In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai was asked about his thoughts on Smash’s competitive scene and its status as an esport, as well as how he’s taking this into account while developing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Early on, when asked whether he would prioritize the tournament scene or a more casual audience, Sakurai responded that catering to any specific audience is not a major concern of his, saying "I feel like a game, at the end of the day, is about playing the game. But if we focus too much on the top level players - or the audience - then the game skews a little bit too much on the technical side."
The article delves into Nintendo’s reluctance to embrace esports to the same degree that other publishers have, and when asked for his thoughts as to why this is the case, Sakurai simply said "The philosophy behind them doesn’t go in line with Nintendo’s philosophy in that some of these players are playing for the prize money," elaborating that he thinks this goes against Nintendo’s idea of what a game should be.
He later gives something of an explanation as to why, despite going in a more fast-paced and technical direction than with the previous two titles, he and his team have opted not to bring back some of Super Smash Bros. Melee’s advanced techniques for Ultimate. Sakurai explains that "I think a lot of Melee players love Melee. But at the same time, I think a lot of players, on the other hand, gave up on Melee because it’s too technical, because they can’t keep up with it."
Sakurai also brought up how several Melee players have developed tendinitis from the stress the game puts on high-level players’ hands. Though he didn’t name any specific individuals, Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman and Aziz "Hax" Al-Yami immediately come to mind. Knowing that Sakurai himself suffered from tendinitis throughout the development of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, it seems likely that the idea of players developing the condition from playing one of his games doesn't sit well with him.
The original article with Sakurai's full thoughts, as well as a deeper look at Smash's status as an esport, is available on The Washington Post.