Street Fighter 6’s Sales Reignite the Street Fighter vs. Mortal Kombat Rivalry

Street Fighter 6's sales might just be enough to rekindle one of gaming's greatest spiritual rivalries.

Street Fighter 6
Photo: Capcom

Street Fighter 6 has only been available for five days, but it’s clear that the game is on its way to becoming a critical and commercial success. In fact, Street Fighter 6 seems poised to reignite gaming’s most famous fighting game rivalry: Street Fighter 6 vs. Mortal Kombat.

Street Fighter 6 officially debuted at number two on the U.K. physical sales charts during its first weekend. While it was bested by the sales juggernaut that is The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, its initial position is quite strong. While Street Fighter 5 also debuted at number two on the same charts, it lost the number one spot to Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 in that game’s 11th week of release. That was an early sign that Street Fighter 5‘s initial sales were going to fall below expectations. By comparison, Street Fighter 6 debuted at the same spot against stronger, more recent competition. Besides, those numbers just represent physical sales in a single region.

Street Fighter 6‘s digital success is much more interesting. While we’re waiting on official, global digital sales numbers at this time, we do know that Street Fighter 6 reached a peak concurrent Steam player count of 70,573 users over the weekend. That smashes Dragon Ball FighterZ‘s old fighting game record for the most concurrent Steam users (44,303). For additional context, Mortal Kombat 11‘s highest concurrent player count on Steam topped out at 35,147 users.

That last figure brings us to Street Fighter‘s most important sales number. Capcom recently confirmed that the Street Fighter franchise has surpassed 50 million lifetime sales since Street Fighter 6‘s launch. It was previously suspected that the franchise’s sales numbers were hovering around 49 million earlier this year. If that number is accurate, then that likely means that Street Fighter 6 has sold around 1 million units across all platforms so far.

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50 million is the most important sales figure at the moment, though. For as impressive as that number is, it is still well behind Mortal Kombat‘s 80+ million lifetime sales. It’s also short of Tekken‘s 54+ million lifetime sales, and Super Smash Bros. 72+ million lifetime sales, but those comparisons aren’t brought up quite as often. After all, since the early ’90s, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat have been widely seen as the fighting game franchises in the minds of many. Both represented wildly different styles of fighting game design, yet both quickly achieved mainstream popularity. Both were even the subjects of underrated ’90s live-action film adaptations.

Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter also started off on relatively equal sales footing, but the gap obviously widened from there. Mortal Kombat‘s lead can partially be attributed to the fact that we’ve gotten more numbered, mainline releases in that franchise over the years, but it’s about more than that. Mortal Kombat‘s violence, style, accessibility, and, in recent years, surprisingly strong single-player narratives have elevated it to another level. By comparison, Street Fighter has long been seen as the more “hardcore” franchise that has long catered to competitive fighting game fans. That reputation isn’t entirely inaccurate.

That’s a big part of the reason why Street Fighter 6 (and its early success) is so interesting. As we previously discussed, Street Fighter 6 is clearly intended to be a more approachable game than some of its recent predecessors. It offers more accessible control options, it’s incredibly stylish, and it finally features an extensive single-player mode that is more than just a series of loosely connected tournament mode fights. Those are all elements that have helped to bolster Mortal Kombat’s sales numbers over the years but keep in mind that Street Fighter 6 isn’t just copying MK‘s techniques. It’s utilizing similar broader ideas, but it’s doing everything in its own way.

The debate between Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter from a quality perspective has remained valid for over 30 years. However, it’s been a long time since the two franchises have properly competed from a pure sales perspective. Street Fighter 6’s early success suggests that may no longer be the case.

Street Fighter 6 and Mortal Kombat 1 are both releasing in 2023, and there’s now a legitimate debate to be had over which game will ultimately sell more copies. That’s not only good news for those who hold the Street Fighter vs. Mortal Kombat rivalry close in their nostalgic hearts, but it’s great news for fans of the fighting game genre. Once again, two of the most popular names in that genre are performing at a high level, selling incredibly well, and offering two very different experiences in the process.