Tekken 7 releases globally for PC, PS4 and Xbox One this weekend, but from its reputation, you’d think it has been out for some time. Bandai Namco has spent a year cultivating a dedicated fan base through esports competitions and strategic partnerships—building awareness and hype ahead of the game’s debut.
Released for Japanese arcades in 2015, Tekken 7 had already gained a reputation overseas but the team at Bandai Namco had to find a way to bring stateside awareness. The answer was simple—let people play it. The publisher created the esports tournament King of Iron Fist, named after Tekken‘s in-game event that is pivotal to the story line.
Proving Grounds Preview
Bandai Namco took King of Iron Fist to 16 different US cities. In addition to Wizard World conventions, the game was also featured at bigger indie tournaments like Combo Breaker, Final Round, Evo and the Soul Calibur Regionals across North America. It was free for anyone to enter, and there was a $3,000 prize pool at each location.
“We’re just getting our feet wet in esports,” Mark Religioso, brand manager for Tekken 7 at Bandai Namco told AListDaily. “Our goal was to meet the right people and right partners for the post-launch esports activation. We’re looking at what other publishers are doing and seeing what fans like and don’t like about tours and applying that to .”
Road To King Of Iron Fist, a documentary about the tournament premiered on Twitch on May 15, delving deeper into the origins, players and emotional roller coaster associated with an undertaking this size.
— TEKKEN 7 (@TEKKEN) May 15, 2017
The competition is far from over, as Twitch and Bandai Namco have formed an exclusive partnership to create the Tekken World Tour—a six-month season with a total prize pool of over $200,000. As with King of Iron Fist, hometown tournaments remain at the heart of Tekken‘s game plan.
“With the Tekken World Tour, we are able to provide a concrete structure to the grassroots tournament scene—and a clear path for players to aspire to,” Twitch program manager Richard Thiher told AListDaily. “This will only help invigorate the existing Tekken community to train harder, as well as inspire new fans to join the scene.”
Mixing It Up
Tekken 7 pits father-against-son so the tagline is “The Best Fights Are Personal.” Bandai Namco teamed up with platinum-selling hip hop artist Kid Ink to write an original song for the game—an offer he eagerly agreed to, being a long-time fan.
In addition to the song and behind the scenes video, Kid Ink created his own Tekken 7 playlist on Spotify.
Friends In The Fight
WWE champion Alexa Bliss joined the team at Wizard World, where fans could try the game and enter for a chance to win a copy of their own. The wrestling partnership mirrors a similar theme earlier this year when Bandai Namco teamed up with Pro Wrestling Japan—adding costumes and moves for a crossover promotion.
— Mark Julio (マークマン) (@MarkMan23) May 28, 2017
Tekken 7 costumes are now available for purchase in Little Big Planet 3. Fans can dress Sack Boy or Sack Girl as Asuka Kazama, King, Jack-7, Alisa Bosconovitch, Yoshimitsu or Devil Jin.
New Game, End Of An Era
Tekken 7 represents the final chapter of the 20-year-long Mishima feud story line. Since the first game in 1994, Tekken has been about the conflict between various generations of the Mishima clan that usually ended badly—like being thrown off a cliff. To help players get up to speed on Kazuya and the Mishima conflict thus far, Bandai Namco released an 8-bit animated recap video.
The entire Tekken story has focused on revenge, so an end to the Mishima clan saga could open up the series to new themes. For now, though, fans can don their limited edition Tekken 7 sukajan jackets and get ready for battle.