There’s no denying that when Arcsys and Bandai Namco’s Dragon Ball FighterZ first arrived on the scene, it was destined to become a fan favorite. With multiple events holding tournaments for the game, including perhaps the grandest stage of them all, the Evolution Championship Series or EVO as it’s affectionately called. However, something has gone afoul as of recent and it’s really causing a huge fuss amongst the fighting game community that has embraced the game. And it’s starting to look like the holder of the Dragon Ball series, Toei Animation, is to blame.
Fans first noticed that the title was mysteriously absent from the past DreakHack Atlanta event that was held during November 2019. It just was removed with no prior warning, leaving many who had planned on attending for the game high and dry. This especially upset those who had paid for their hotel and travel fare for the event in advance.
I regret to inform those registered for DBFZ at #DHATL18 in a few weeks that we will no longer be able to host a tournament for it. Please see my statement below that I have emailed out to those signed up through https://t.co/doletRas1E already. pic.twitter.com/zPn98HT0lB
— Jebailey 🛫 DreamHack India 🇮🇳 (@CEOJebailey) November 3, 2018
The removal of the game was seen as odd, as Dragon Ball FighterZ not only is one the more popular fighting games. It also pulls in a large number of spectators, as well as crowds. It’s also the best replacement for the now floundering Marvel Versus series, thanks to Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite just panning out to be what the FGC wanted. Most were upset over this, many left it alone, while there was rumbling that perhaps there was an issue with the rights of the game. Which left some pointing the finger towards Toei Animation.
That should have been the first sign.
Then it happened again. This time it was noticed that the title was absent from the main line-up for the upcoming Evo Japan 2019 championship event that will take place in Fukuoka, Japan from February 15 – 17, 2019. Again, this was odd as Dragon Ball FighterZ pulled huge numbers during EVO 2018. In fact, it managed to surpass all other titles that were placed on the main stage, including the resurgent Street Fighter V: Arcade Editon. In total the game managed to attract 2,575 registered entrants.
Evo 2018 Numbers – #Evo2018
1) DragonBall FighterZ – 2575
2) Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition – 2484
3) Tekken 7 – 1538
4) Super Smash Bros. for WiiU – 1354
5) Super Smash Bros. Melee – 1351
6) BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle – 1178
7) Guilty Gear Xrd: Rev 2 – 629
8) Injustice 2 – 363
— Joey Cuellar (@MrWiz) July 21, 2018
So why would a game that did as well as Dragon Ball FighterZ did, not make an appearance at yet another EVO event? That’s a good question and one that everyone seems to be asking. Yet another sign that something was going on or merely coincide?
Now today, yet another revelation was made known. A popular anime fighting game tournament called Anime Ascension, which is also set to take place next year, had announced that title would also not be in the line-up. That’s three upcoming tournaments that Dragon Ball FighterZ would not make an appearance in.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, Dragonball FighterZ will no longer be run at Anime Ascension. We’re sorry for the inconvenience/disappointment! Please stay tuned for future announcements. pic.twitter.com/lLsUxQKicx
— Aksys Games (@aksysgames) December 21, 2018
Surely, there’s definitely something going on. Multiple names in the FGC suddenly starting looking into what could be going on.
Good luck to all the DBFZ heads out there, cause those rights holders are coming for yours
— Regular UltraDavid (@ultradavid) December 21, 2018
Dbfz being shut down by toei for the 2nd time is bullshit and toxic for the community. The FGC was not built on this and something needs to change.
— Yohosie @ FrostyFaustings (@yohosiefgc) December 21, 2018
Including prominent Esports reporter and insider, Rod Breslau (@Slasher). He stated that thanks to a few of his sources, it looks like Dragon Ball FighterZ and another fan favorite, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (which also is missing from EVO Japn 2019) are being held back by their respective rights holders. For Dragon Ball FighterZ, parent company Toei Animation is causing these disruptions, for reasons we currently don’t know.
EVO Japan games have been announced with the striking absence of Smash Ultimate and Dragon Ball FighterZ.
According to my sources and cryptic tweets, the rights holders for both games told EVO they could not be used. Nintendo of Japan for Smash, and Namco Bandai/Toei for DBFZ.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) December 14, 2018
However, if this due to the rights holders, then fans of the game have a reason to be concerned. Why? In a nutshell, they have the power to effectively bury the game, if they so choose to. But why do this to a game that not only provides gamers will hours of entertainment, as well as some of the best on-screen battles we’ve seen? Well, in the end, it could simply be about money. Of course this is speculation on my part, however, if Toei is getting involved it could be that whatever monies they received for the initial rights to Arcsys to develop was for a limited window. Since they do own the rights, they can do whatever they want, including dictating which events can headline the game – which is what they’re doing right now. It’s a frustrating time for fans of the game as they’re seeing it being held hostage, with the potential of seeing a game they’ve played, killed off for no reason.
It also could be due to Toei Animation being extremely protective of the Dragon Ball franchise rights. This is a gold mine and you can better believe they’ll do whatever to protect it and to make sure they profit from it.
It’s the sort of narrow-minded decisions that makes you wonder if those in charge really know what’s going on. Or as to what is at stake. Here you have perhaps the most popular fighting game in quite some time and you’re acting like a child with no transparency as to why. I think fighting game commentator Ultra David sums up best as to what is going on right now.
This is how lawyers do math
ArcSys + (other major ights holder)×0 = Evo Japan ok!
Bandai + (other major rights holder)×0 = Evo Japan ok!
Bandai + (other major rights holder)×1 = Evo Japan not ok
Bandai + ArcSys + (other major rights holder)×1 = Evo Japan not ok
— Regular UltraDavid (@ultradavid) December 14, 2018
So why can’t these events just host the game and ignore orders or warnings to not include the game/s into their line-ups? Well, legal reasons. Failing to follow what could be seen as a cease and desist order, anyone found guilty would open themselves up to a lawsuit; lawyers and litigation. Nasty stuff that no one wants to be involved.
So what can be done or what needs to happen next? For starters, I feel that Bandai Namco and Arcsys need to contact the powers that be over at Toei and try to sort this out. You see, this is more than a Japanese event issue, as the title was also pulled from two North American events; Dream Hack Atlanta and Anime Ascension. Two events in a country where Funimation has the rights to the Dragon Ball series. Meaning there’s something else going on, something that we’ll keep digging to found out more information.
As of now, the current state of the game remains a mystery.
That all said, it’s ironic that DBFZ is a game that stole all of Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite‘s thunder and now if things don’t get sorted, it could be the same game that many might flock back to.
** We’ll update this story as it develops **