When you spend years and years paying attention to the video game industry, you like to think you can make educated predictions. For example, we were excited, but not totally shocked, to see Simon Belmont make his debut in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. And the name “Starfield” had been kicking around way before Bethesda made it official at this year’s E3. But you can’t get too confident in your predictions because there’s always a chance you’ll be embarrassingly wrong.

Case in point, for months now we’ve been expecting to see Mortal Kombat 11, the next fighting game from NetherRealm Studios. It just made sense. Ever since the WB buyout Ed Boon and friends have consistently put out a blockbuster new fighting game every other spring, with the announcements happening in the off years. Injustice II came out over a year ago, so surely MK11 is just around the corner? But so far, nothing.

It’s not like there haven’t been plenty of opportunities to announce whatever violent shenanigans Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and the gang are up to next. Obviously E3 is the prime time to make all of your video game announcements, or the weeks leading up to E3 to own a at least a whole day of the media cycle.

However, given the colorful cast of characters and deep lore, San Diego Comic-Con could’ve also been a good place for Mortal Kombat 11 to shine, especially if they want a shorter marketing cycle to maintain higher hype levels until release.

And don’t forget, just a few days ago was EVO, the world’s biggest fighting game tournament including NetherRealm games like Mortal Kombat X and Injustice II. Other publishers used the event to announce news like Negan in Tekken and The President of the World in Street Fighter V. But a new Mortal Kombat bombshell would blow those all away. And yet, we heard nothing at any of these events.

Maybe the next Mortal Kombat is just further away than we think? The franchise still has a lot to offer fighting games (a spooky M-rated gory MK-esque reboot is the way I think Capcom should resurrect Darkstalkers to separate it from Street Fighter) but maybe the team feels they’re stuck in a rut with the the eleventh core Mortal Kombat game since 1992. The DC superhero rest periods can only distract so much.

The ending of MKX also suggested that the follow-up would conclude a kind of trilogy. That has to raise expectations and pressure. We’ve guessed that NetherRealm wants to top themselves in the fighting game single-player story department, an area they utterly dominate, and that would take time. Coming up with creative new carnage in the form of fatalities can’t be easy either.

Not to speculate too much, but we also don’t know what’s entirely going on with WB Games. Shadow of War, last year’s sequel to the acclaimed Lord of the Rings orc slavery simulator Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, caught so much flack for the paid loot boxes that they were recently removed. That has to upend entire business models of not just that game but future WB projects. NetherRealm’s previous games experimented with loot boxes, too. We’re similarly oblivious as to what’s going on with other WB game studios like their Montreal branch or Rocksteady Studios (probably working on a Superman game but hopefully working on Batman: Arkham Boat).

Two years is a tight turnaround for a video game, especially for the more lavish, feature-rich style of fighting game NetherRealm is now known for. If we have to wait until 2020 for the next Mortal Kombat that’s totally fine. Part of us even hopes that their next game isn’t Mortal Kombat or Injustice but a sequel to 2008’s Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Crossovers are arguably bigger than ever. But whatever the future holds, Ed Boon will just keep trolling us on Twitter, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

For more on fighting games check out our exhaustive history of the genre as well as what Sonic Fox’s EVO victory means for the future of the culture.

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