Understanding Rollback Netcode in Fighting Games: A Comprehensive Guide


What is ‘rollback netcode’ in fighting games?

Fighting games have always been a staple of the gaming industry, attracting a passionate and dedicated community of players. However, the competitive nature of these games often exposes the limitations of online multiplayer. Input delay, lag, and inconsistent connections can greatly affect the gaming experience and hinder the competitive integrity of matches.

Thankfully, game developers have been tirelessly working to address these issues with the implementation of rollback netcode. Rollback netcode is an advanced networking technique that aims to minimize input delay and provide a smoother and more responsive online experience for players.

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In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of rollback netcode in fighting games. We will explore the underlying principles behind this technology, how it differs from other types of netcode, and why it has become the preferred choice for many developers. Additionally, we will discuss the benefits of rollback netcode for both casual and competitive players, and provide tips on how to optimize your online experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned fighting game enthusiast or new to the genre, understanding rollback netcode is crucial in order to fully appreciate and enjoy the online multiplayer aspect of these games. So, join us as we unravel the mysteries of rollback netcode and discover how it revolutionizes the way we play fighting games online.

What is Rollback Netcode?

Rollback netcode is a networking technique used in online multiplayer video games, particularly in fighting games, to minimize input delay and provide a smoother online experience for players. It is designed to compensate for the inherent latency or delay that occurs when playing games online.

Traditionally, fighting games and other real-time games have used delay-based netcode, where the game waits for the slowest connection or player’s input to be received before advancing the game state. This results in a delay or lag between the player’s input and the game’s response, which can negatively impact the gameplay experience, especially in fast-paced games like fighting games.

Rollback netcode, on the other hand, takes a different approach to minimize input delay. It predicts the player’s inputs locally and immediately displays the game’s response, making the game feel more responsive. The game then sends these predicted inputs to the opponent’s game, which also makes its own predictions. If the predictions match, the game continues as normal. However, if there is a discrepancy, the game “rolls back” to a previous game state and replays the inputs with the correct information, eliminating or reducing the effects of the delay.

This rollback process happens very quickly, usually within a few frames, and is often imperceptible to the players. It allows for smoother online gameplay and makes it feel more like playing locally, where there is minimal input delay. Rollback netcode also typically incorporates various techniques like interpolation and frame skipping to further improve the overall experience.

While rollback netcode has become more widely adopted in recent years, it is not a universally implemented technique and not all games utilize it. However, its effectiveness has been widely recognized, and it has become a desirable feature for online fighting games, where precise timing and responsiveness are essential for competitive gameplay.

The Key Features of Rollback Netcode Explained

  • Frame Prediction: Rollback netcode uses frame prediction to estimate the future state of the game based on the player’s inputs. This helps to reduce the effects of latency and ensure smooth gameplay.
  • Rollback: In case of a network delay or input discrepancy, rollback netcode will roll back the game state to the last confirmed frame and resimulate it with corrected inputs. This ensures that both players see consistent gameplay.
  • Dynamic Adjustments: Rollback netcode adjusts the amount of rollback and prediction based on the current network conditions. This helps to maintain a balance between responsiveness and accuracy.
  • Interpolation: Rollback netcode uses interpolation to smoothly transition between frames in case of rollback. This helps to hide the visual glitches caused by the rollback process.
  • Input Delay: Rollback netcode introduces a small amount of input delay to provide a buffer for rollbacks and predictions. This delay is usually imperceptible to the players but helps to ensure a consistent experience.
  • GGPO: GGPO is a popular implementation of rollback netcode that has been widely used in fighting games. It provides all the key features mentioned above and has been praised for its effectiveness in reducing latency.

Overall, rollback netcode is a crucial technology in fighting games that helps to provide smooth and responsive online gameplay. It minimizes the effects of latency and ensures that both players have a fair and consistent experience.

How Does Rollback Netcode Work?

Rollback netcode is a networking technique used in fighting games to minimize input delay and provide a more responsive online experience. It is designed to compensate for network latency by predicting and correcting gameplay inconsistencies caused by network delay.

When playing a fighting game online, the game client sends input commands to the server, which processes these inputs and determines the outcome of the game. The server then sends the game state back to the clients, who render the game based on that information.

With rollback netcode, the client predicts the outcome of the game based on its local inputs before receiving the server’s response. As a result, the game can continue to play smoothly even if there is network lag. However, if there is a discrepancy between the predicted and actual game state, a rollback occurs.

During a rollback, the game state is rewound to the point in time where the discrepancy occurred. The client then replays the inputs from that point forward, allowing the game to catch up with the correct state. This process is transparent to the players and typically happens within a few frames, resulting in minimal disruption to gameplay.

To ensure smooth gameplay, rollback netcode uses various techniques:

  • Prediction: The client predicts the outcome of the game based on its local inputs, reducing the perceived input delay.
  • Interpolation: The client interpolates between the previous and current game states, smoothing out any visual inconsistencies during rollback.
  • Reconciliation: The client reconciles the differences between the predicted and actual game states by applying corrections during rollback.

Rollback netcode can provide a much better online experience compared to delay-based netcode, where inputs are delayed to match network latency. By minimizing input delay and allowing for smoother gameplay, rollback netcode enables players to enjoy competitive matches and tournaments online, regardless of their physical distance from each other.

Understanding the Technical Implementation of Rollback Netcode

Rollback netcode is a networking technique that has revolutionized online gameplay, particularly in fighting games. It is designed to minimize the effects of latency and ensure smooth and responsive gameplay experiences for players. To understand the technical implementation of rollback netcode, it is essential to grasp the core concepts and technologies involved.

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At its core, rollback netcode relies on two main components: prediction and rollback. Prediction algorithms are used to anticipate and simulate the actions of remote players, allowing for instantaneous visual and audio feedback. Rollback, on the other hand, comes into play when prediction errors occur. Rollback technology rewinds the game state to the last known synchronized point and re-simulates the game to make corrections.


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Prediction algorithms in rollback netcode are responsible for simulating the actions of remote players and predicting the outcomes in real-time. These algorithms analyze and interpret the player inputs sent over the network to determine the most likely moves and actions the players will take. By doing so, the game can provide immediate visual and audio feedback, creating the illusion of seamless online play.

Prediction algorithms typically consider a player’s input history, character states, and game rules to make accurate predictions. These predictions are then used to update the game state and provide real-time feedback to the player. The accuracy of predictions is crucial in ensuring a smooth and responsive gameplay experience.


Despite the accuracy of prediction algorithms, there are instances when prediction errors occur due to network fluctuations or latency. Rollback technology comes into play to handle these errors and maintain gameplay integrity. When a prediction error is detected, the game state is rolled back to the last known synchronized point.

Rollback involves reverting the game state and simulating the game from that point onwards to correct the prediction error. This process ensures that both players are kept in sync and that the gameplay remains fair and consistent. To hide the visual artifacts caused by the rollback process, graphical and audio tricks are often used to seamlessly blend the corrected game state with the player’s inputs.

Implementation Challenges:

Implementing rollback netcode can be challenging due to various factors, including synchronization, input delays, and netcode optimizations. Synchronizing the game state across multiple devices and maintaining consistency is crucial for ensuring that all players experience the same gameplay. Input delays must also be carefully managed to avoid frustrations and maintain a responsive gaming experience.

Optimizing rollback netcode is also essential to minimize network bandwidth usage and reduce latency. This involves techniques such as delta compression, which only sends the changes in game state over the network, reducing the amount of data transferred.


Rollback netcode is a complex networking technique that has significantly improved online gameplay experiences, particularly in fighting games. By leveraging prediction algorithms and rollback technology, developers can create seamless and responsive experiences for players, minimizing the impact of latency and network fluctuations. Understanding the technical implementation of rollback netcode can provide insights into how it works and contributes to a better online gaming experience.


What is rollback netcode?

Rollback netcode is a networking technique used in fighting games to minimize the input delay and maintain a smooth online experience. It allows players to input their actions immediately and then predicts what the opponent will do based on their previous inputs. If the predicted actions differ from what the opponent actually does, the game rolls back to a previous state and resimulates the game with the correct inputs.

How does rollback netcode work?

Rollback netcode works by constantly predicting the actions of both players based on their previous inputs. When a discrepancy is detected between the predicted actions and the actual actions, the game rolls back to a previous state and applies the correct inputs. This process happens in a matter of milliseconds to maintain a smooth and responsive gameplay experience.

Why is rollback netcode important in fighting games?

Rollback netcode is important in fighting games because it minimizes input delay and ensures a more accurate representation of the gameplay. It allows players to have a similar experience online as they would offline, which is crucial for competitive play. Without rollback netcode, online matches can suffer from significant input delay, making it difficult for players to react and perform their moves effectively.

What are the advantages of rollback netcode?

Rollback netcode has several advantages. Firstly, it minimizes input delay, allowing players to have a more responsive gameplay experience. Secondly, it maintains a smooth online experience by predicting actions and rolling back when necessary. Lastly, rollback netcode ensures a more accurate representation of the gameplay, making online matches feel similar to offline matches. These advantages contribute to a better overall online experience for fighting game players.

Are there any drawbacks to rollback netcode?

While rollback netcode is generally praised for its advantages, there are some potential drawbacks. In certain situations, when the game has to roll back to a previous state, players may experience a visual inconsistency known as “rollback artifacts.” These artifacts can manifest as momentary teleportation or odd character movements. However, most players consider these minor inconveniences compared to the benefits of rollback netcode.

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