New York City, NY – Recently many fighting game economists at The Arc University published reports and studies showing that the middle tier is shrinking at an alarming rate. According to these studies, the middle tier has declined substantially across several different games in the past 10 years. Many are worried that fighting games could be in for some real trouble if the tier lists continue to shift this way.
Just a decade ago approximately 60% of characters were considered to be mid tier. Today that number has shrunk to only 45%. Even more worrying is that the majority of these formerly mid tier characters have been pushed into the lower tiers, and as a result have to work twice as hard just to win enough rounds to make ends meet.
As the middle tier continues to decline, upper tier characters have received an increasingly higher portion of the economy’s damage, range, and plus frames. It wasn’t long ago that the highest tiers were rated with an “A” tier or in some cases “S” tier. But recent tier lists have had to invent the new “SS”, “SSS” or even “SSS+” tiers as the economy’s resources have become more imbalanced.
In addition to this, many characters in the top tier have so much of the economy’s resources that a “glass floor” effect has been observed. Many reports cite Bardock from Dragon Ball FighterZ as the prime example of this, as he is nerfed seemingly every patch and still has enough resources to remain in the top tier.
Meanwhile the opposite is happening on the other end of the tier list. Economists noted a decline in upward mobility among the lower tiers, which have become increasingly harder to rise out of. Many characters in the low tier have severely limited access to damage, speed, and mix-ups. Often these lower tier characters are given an insignificant buff in just one of these areas and then ignored completely, despite still having a dysfunctional overall move set.
Many economists argue that part of the decline is due to “trickle down” balance patching. The idea was that by giving even more resources to the top tier characters, those advantages would eventually reach and benefit the characters in the lowest tier. But surprisingly this has had the opposite effect, and buffing the top tier characters has only made them even stronger.
So instead, economists are now calling for heavy nerfs on the top tiers, in addition to significant buffs for the low tiers. Only this way can we restore the middle tier to its former glory, and finally have any chance at making Krillin playable.