Image courtesy of Nintendo
While many games have found success in the esports space in large part due to support from their developer, Super Smash Bros has always done so in spite of it. Nintendo has never shown a whole lot of interest in supporting the esports space. Iterations of the Nintendo World Championship have always been more of a spectacle than a legitimate competition. They’re more akin to watching Legends of the Hidden Temple or Double Dare, not that there’s anything wrong with those shows by the way.
During a recent interview with Nikkei, Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa confirmed that the company would continue planning its games around mass appeal and wouldn’t let competitive aspects affect production. In recent years, Nintendo had seemed to tentatively begin showing support for their esports scene, both with Smash Bros and Splatoon. It lead to speculation that Nintendo may start making more large scale investments into the space. However, this should throw some water on that speculation.
It’s disappointing for those in the Smash community. The fighting game scene is already one that is built on third party support. FGC competitors remain woefully underpaid for their abilities, and tournament prizes in many cases are lackluster. Many had hoped that the Smash competitions at E3 signaled a shift in philosophy from Nintendo, but sadly that just isn’t the case.
Overall, it’s not surprising. Nintendo has always believed that games were meant for everyone. Professional gaming very much flies in the face of what their company motto has always been. That said, the passion of fans shouldn’t just be blatantly ignored. The grassroots success of the Smash Bros Ultimate, and Melee scene before it, should be enough to spur Nintendo to action.