Is power creep a major problem in Tekken 7?

Jul 22 2020 4 min read
Bandai Namco

Is power creep a major problem in Tekken 7? Are characters like Leroy and Fahkumram ruining the game?

Power creep is nothing new to video games. It's the easiest way for developers to get players to purchase new content and has become a common occurrence in mobile games. 

For those that don't know, power creep is when powerful new content like characters, abilities, and equipment is added to a game while the older content is left underpowered. Games that strongly rely on this practice are called pay-to-win because it's the players with the money to continually buy new content that come out on top in competitive play. Better known as whales, these players are always fully equipped with the best weapons, characters, and items, making it impossible for those with a meager budget or no budget at all to win. 

For fighting games where skill and the thrill of the fight is its main selling point, it would be hard to build a real community behind a game that indulges in such practices. Bandai Namco faced a lot of criticism after the release of Leroy Smith in its third season pass because of how broken he appeared to be. 

The character joined the roster on December 10 and immediately began to dominate the ladder. At first, it seemed like players just hadn't discovered his weaknesses, but gradually, more and more players complained that Leroy was overpowered. Bandai Namco was mostly unresponsive to these complaints, considering they were being made regularly. Fans expected the Wing Chun fighter to get nerfed, but nothing happened until EVO Japan 2020

The Top 8 bracket of the prestigious event's Tekken 7 tournament was filled with Leroy players. It wasn't just the final bracket, though, as Leroy mains dominated the competition leading up to the Top 8. Only Ryoto "Mikio" Ikeda, who finished in second place, didn't use Leroy in the last leg of the tournament. Shortly after the event, Bandai Namco released a patch that nerfed the character, but it wasn't enough. Leroy had to receive further adjustments before he became a reasonably powered character. 

Now, a couple of months later, it seems that the Pakistani FGC has declared the last official character in season pass three to be even worse than Leroy. In a recent tweet, EVO 2019 champion Arslan "Arslan Ash" Siddique stated that Fahkumram had been banned in most Pakistani tournaments because of how overpowered he is. 

"This is what I have been saying for a long time. Even Soo-hoon "Ulsan" Lim admitted this as well. 'The only way to beat Fahkumram is to pick Fahkumram," stated Arslan Ash.

His comment was sparked by a video of legendary Tekken player, Jae-Min "Knee" Bae, winning a recent event using the Muay Thai fighter. Knee faced Ulsan in the AfreecaTV Tekken League Season 1 Final a few days ago, with his opponent also using Fahkumram. Knee agreed with Arslan Ash about how strong Fahkumram is but was quick to point out that other characters have also been just as strong, like Akuma and Kazumi, during Season 2.

Why is power creep a problem? Because making overpowered characters means that unless you don't want to win, you'll need to make use of said characters. This removes any form of personal preference and, eventually, fun, from experience. Just ask retired Tekken player Stephen "Speedkicks" Stafford, who announced his departure from the scene after revealing that his love for the game died a long time ago. 

No matter the fighting game, some characters will always be better than others. However, to create characters with an overwhelming advantage means that even pro players may find it hard facing average characters that use these characters if it isn't a mirror match. Ultimately, all the pros will begin making the switch to this character, leading to very little variety in tournament picks, which would most likely make the game dull and uninteresting for fans and the audience.

Tekken 7's third season pass has had a polarizing effect on the community, but for now, it seems only the Pakistani FGC has outright banned Fahkumram. Bandai Namco seems focused on a reveal that keeps getting pushed due to the absence of a big platform to share the news. So, a nerf for the Muay Thai fighter may not even be on the table just yet. 

So does Tekken 7 have a power creep problem? Maybe, but if it's not so bad as to cause an uproar, then it might not be such a big problem after all.


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