Will Jump Force join the Fighting Game esports ranks?

In the esports world, fighting games aren’t quite as high profile as other titles like MOBAs or even FPS games. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of fans of the genre – as a matter of fact there are even huge dedicated tournaments to fighting games, such as the EVO Japan that just took place in Fukuoka.

The latest potential addition to the proverbial playing field of esports, is, of course, Jump Force, the newly released Bandai Namco battler. Various popular heroes and characters from manga and anime series are fighting for the fate of all of humanity. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the popular manga series magazine Weekly Jump, Jump Force is dedicated to bringing these heroes to life.

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© BANDAI NAMCO

Franchises include Naruto, Dragon Ball, Once Piece and more – in other words, some of the most popular manga/anime characters in the whole world are making appearances in the game. These characters are getting a bit of a visual upgrade – the game features semi-realistic graphics rather than the typical anime/manga look.

The game received somewhat mixed reviews because despite its incredibly fan-appeal and solid mechanics, it’s not without its issues – particularly animations and facial expressions leave something to be desired. Despite this though, the game is already in consideration for becoming an esport – between Bandai Namco as a publisher and the appeal of different manga franchises, it’s really no surprise that people are calling for this within days of its release.

Since another manga-themed fighting game – Dragon Ball FighterZ is doing quite well when it comes to esports, fans are convinced Jump Force will too. Generally speaking, manga/anime-themed games aren’t as popular as some other titles are in the fighting game community (Tekken, for example) however they usually have very dedicated fan-bases, and this seems likely the case here as well – despite the fact that Jump Force isn’t necessarily built specifically to be an esport. While games like Overwatch and Dota are built solely around pre-defined matches, Jump Force definitely features a single-player story mode as well.

This makes the game similar to My Hero Academia, another manga/anime-based fighter that was recently released and also favours story-modes and character development over a competitive appeal. This brings with it another issue – toxicity in the community. While all multiplayer games feature this to some degree, esports titles tend to suffer from it more than some others. A deliberate step away from that and towards an experience that can be enjoyed even in solo-play could help mitigate what can otherwise become a big issue in games.

Whether or not developer Bandai Namco later takes steps to push the game as an esport remains to be seen – for the moment it seems like the driving force behind the potential esport Jump Force are the fans of the game, rather than the creators. Naturally it’s up to them in the end, but as far as the fan community is concerned, there certainly seems to be a spot for Jump Force in the fighting games esports world.