• [2018/06/22]
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Game Director
Hidden Variable Dev
May 5, 2017
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Los Angeles, CA
It’s that time again - our preview of what to expect from Skullgirls Mobile in 2023!


First off, thanks for your patience and understanding while we put this together. What better time to share a roadmap than ⅓ of the way into the new year? 😅

Outside the usual vagaries of game development, the main reason this is going out later than usual is that I was fortunate enough to be able to give a talk at the Game Developers Conference this year about the journey and design philosophies behind Skullgirls Mobile.

If you haven’t seen it already, be sure to check it out!

Rolling with the Punches: Reinventing Fighting Games for Mobile

Anyway! Even though that gobbled up more of my time than I anticipated, that’s all behind us now - eager to share our plans for the coming year at long last.

On that note, let’s do away with all these rambly preambles and caveats and dig in!

2022 RECAP​

In our 2022 Roadmap post, we talked about a LOT of features that we had planned. While not everything on that list made it into Skullgirls Mobile last year, before we dive into the 2023 Roadmap, we wanted to provide a quick recap of all that we accomplished over the past year:

  • We launched both Umbrella and Black Dahlia with all the bells, whistles, bubbles, bullets, Fighters, Daily Events, and Prize Fights that come along with them!
  • As part of the Black Dahlia launch, we introduced a Character Relic Shard system to make it easier to collect new Fighters (something we plan to use for future character releases).
  • In addition to 23 new Umbrella and Black Dahlia Fighters, we also added Fan Favorite and Number Cruncher as exclusive giveaway-only Fighters (shout out to Necrobreaker for dutifully serving that role for so many years).
  • We revamped several systems, converting Missions into Daily Ops and adding Skip Tickets to Daily Events, to reduce the Daily Event tedium so you could focus on more engaging content.
  • As promised, we also revisited Rift Battles and added a number of oft requested features to help maximize variety (Attacker/Defender Diversity) and adjusted Tiers to enable more players to reap the benefits of top Rift performance.
  • We made hefty refinements to the Move System, adding Loadouts to make it easier to swap in your favorite moveset and Retakes to make it easier to craft the perfect move without being fully bound by the shackles of RNG.
  • We gave Show Me Your Moves a makeover so it could serve as a reliable way to collect Retakes for free!
  • While we all love Holodeck Hazards, for those of us that just can’t wait to max out our Fighters, we added mouthwatering XP Treats so you can build viable versions of newly acquired and/or buffed Fighters in no time! 2021 Roadmap promises at last fulfilled! 😤
  • This only scratches the surface of all the little things we added as well, including Daily Gifts, Standard > Gold Gift Conversion, and Bonus Theonite with your first purchase.
For a trip down memory lane, we recommend browsing through our Update Notes to reflect on the year that was. Now, on to 2023!


Just like our 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018 Preview posts, the features below are going to be discussed in very broad terms. This is intentional. While we have clear goals, the route we take to achieve them often changes once we sink our teeth into the task at hand (and a little air of mystery is nice from time to time).


In a bit of a shift, we’re borrowing a format from our good friends (or at least I suspect we’d be good friends 🥺👉👈) over at Second Dinner (makers of Marvel Snap).

For context:
  • COMING SOON means something you can expect to see in our next major update.
  • IN DEVELOPMENT means something you can expect to see in the next 2-3 updates.
  • IN CONCEPT means things we are in the process of exploring, which could make an appearance sooner, but likely won’t see the light of day until 2024.
NOTE: Obviously if we listed EVERYTHING we’re talking about/considering, this list would be 100+ items long - this is simply meant to reflect some of the things near the top of the pile.


Brand New Game Mode​
New Character - Marie​
Auto-Leveled Fighter Slot​
Monthly Fighter Drops​
Main Menu Redesign​
Move Management QoL​
Exclusive Avatars​
Collection Cap Adjustments​
Chat Presentation Updates​
Fight Replay System​
New Collectibles (...?)​
Backstage Pass​
Anti-Cheat Improvements​
New Characters(-ish)​
Character Ability Adjustments​
New Origin Stories​
Offensive/Defensive Movesets​

Let’s dig into these in a bit more detail!


  • Brand New Game Mode
    • It’s been EONS since we added a new Game Mode - it’s about time we fixed that!
    • Our goal is to make up for lost time and ensure that there is plenty for everyone to do beyond “just” grinding Prize Fights and Rift Battles day after day.
    • While this will be a major step towards that goal, there is much more to come!

  • Monthly Fighter Drops
    • Building on the extended Prize Fight duration changes we made in 2021, we’re making an effort to make our foundational monthly Live Ops content more meaningful and content-rich.
    • As such, starting with our next update, you can expect to see brand new Fighters EVERY MONTH (featured in the monthly Relics) moving forward.
  • Exclusive Avatars
    • As a building block towards more robust customization and expression features, we’ll be adding the ability to collect brand new Avatar portraits that go beyond your Collection and include a variety of new Characters and art styles.

  • Chat Presentation Updates
    • What’s the point of new Avatars if you don’t have a place to properly celebrate them?
    • We’ll be updating the presentation of our Chat windows to display your chosen Avatar alongside every message you share.
    • Consider this a refinement looking ahead to more improved social features in the future!
  • Backstage Pass
    • We all know and love Battle Passes, don’t we? Who doesn’t love more free stuff?!
    • ALL players will be able to engage in “Mission”-like Daily/Weekly/Monthly goals to accumulate points over the course of a month to earn a bunch of new FREE goodies!
    • A Premium Track for spending players will also be made available that provides even more juicy rewards.

  • Character Ability Adjustments
    • Once upon a time, the notion of a Character Ability button was unheard of. Real Skullgirls Mobile players double-swiped up or down to trigger special abilities, accidental inputs and unreliability be damned!
    • Well, it’s a new era, and it’s about time that folks like Peacock and Painwheel received proper Character Ability buttons of their own (along with a few tweaks to make their abilities that much more useful)! 👀


  • New Character - Marie
    • Oh, right! At long last THE SKULLGIRL HERSELF will soon be fully playable!
    • Keep an eye out for all sorts of in development teasers on our social media pages leading up to her release later this year!

  • Main Menu Redesign
    • It’s about time that some of the elements of our game got a fresh coat of paint, both for variety's sake and to help properly celebrate all the cool new stuff that is coming down the pipe!

  • Collection Cap Friction Adjustments
    • Nothing like eagerly heading over to open up a brand new Relic you’ve just acquired, only to be slapped in the face by a pop-up demanding you clear out space in your Collection, make your bed, take out the trash, etc.
    • While some Collection limits are necessary for technical reasons, we want to find ways to minimize its impact on the Relic opening process.

  • Fight Replay System
    • Fight replays are currently used internally as a development/debug tool. Now we want to bring that functionality to everyone! Why? Several reasons come to mind!
      • See how your opponent beat your Prize Fight or Rift Node Defense Team
      • Share an epic, down to the wire performance you’re particularly proud of
      • See how other players cleared a particularly challenging Story Mode node
    • Hopefully this can help make it easier to share knowledge and memorable moments with the community and progressing players.

  • Anti-Cheat Improvements


  • Auto-Leveled Fighter Slot
    • We think it’d be neat to have a way to assign a single Fighter to a slot that will temporarily boost their level and Skill Tree to mirror one of your top Fighters.
    • Handy for brand new Fighters that you want to try on for size prior to making the full investment to permanently level them up!

  • Move Management Quality of Life (QoL) Improvements
    • Reviewing, filtering, sorting, and selling moves en masse is kind of a pain. We should fix that.

  • Guilds

      (…did it work? Are they gone?)
    • Well, what is there to be said about Guilds that hasn’t already been stated by a greater man than I (namely 2022 Zug):

      As we’ve mentioned previously, this is a pretty substantial undertaking, so we’ve been hesitant to commit to it until we knew we could give it the attention it deserves.

      “Guilds” (final Skullgirls term TBD) will refer to methods by which players can band together and face both collaborative and competitive challenges in pursuit of exclusive, coveted rewards. Guild features will likely be rolled out in phases, so the odds of us releasing everything we have in mind for them in 2023 are slim, but we’re eager to properly get the ball rolling once and for all.

    • (In other words, not this year!)
    • Although it may not seem like it at first glance, but many of the other features we're working on are in service to our eventual Guilds implementation.

  • New Collectibles (...?)
    • Oh, cool. I like Collecting stuff. I wonder what the heck this could be.

  • New Characters(-ish)
    • Wha…? Like new Characters, but… not? CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER.
Could it finally be their time...?

  • New Origin Stories
    • Nothing would make us happier than to make these a more regular occurrence in our content updates. We have such sights to show you…

  • Offensive/Defensive Movesets
    • Ah yes, that which was teased alongside Loadouts and Retakes, but never fully released.
    • Turns out this is… complicated. Lots of strange edge cases and odd UX challenges that caused us to put this on hold for a bit. Still eager to get it in once and for all!


After hitting up a TON of events in 2022, we’re only going to be officially attending one event this year: Evo (Las Vegas, Aug 4-6). If you’re planning to attend, be sure to swing by the Skullgirls booth to meet us in person and score all kinds of FREE booth exclusive giveaways and prizes. We hope to see you there!

Have you checked out the official Skullgirls TikTok and all of its exclusive content (including behind the scenes Marie teasers)?

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! Enjoy it before the government shuts it down!

As many of you know, two of our intrepid team members stream regularly on Twitch and are known to give away free stuff every 3 weeks or so. If you don’t already, be sure to follow JuJuBlu (Twitch, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok) and TheAlmightyBones (Twitch, Twitter) so you don’t miss out!

Starting this year, the one and only Cellsai will also be hosting some giveaways with more European friendly start times on the official Hidden Variable Twitch account.


Also, JuJu usually hosts open lobbies for Skullgirls 2nd Encore on Twitch on Fridays, often featuring one or more devs in chat. Come hang out with us sometime!


That should do it for our 2023 Roadmap! If there’s anything in particular you are hoping to see in 2023 (either as a part of the items mentioned above or something entirely new), don’t be shy about sharing them below - we’re always listening!

Thanks once again for all of your support - we hope to see you all in game, on stream, or even in person!

MightyZug (Charley) and all of us at Hidden Variable:

Pen Stroke Pony
Sam Handwich
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I appended a missing line to the Guilds section:

  • Although it may not seem like it at first glance, but many of the other features we're working on are in service to our eventual Guilds implementation.
Guilds are a BIG deal, and we need to lay a lot of road down before we get there!

Take another look through the stuff we have planned above, keeping in mind how they might be useful or important to Guilds and you may see some patterns!
  • As such, starting with our next update, you can expect to see brand new Fighters EVERY MONTH (featured in the monthly Relics) moving forward.
So, am I interpreting this graphic correctly? Is each pair of Gold/Diamond silhouettes the new fighters EACH MONTH?!
24 new fighters a year? 12 new Golds/Diamonds a year? That seems...unbelievable! "Cats and dogs, living together! Mass HYSTERIA!"
Yo solo quieri q todos los personajes sean obtenibles en todas las reliquias
How are the monthly relics going to work? I assume they will be exclusive to the monthly for a while and then released generally. The usual 3 or 4 months? Or will that also change?
First of all, great talk at the GDC - I had watched it a while ago and enjoyed hearing about how the team’s creativity and iterations. Having played since game launch the game has come a LONG way over the past five years. HVS has a truly remarkable game that shall be remembered in the history of mobile fighting game!

New Game Mode - Can’t wait to play it! Will you guys be doing some beta testing like with rift and PVP?

Monthly new characters - sounds like a great way to keep things fresh and provides something to look forward to. I hope they won’t all be Diamond tiers but either Silver or Gold to make them more accessible for all players. Also looking forward to seeing more buffs and nerfs to existing characters. That last batch of buffs was great to finally play some unpopular variants! Also some tuning to Unholy Host is very much in need for balancing unless you give everyone a copy and ban her from rift…

Avatars and chat presentation - I’ve always turned chat off so maybe this may encourage me to turn that back on?

Backstage pass - the time has finally come! Hopefully you guys saw the thread I started a while back on the forum on this topic and found some of those ideas useful.

Character Ability Adjustment - super excited about this! Filia’s treatment made her much more enjoyable, and I can’t wait to see how Peacock and Painwheel will transform. Calling it here that Peacock may become the most annoying defender once the banjo move is reworked and she starts dodging everything with the hole idea!

Replay function - very nice to more easily share memorable moments. Will this include rift replays so you can see how others took down your defense? On a related note, is an improved Training mode still in development or concept?

Auto-level character slot - I had pitched a similar idea (rent a variant lv50 with lv3 moves) years back when it was hard to get the resource to evolve to diamond and level quickly. I don’t think this is needed too much now with much improved ways to max out a new character for end game players, but it’ll be very useful for newer/more causal folks for sure!

Move management and offensive/defensive move set - at this point I have enough good moves to have a dedicated set for each variant at lv9+ so it’s not that critical of a function but would welcome it when it’s implemented. More importantly, I’d really like to see better filter/search system especially when you are in the equip a move window (why can’t you sort there never made sense to me…)

New collectibles and characters - hopefully collectibles are not more types of resources for player progress but more to do with cosmetics or achievements. We already have many types of resources in game to manage. As for characters, I think we are at a point where we have so many types of buffs and debuffs that I can’t even remember what’s what anymore. Was having a hard time remembering the difference between precision and deadeye the other day and had to look them up…

Guild - never really cared for it so take your time or scrap it all together. I feel like with improved chat, discord, twitch etc there’s plenty of ways for players to get together. Seeing how the new game mode is already coming soon it seems like we already missed the boat to tie it to guild, which would’ve been nice to have a guild-centered game mode.

Wish item - can you look into letting us adjust input sensitivity? Ever switching to iPhone14Pro the screen is very slippery and I can’t maintain a block consistently. It’d turn into a grab so easily that I lose a lot of high steak fights due to this unintended slip up.

Overall very excited to see the roadmap and the next update can’t come soon enough! Thank you HVS for all the constant hard work and please don’t forget to communicate with the player base frequently. Has Zug already appeared on one of the streams yet or did I missed that? 😆
I'm extremely happy to see an increase in variant releases, the strategies of team building are really the heart and soul of the game for me, and the droughts between variant releases was one of my least favorite aspects. The only thing I could've asked for more on this roadmap would be adding new moves to existing characters, be it more stitched-together moves from 2E, or cut moves brought back from the concept art! I am curious as to what new character-ish could be. Could we possibly see more of braindrain's cloning hobby at work? Or perhaps A peak into the timelines revealing alternative versions of characters with vastly different paths to the living ones? I'm eager to know what new-ish characters truly means for us! But it's only concepts so I doubt even you guys know what that really means, here's hoping we all stay alive long enough to find out! Lmao.
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is there a chance in the future that trading could be added? If so, how would it work? :]
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I'm very excited about the new game mode, SGM needs a breather and this should be a great way to give it a boost!

If this was any other game I would be very worried about a Backstage Pass but SGM has some of the best monetization I've seen in a mobile game so I'm gonna trust you guys. The premium track sounds, let's say... SNAPpy?

Marie looks awesome.

  • Move Management Quality of Life (QoL) Improvements
    • Reviewing, filtering, sorting, and selling moves en masse is kind of a pain. We should fix that.

I'm not gonna claim to even begin to understand the database challenges you guys face with such a monstrous amount of data so I'm gonna assume there is some cost way beyond my outsider's perspective that's blocking this user story from seeing any movement. Please just take this as a plea for help by someone who is both: a neurotic OCD twit and a tremendous fan of the game: Let me freaking filter my moves by Crit Resist so I can go back and delete years of mistakes. Make it so I have to destroy a diamond key or an elemental essence every time I open the menu or something, I'm OK with that.


With that out of the way, congratulations on another year of SGM and thanks again for all the hard work.
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Looking forward to whatever the new game mode is, whether a tower or a big Everest boss fight or anything else. Hopefully the backstage pass isn't too heavily on the p2w side of the scale. Rip guilds for another year #ComingSoonTM
Just my own opinion, could you make the keys and characters and some other stuff sellable?
Adding new variant each month (2 if I read that graphic correctly) is a bit much? I don't really know how I should feel about this. One is I happy that we get new "content" consistently, but other is worry because I have on my hand so many variants that I haven't finish building and/or touching. Consider me as a "senior player" (since 2019-20 ish, hiatus for a year or so) but I can't even keep up with new variant each few months. This give end game players something new to play with and build, for me it will be adding one more to the pile, for new players, that will be an even bigger pile.
Other than that, many other great things to look forward to.
haha, I'm the total opposite. As a collector, the swarm of new fighters is exciting! #TwelfthFilia 🤩
New Characters(-ish)
  • Wha…? Like new Characters, but… not? CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER.
Hey look everybody! Minette *wink* is now part of SGM *wink wink*
New Collectibles (...?)
  • Oh, cool. I like Collecting stuff. I wonder what the heck this could be.
It would be rad if one could obtain the Skull Heart somehow and it grants you a wish (a million coins, 10 diamond rings, etc.).
Wow! This is a great plan for 2023! 🤩

There are some doubts about the buttons for Painwheel and Peacock (I have no problems with them, and additional buttons are always a panic).

Will more than 5 blockbusters/special moves be added for a character in battle? For example, it would be cool for Valentine to have a choice of all VIAL HAZARD at once.
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forget everything else all I care about is THAT NEW FILIA VARIANT....ooo im actually excited for that umbrella one too.
Peacock and Painwheel received proper Character Ability button
I completely forgot they had character abilities this is really cool actually.
Maybe voice packs will be on the next roadmap. it would make playing parasoul and painwheel so much more interesting.

Overall this roadmap is promising!
Can't wait to see the changes!