In 2012, even the world's greatest Dark Knight Detective would struggle to find a major gaming release without some form of primary online function. Twenty years after the original exploded into arcades -- Mortal Kombat (2011) made online modes a vital component of the experience, retooling coin culture for the modern age with their King of the Hill multiplayer sessions, and peer-to-peer kombat.

The raw competitive experience of a two-player fight makes online play a natural fit for the genre, but with its demand for split second timing and frame-by-frame accuracy, real-time online fighting still leaves room for improvement in even the most successful titles. As Ed Boon recently told Eurogamer, the studio will carry lessons learned from their last outing when they unleash the online engine of the 2013 DC franchise starter: Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Online network code that received criticism for lag issues last year will undergo a major update, radically reinvented for the superhero fighter. New modes will elaborate on what was achieved with King of the Hill for play groups, while the transfer of basic game data will hopefully improve with the new system.

We're optimising our network code. For the inputs being sent back and forth we have a new, more elaborate system. And then we also have more things where groups of people participate in more of a round robin, and there's a meta-game in there. There's a lot of cool stuff coming for online.
In an interview with Gamespot, the Injustice Creative Director discussed grandiose visions for exactly what online modes will mean for the fighting genre in years to come. The prospect of major online competition is not so far fetched, Boon's comments coinciding with Major League Gaming's recent online tournament -- a competition won by the Summer Fighter Arena winner, Pig of the Hut.

Of course, as with Mortal Kombat, the importance of online function won't end with the digital domination of friends and strangers. New innovations look to improve upon every area of the online experience.

Downloadable Content will again be a major part of NetherRealm's approach, providing content extensions with a system designed to free the experience from common limitations. Newly added download characters will no longer be hampered by compatability thanks to simple data sharing -- the developer quick to distance themselves from comparisons to rival company Capcom, whose paid for extras have come packed on-disc.

"We want to come up with a way to push all that information onto people's machines so if I buy some character that was available for download, you would have it on your machine and I would be able to fight against you online."

Not everything will be reinvented for the DC fighter. Returning from MK will be NetherRealm Studios' background "hotfix" system [read more], designed for gameplay tweaks that are as sensitive as they are unintrusive.

"It'll be all in the background. [...] We can tune nobs and get it on everybody's machine. Let's say there's a punch, and you animate it at a certain speed. If you decide the punch is too fast, we have the ability to go into that code and find the speed, let's say it's playing at 2x speed, we can change that to 1.8, or 1.7, and slow it down slightly for everybody's machine."

Injustice: Gods Among Us is set to arrive on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii U some time in 2013. Read the full Ed Boon story at Discuss this story and more in the DC Universe Injustice forums.