do for the characters first (having 17 characters with 4-5 free = 60 bucks already avoid the deprecation of games) + having to pay 2-3 bucks for each costume = a fortune for these son of a bitches companies. It’s even worst than Sony and Microsoft ideals.

    don’t support it.

    • Tee Niitris

      But you don’t have to buy outfits. :(

      I could understand being bothered by Tekken Revolution (since your play time is limited and it resembles social games with no alternative).

      I didn’t like DoA5 that much (stopped playing it after a month or so). I would’ve never bothered with Ultimate if it wasn’t for the F2P version. And since I enjoyed it more than I thought, I eventually got the full version. Besides, there’s an option to get retail or F2P, so you could just ignore the F2P part. F2P was the best thing that could happen to DoA; way more people gave it a chance than they would have without it, and even a good number of tournament viewers are starting to see that it is indeed a good fighter that can be fun to watch (moreso than Tekken oddly enough).

      KI’s model is like DoA5U (which is good), but since Mircosoft is handling it, I’m not confident in how that will end.

      When done right, F2P is great for games (fighters especially) and is worth supporting.

      • Lucky Dan

        Ah you missed the point, Tekken Revolution is charging $5-20 BUCKS FOR EACH EXTRA CHARACTER and their are 17 minimum.

  • Demeanor

    After playing a lot of Tekken (TTT2 and Revo) I finally started to get around to DoA, and I was utterly blown away at how rich the combat system is: I understand many bash the game or are quick to pass judgement on it because of dem sexy ladies, but honestly, anyone would realize how good it is after reading a wiki, I’m not an expert on fighting games but it seems to me far more complex than Tekken.
    I love how DoA moves are closer to real martial arts than Tekken, and have a more realistic visual look/effects, and I love how the faster pace of strikes makes ordinary defense harder to maintain, not to mention the evil mechanics of holds. I love how a strike is invulnerable to throws even during startup, getting a counter hit to boot, and how some holds are disguised as throws and can punish strikes hard. I feel there’s a lot more room to mix and match bits of moves together into original combos thanks to the critical stun feature and its long hitstun. Trying to learn to use Pai atm and oh boy, this’ll take some time XD

  • Göran Isacson

    Holy heck, Harada makes his bosses sound super-evil there. Like, a game in two months? What did they need a game that quickly for? Or ARE they just tryign to overwork Harada to death so they don’t have to bother with his sass anymore? That would make me said, especially as this interview is so full of delicious, delicious Harada-sass.

    And about that “nobody will know what’s going on anymore” reply to a cross-over, the answer is simple. Crossover ALL the beat-em-ups.


  • Yan Zhao

    I agree with Ono. When the hell is TxSF coming out!

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