Brutal Democracy: The Fighting Game Community Will Move Past This Too
Following yet another betrayal, the fighting game community will simply pick itself up and get on with it
The esports industry is absolutely massive! Estimates speculate that it will overtake traditional sports in the nearest future and the amount of money to be found in the industry is truly incredible. That said, the fighting game community has always acted somewhat in the fringes of this mammoth operation.
This is due to many factors, one of which is the relative unpopularity of fighting games compared to some of their other counterparts. For instance, the recently concluded WePlay Dragon Temple had about 10,000 peak viewers, which is pretty decent for a first competition, while the CPT North America West 2 had about 23,000 peak viewers. This is dwarfed by the EPIC League Season 2 Division 1 (Dota 2), which brought in over 200,000 viewers at its peak. These are huge numbers and show the difference between fighting games and other esport titles. Similarly, the prize pools for the bigger titles are way more significant than those for fighting games, with the League of Legends Worlds 2019 putting up a prize pool of about $2.2 million, which is a chasm away from the prize pools for fighting games.
The point I'm trying to make is that fighting game pros and organizations make significantly less money and have a lot less prestige than their counterparts. This has led to several opportunists, with the latest being Brutal Democracy.
A Pyramid scheme
Brutal Democracy burst onto the scene in 2019 and was something of the golden child of the fighting game community. They came with promises of elevating the status of fighting games and representing everything that the community stands for. To really stamp their 'authority' they went about snapping up the signatures of quite a few prominent people in the community. Soon it became harder to find someone who wasn't involved in Brutal Democracy.
The organization advertised itself as "More than just a competitive esports organization" and something of a community of competitors and streamers. This was the story sold to a fighting game community desperate for validation. Brutal Democracy always tried to chuck themselves in the middle of sensitive issues, taking a stand for the little guy. Things started to unravel when @TokiMekiEmily, a well-known cosplayer, and advocate revealed her truth, where she exposed several broken promises and some disturbing behavior from Brutal Democracy. This was followed by a deluge of whistle-blowers, all of whom had experienced some pretty shady situations with the organization.
It turns out that some people were paying the organization to be a part of them, and just like a good pyramid scheme, they were encouraged to bring more people to join the club. It seems they weren't really doing anything notable for the fighting game community and were instead just around to use the fanbase's passion for their own ends.
A mass exodus followed as many of the people involved in the organization jumped ship and walked away, citing their inability to live with the things the organization had done. It was also revealed that the more popular personalities signed to BDG were treated fairly, but it seems that this was to keep the facade intact as more popular entities have louder voices and are more likely to be believed if they speak out.
Soon, BDG went off Twitter, and if you search for them, you get this.
The same is true of their Instagram and YouTube as there is nothing there. Their website still works just fine, though, and I wonder how long that will last.
Why the fighting game community?
It's safe to say that the fighting game community has been hit with its fair share of problems, but it does seem something of an easy target for unscrupulous individuals and organizations. This is partly due to what I talked about earlier and the discrepancy between larger titles and fighting games. The fighting game community is pretty niche when all is said and done, and more often than not, pro players cannot live a life based solely on their winnings from competitions.
Therefore, it is not uncommon for community members to jump at the chance to significantly improve their conditions when they get the opportunity, which has led to a couple of unfortunate incidents.
This has also led to a healthy dose of skepticism whenever a new organization wants to enter the scene. The scars of the past linger on the FGC and have made trust a pretty scarce commodity, and the kerfuffle with Brutal Democracy has only made things worse. So, when an honest organization comes into the scene with the hopes of building something in the fighting game community, they can expect a lot of resistance.
While the issues with Brutal Democracy and other shady organizations aren't great for the fighting game community, it certainly doesn't take away from all the great things happening in the scene at the moment. While the FGC is smaller than many of the other genres of esports, it is unique. The passion of the community is unmatched, and the flair of the talent and players cannot be questioned. Also, the vibe and feeling of community that many attribute to the FGC is something you will not find anywhere else. While the prize pools aren't humongous, they are getting better. For instance, Capcom cup 2020 has a prize pool of $200,000 while the Street Fighter League promises the winning team $150,000. The recently concluded WePlay Dragon Temple event had a prize pot of $60,000 and was also lauded for treating the players really well. Other companies, including NetherRealm Studios, are creating more tournaments for fighting games and representing the community a lot better.
Not only are there more tournaments and more money, but the fighting game community has also seen a rise in the use of their talents (analysts, commentators, etc.) in tournaments, which was something of a sore spot before. Now, several tournaments are esports oriented but have the hyper-competitive feel and unfiltered nature of local fighting game tournaments.
The fighting game community will be okay, and with more allies coming into the space, along with the retention of local tournaments, I daresay that the future of fighting games is quite bright indeed.