Video games have progressed significantly since the days of 8-bit machines, but one genre has truly stood the test of time; the Beat ‘Em Up.
It’s a genre that has its roots in the arcades of the eighties, not least with Street Fighter. Groups of people would gather around the Capcom arcade cabinets to watch two people doing combat, wishing they could have the same experience in their own homes. In the early nineties, they did, as Street Fighter II hit consoles.
Since then, there’s been a steady stream of Beat ‘Em Ups featuring fictional characters, crossover characters such as superheroes, and even Mario and his associated imagery. Generally, games have got bigger, more complex and involved, yet the humble Beat ‘Em Up has retained much of its original charm. Street Fighter is still around; Gaming Bolt reveal the latest title, Street Fighter V, has sold six million copies.
Of course, gaming has evolved, and people no longer have to go to an arcade armed with coins to compete. The world of eSports is a lucrative business, with some tournaments having massive prize funds. A Bwin Sports piece on eSports shows that the prize fund for Dota 2 was $40m in 2021, and it’s not alone in offering millions to successful players. Back in the day of the arcade, being a Street Fighter wizard meant only kudos from friends and a bit of local fame; could it now mean a lifestyle of riches?
Perhaps, because there are many eSports tournaments based around your favorite Beat ‘Em Ups. If you are a veteran of the arcades, or a scholar of Beat ‘Em Ups, then the world of eSports has opportunities for you, as we explore below.
Tekken came from developers Namco back in 1994 and achieved success on the back of the Street Fighter series. It was very much the game of choice for PlayStation users, with Street Fighter reserved for Nintendo. Fear not; if you knew your way around Kazuya Mishima and Yoshimitsu, there’s hope for you in the eSports arena. There’s a thriving Tekken eSports scene, and whilst there are no $40m prize funds, you could earn a decent living if you were good at the game.
Mortal Kombat came before Tekken and featured groundbreaking graphics and gore when it was first released. It has since spawned more than 20 games and is still going strong on modern day machines. There’s even been films and other digital media based on the characters and plots. There’s no surprise that it’s a thriving eSport either; Mortal Kombat 11 is where the action is, supported by the Mortal Kombat Pro Series esports initiative.
We’ve saved the best until last; if you grew up pitting the likes of Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li against each other, then you’re in luck; there’s an eSports scene all around the grandfather of Beat ‘Em Ups. Over the years, there haven’t been as many games as Mortal Kombat, but there have been films, cartons, and other digital media. The Capcom Pro Tour is where the eSports element comes in; it’s a series with a cash pool that tops $600,000 and is often broadcast on Disney XD, ESPN 2, and TBS.
If it isn’t just eSports that piques your interest but general gaming, you should check out our article on the most popular games this year.