Killer Instinct is a phenomenal, albeit overlooked fighting game from Iron Galaxy, Double Helix, and Microsoft. The game recently hit Xbox Game Pass for consoles and PC, giving users access to the full cadre of its unique and formidable fighters. Up until now, the game has been available as a free-to-play style game for Xbox and PC, with a rotating pool of free characters.
For whatever reason, Killer Instinct failed to resonate with the hardest core of fighting game fans, failing to achieve widespread interest from major esports tournaments and streaming platforms alike. Killer Instinct arguably has some of the best netcode in the business, with a balanced array of unique and eclectic fighters from the classic 90s version, along with some guest stars from other Microsoft franchises and all-new combatants, such as Hisako.
Last night, lovable KI community leader Maximilian Dood kickstarted a wave of outpouring from fans, asking Microsoft to #BringBackKI for next-gen systems. The hashtag actually managed to break worldwide trending lists on Twitter, giving us a glimpse at the passion fans have for this franchise.
We've heard for some time that Microsoft was at least exploring ways to create a new Killer Instinct. The fact the community feeds for the game are still active says to me that Microsoft still considers it a core franchise, and may simply be waiting for the right developer, or the right time to bring it back.
Killer Instinct had a tough battle among fighting game fans, especially at the high-end level. Games like Smash Bros, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat tend to get the lion's share of attention, and probably for good reason. They're all incredible titles with vast legacy fanbases, and budgets to match. Mortal Kombat has some of the best production values for its story content in the genre, while Smash Bros' uniquely accessible celebration of the entirety of gaming culture continues to put it in the top spot.
Killer Instinct remains a cult hit. Microsoft acquired the IP when it bought Rare in the early 2000s, but it wasn't until 2013 that the franchise re-emerged, built by Double Helix, and later Iron Galaxy. The game received continuous updates, new modes, new characters, and piles of cosmetics, eventually boasting 10 million players.
I heard that Killer Instinct has been successful for Microsoft, but perhaps not at the level they wanted it to be. With criticism (and financial investment in) Microsoft's game portfolio at an all-time high, Killer Instinct strikes me as a prime candidate for franchise renewal, especially given Microsoft's focus on multiplayer, service-type games.
Either way, it sounds like Microsoft has heard the message loud and clear judging by the franchise's Twitter account, but it remains to be seen whether or not fans will get what they want, and in my opinion, deserve. It's time to #BringBackKI.
A cult hit
Killer Instinct is a combo-heavy fighting game from Microsoft. The game features an awesome cast of wild combatants, including some guest stars from Microsoft franchises. The game is free-to-play, but you can grab it with a full roster of characters in Xbox Game Pass or on disc from Amazon.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!