Mortal Kombat…

was a video game that came out when I was a kid. Today, they are still making Mortal Kombat games. Starting from 1992, they released a number of games and just recently there was an announcement that their latest game which was released last year reach 8,000,000 sales at $50 a piece, that’s a lot of revenue. Unbelievable really, and that doesn’t even count licensing, merchandising, books, etc.

There are many fighting games out there, many with similar controls and gameplay to Mortal Kombat, so what made them such an amazing franchise, while others faded to obscurity?


Mortal Kombat was gruesome. As the fights happened it showed blood flying which was new for the video game medium. There were debates on TV about whether the game was suitable for children. They introduced “Finish Him!” and the performance of “Fatalities” after beating a character. This was how word of mouth about the franchise spread. Those other fighting games were also good, but they didn’t have that shock factor, and with adults wondering about suitability for the children of the ’90s, word was spreading through both children and adults.

The second thing was also back stories and and world building. Mortal Kombat started creating stories for their characters. Some of them were rivals. Some were police. Some were criminals. The original boss was a sorcerer. As the series went on, an entire world of myths, gods, different worlds and a huge amount of characters and their motivations was introduced. There was more to the game then fighting. The fighting was just the game mechanics, there was actually a story. This part likely didn’t increase the word of mouth as much, but it hooked people in more. It created bigger fans. People who wanted the newer releases to continue the story and learning about the Mortal Kombat world.

These two things different from other fighting games that focused more effort on character design, fighting mechanics, etc. These two things taken together built an empire that has sold billions of dollars. They did it with originality.