How Neco Arc saved a dying game through the power of memes

Carver Fisher
neco arc saves game with memes

Melty Blood isn’t the most popular fighting game out there, but meme character Neco Arc has brought so much attention to the game that she’s almost single-handedly revived its dying playerbase.

It’s an exciting time to be in the FGC.

With Tekken 8 getting teased, Street Fighter 6 right around the corner, and games like King of Fighters VI, Skullgirls, and Dragon Ball FighterZ getting continuous support from their communities, there’s a fighting game out there for everyone.

That said, not every fighting game can succeed. Titles like UNiST (Under Night in Birth), DNF Duel, Samurai Showdown, and many other fighting games with a ton of time and money poured into them have fallen off.

With how much of a time investment is required to learn fighting games, having a dead community will very quickly seal the fate of a fighting game.

The perfect storm

There’s no foolproof way to revive a fighting game once it’s fallen out of public favor, and seeing a resurgence in old titles is incredibly rare.

However, Melty Blood: Type Lumina has seen a dramatic player base increase that mostly can be attributed to the release of one character: Neco Arc

This meme of a character has taken the fighting game community by storm. But how can a single fighter save an entire fighting game?

While there’s more to the story than that, Neco Arc’s power should not be underestimated. If she’s a meme character, then Melty Blood: Type Lumina developers French Bread committed to making that meme as high quality as possible.

For example, Neco Arc has a move that covers the health bars and super meters for both players, and gives her a Vtuber model on-screen.

Neco Arc’s 4th wall breaks and meta jokes come through her well-crafted yet completely ridiculous moveset to make a character that’s not only fun to watch, but fun to play.

Her release came right after Melty Blood: Type Lumina was put in front of more eyes than ever at EVO 2022. When Melty Blood’s top 8 were on the main EVO stream, it hit peak viewership of over 51K with an average concurrent viewership of over 30k.

Now, this certainly wasn’t anything near Street Figher V’s peak of 150k, but it’s still a huge milestone for a relatively small fighting game and shows that there’s interest in the title.

The history behind the Melty Blood series is a bit long and convoluted, but Neco Arc as a character has been around for over 20 years.

Neco Arc is a parody version of Arcueid Brunestud, another character from the Melty Blood series. She made her first appearance in 2000 as a joke in the Tsukihime visual novel to which the Melty Blood series is a spinoff.

Neco Arc has been in a few Melty Blood fighting games herself, and her moveset in Type Lumina is just as ridiculous as ever. But it also maintains the high skill ceiling Melty Blood is known for.

Melty Blood’s dedicated community has kept Neco Arc alive, and her simple yet distinct character design makes this lovable gremlin stand out in a very saturated fighting game market.

This character has gone from an off-hand joke in an obscure Japanese visual novel to an over-the-top mainstay that has managed to keep Melty Blood alive as a series.

Come for Neco Arc, stay for a better Melty Blood

Does that mean she’s the only character worth playing in Melty Blood? Far from it. But the absolute insanity of Neco Arc’s moveset acts is a great reason for new players to try Melty Blood, and she’s a reason for old fans to return.

And, on top of that, Melty Blood developers French Bread put a great deal of effort into addressing players’ problems with their game.

Neco Arc comes alongside a massive balance patch, one that may have brought some players back on its own. But this patch in tandem with Neco Arc’s release is an incredible combination, one that has allowed Melty Blood to simultaneously capture a new audience and hold onto its niche player base.

And, on top of all that, both Neco Arc and Mash Kyrielight, the other character added, are free updates. Rather than gating this content behind a paywall, returning players can jump right into Neco’s shoes at no cost.

Thanks to her incredible influence, the hard work all those developers put into a full game rebalancing patch has paid off.

We only have Steam player counts to go off of, but, according to the Melty Blood: Type Lumina steam charts, this game has seen a peak 497% player increase from July to August. And, considering how much of the fighting game player base resides on console, this PC player count is likely a fraction of the actual count of returning players.

After such a big balance patch, Melty Blood: Type Lumina might as well be a new game. With character tier lists thrown out the window, there’s so much to learn for Melty Blood’s best players.

Hopefully, Melty Blood: Type Lumina can maintain this momentum and make a return appearance at EVO in 2023.