Sakurai Comments on Smash's Esport Status

sakurai_comments_on_the_file_type.jpg
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.
 
Blaise "Scribe" Camacho

Comments

#3
It's become pretty clear over time that Sakurai doesn't "get it." Or, perhaps better said, he does, and he actively and intentionally works against making another game as deep as Melee. I sort of understand where he's coming from, but I really don't know that I agree that anyone found Melee too hard. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things about Melee that could use refinement, but not in the drastic way that Brawl/SSB4 were executed. It looks like SSBU will be the closest thing to returning to Melee-esque technical depth yet, but I imagine it will still leave me and others wanting.

Having said that, I will absolutely play and enjoy it, even if I ultimately go back to Melee. I've enjoyed my time with every Smash game, and I doubt this will be an exception.
 
#5
like everyone i knew when melee came out was 10-11 years old and we loved it to death. uncovering core mechanics and depth over the years just added to the fun for us.

conversely i bumped in to a lot of younger people in the smash scene when brawl was fresh, and they all preferred melee. i've never read a single take on smash that has suggested it benefits from remaining less "competitive" than it could be. i don't know who these sacred casuals are that sakurai keeps trying to appeal to.

whenever my friends and i were around people who knew melee less than us, we just turned on handicaps. no complaints. the handful of arguably throwaway/side modes like smash tour/run//special brawl/etc should cover "the game needs to be a game" logic. just because something attracts an audience and people play for prizes doesn't make it not a game...? you could argue that makes it even more concretely a game, and one that works as games ought to¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
Last edited:
#6
It's become pretty clear over time that Sakurai doesn't "get it." Or, perhaps better said, he does, and he actively and intentionally works against making another game as deep as Melee. I sort of understand where he's coming from, but I really don't know that I agree that anyone found Melee too hard. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things about Melee that could use refinement, but not in the drastic way that Brawl/SSB4 were executed. It looks like SSBU will be the closest thing to returning to Melee-esque technical depth yet, but I imagine it will still leave me and others wanting.

Having said that, I will absolutely play and enjoy it, even if I ultimately go back to Melee. I've enjoyed my time with every Smash game, and I doubt this will be an exception.
I can't even execute Smash attacks properly or recover half of the time in Melee. If you think Melee isn't too hard and all people wants its gameplay, then why Brawl and 3DS sold more? A majority of people play Smash because it is fun, not because it is an e-sport.

EDIT: If your favourite game is Melee, nice, but not every Smash game has to be Melee.
 
Last edited:
#7
I can't even execute Smash attacks properly or recover half of the time in Melee. If you think Melee isn't too hard and all people wants its gameplay, then why Brawl and 3DS sold more? A majority of people play Smash because it is fun, not because it is an e-sport.
marketing/advertising leading to insane amounts of hype + the wii selling more than four times as much as the gamecube in north america are probably bigger factors

quick edit: take a look at the percentage of how many console owners owned the aforementioned games worldwide; 33% of gamecube owners owned melee. less than 10% of wii owners owned a copy of brawl. i'm not disputing that brawl sold terrifically, but, you can infer something from these statistics and the context
 
Last edited:
#9
As much as I want a competitive Smash with Ultimate, I respect the hell out of this man and his vision. Melee will always be there if you need it either way.

And as someone who has suffered much repetitive stress injury and pain... It's probably for the best. Not that it's going to stop me from dash dancing and pivoting up a storm.

Cheers, Sakurai.

***

also... I hate to say it, but fighting games aren't really made for E-sports. If it was all highlights- or if everyone who watched was a serious player who understood the importance of every micro movement, maybe... but that's not the case. They have always been much more fun to play than watch.

BUT! That doesn't mean we don't want a damn ranked system in online mode or other standard online options that basically every other fighting game has had since the internet era.
 
Last edited:
#10
marketing/advertising leading to insane amounts of hype + the wii selling more than four times as much as the gamecube in north america are probably bigger factors
So... you don't need a super hardcore gameplay to make people buy your game? My point.

It still shows Melee players don't really act so ungrateful and entitled whenever Sakurai does something to please them, considering they aren't the majority of Smash's fanbase.
 
#11
I think the community overall is just gonna have to accept that Nintendo is unlikely to ever go back to something as technical as Melee. I also think though that th direction they’re trying to go in now is at least better than brawl, it really seems like they’re at least trying to meet the competitive community halfway. They listened to the bulk of criticism towards brawl, and in both smash4 and ultimate, they tried making faster paced and toned down the massively defensive based gameplay of brawl, as well as being a bit more technical, and obviously removed random tripping.

This is also something I doubt is gonna change even if sakurai no longer works on the series, because It sounds more like a Nintendo of japan decision as well.
 
#12
I personally do want Smash to be just an esport. Melee is fun and all but it doesn't really allow for new or casual players to enjoy. If I want my girlfriend to play or even non-gamers they would rather play Brawl over Melee. Not to mention the other modes like items, single player games like classic and stadium, and crazy random levels are just as important to the gameplay as the game speeds.

And as a spectator I would rather watch something like Smosh Smash over no item tournament with only final destination stages.

 
#13
So... you don't need a super hardcore gameplay to make people buy your game? My point.

It still shows Melee players don't really act so ungrateful and entitled whenever Sakurai does something to please them, considering they aren't the majority of Smash's fanbase.
if Ultimate played exactly like Melee, I'd bet you money (if that's allowed, don't want to be too competitive) that it'd still outsell all the previous titles in the series over its lifetime
 
Last edited:
#14
if Ultimate played exactly like Melee, I'd bet you money (if that's allowed, don't want to be too competitive) that it'd still outsell all the previous titles in the series over its lifetime
Sure, and Melee would sell more if it had Brawl's physics but imaginary statistics doesn't prove anything.

Still doesn't explain why Melee players should be the ones deciding how Smash should be.

EDIT: Also, since Melee sold less, it means less fans Sakurai has to cater to. Ultimate shouldn't have it's whole gameplay designed to appeal a 17 year old game's fans who don't want to play something else.
 
Last edited:
#15
Sure, and Melee would sell more if it had Brawl's physics but imaginary statistics doesn't prove anything.

Still doesn't explain why Melee players should be the ones deciding how Smash should be.
on the note of imaginary statistics and assuming we know why games sell, how many people actually went out and bought brawl SPECIFICALLY because it was more casual? we actually didn't even know the full extent of how much more casual it was until we'd purchased it and spent hours playing it.

i'm just saying, i absolutely don't believe the skill ceiling of the game is a determining factor in sales, whether it be high or low - even the characters on the box are more of a determining factor, as well as the relative sales/health of the console the game represents.

so yeah, to reiterate: i'm not saying that if Ultimate were marketed as a "more competitive" game that it'd necessarily sell better, nor do i think it being tauted as a "happy medium" is deeply impacting potential sales for it. my belief that it's a far less relevant factor than star power and generated hype is what i'm using to support my argument that it may as well be a more competitive minded game, because i believe Sakurai is just genuinely wrong in arguing Melee's playstyle deters/deterred players.

Edit: Melee truly encapsulated "easy to pick up, tough to master"; and while this is anecdotal, I think it does matter: the most casual of casual players I've known in my time playing Smash couldn't even point out much of a difference between Melee and Brawl's playstyles. You might as well just make it leaning toward Melee in that case, for the best of both worlds. I never said it needs to be Melee 2.0
 
Last edited:
#16
on the note of imaginary statistics and assuming we know why games sell, how many people actually went out and bought brawl SPECIFICALLY because it was more casual? we actually didn't even know the full extent of how much more casual it was until we'd purchased it and spent hours playing it.

i'm just saying, i absolutely don't believe the skill ceiling of the game is a determining factor in sales, whether it be high or low - even the characters on the box are more of a determining factor, as well as the relative sales/health of the console the game represents.

so yeah, to reiterate: i'm not saying that if Ultimate were marketed as a "more competitive" game that it'd necessarily sell better, nor do i think it being tauted as a "happy medium" is deeply impacting potential sales for it. my belief that it's a far less relevant factor than star power and generated hype is what i'm using to support my argument that it may as well be a more competitive minded game, because i believe Sakurai is just genuinely wrong in arguing Melee's playstyle deters/deterred players
It IS a more competitive game than Smash For and Brawl and Melee's speed and gameplay DID scare off players, just like Brawl's slowness and randomness did.

I just don't understand why Melee players need Smash to stuck in it's design when it never stuck on others. Why newcomers had to have hard time in a game specifically designed with them in mind so that Melee players don't have to go out of their comfort zone?

I think Sakurai is genuinely right in trying to find a balance between competitive and casual. If you want competitive fighting games, there are enough. Or just Melee exists.
 
#18
Melee was only as “deep” as it was because it was a hastily developed, glitchy mess. Good on Sakurai for continuing to progress the series forward.
This isn’t true and you know it.

Sure Melee had several glitches and was pushed out pretty quick, but the bulk of what made it so deep were intentional mechanics and usage of the games natural physics not most of the glitches. You want a game that relied heavily on glitches to help squeeze any depth out of it, Look at brawl.
 
#19
And you know what it’s fine if the new one won’t be leaks melee cause it’s going still play good, going have all the characters, probably all the stage (screw reporters they talk out there ***,)

But what I’m getting at is if this was made by anyone else half the rosters from four would be cut And be sold as dlc same with stages.

We Really need to show some more love to the guy

Like screw you dr James rustles that’s getting to be ignorant
 
Last edited:
#20
Sakurai is an odd fellow, and in Ultimate he seems to be giving us we he thinks we want, but in more of a "here, now leave me alone" kind of way.

I'd love to see the series rebooted and headed up by someone else. Perhaps more involvement from Bamco. Ultimate looks great and I'm very hopeful about it, but it's definitely poised to be a final entry. I'd be all for a smaller roster where every character gets the level of respect and competitive intent into them as the third party DLC fighters did. Because in Ultimate, some characters are going to just get left behind. They don't seem to care about Palutena or Bowser Jr., for example.
 
#21
As a disabled player (with a chronic pain condition in both arms), I’m glad I can always rely on Nintendo prioritizing playability over technicality. I see the appeal of the the latter, and sympathize with players who want that level of depth, but I’m just happy I can actually play the games I love. I’ll never be able to play high tier melee, but I can keep up with the recent smash games.
 
#22
Lately I've been thinking about giving Melee another test run because it's been forever since I've played it. The problem with Melee for me, is that there really isn't anyone in my town that is good at smash. Even the ones that love Melee, they don't even use the features that make Melee unique and interesting (so bad that a few of them never even used shields.... Gave one Samus main a hard lesson with that, just by using samus as well and just standing still just shooting missiles/charge shot for a whole match and didn't get touched. He started shielding after that).

So in real life I can easily see why Sakurai wouldn't want to make it in-depth. Online however, it's a bit easier to run into people that are actually good, and matches with those people are the best. However, Nintendo does like to promote their consoles as in-person experiences. So I'm not surprised if they decided to make it easier. So I feel pretty lucky that they are making future Smash games as technical as they are.
 
#23
I can't even execute Smash attacks properly or recover half of the time in Melee. If you think Melee isn't too hard and all people wants its gameplay, then why Brawl and 3DS sold more? A majority of people play Smash because it is fun, not because it is an e-sport.

EDIT: If your favourite game is Melee, nice, but not every Smash game has to be Melee.
A smash attack in melee is exactly like a smash attack in every other smash game. press the control stick in the desire ditrection and a at the the same time or just push the c-stick. Simple as can be. Recovery is just as simple, you have a double jump and up b, use them accordingly to get back on stage. Smash is fundamentally an accessible game at it's core via it's ingenius use of simple button combos over the complex motions other fighters have, there's really no need to push for it to be "more casual" when nothing about a game that embodies the "simple to learn, hard to master" philosophy like this can prevent people from enjoying the game casually just because it can also be played competitively, the two aren't mutually exclusive realms that cannot exist in the same game you know. heck items, stages with silly gimmicks, and handicap options exist for this very reason.

We'll never get another melee and quite frankly if wavedashing ever came back it should be as a core mechanic with a simple button combination used to activate it rather than an obtuse "technique" for the sake of it. But i just hope smash ultimate doesn't restrict players nearly as much as smash 4 and gives us lots of fun, dynamic options and combo creativity that makes for another truly exciting and fast paced smash game like melee in a way but different.
Smash 4 was boring and frustrating to me both competitive and casually because it lacked any such explosive options and the fact that most characters revolved around one cookie cutter gimmick or set up to do anything meaningful most of the time along with the lack of freedom of movement just made the game very dull IMO.
 
Last edited:
#24
At this point it's clear that Sakurai will never ever understand that casual players don't care about how competitive a game is because they play it casually. Don't get me wrong though a character should never cause you physical pain just to play him at the tip top level. I wish Sakurai would bring back jumps carrying over your momentum and Melee's overall speed but I guess casuals wouldn't be able to throw Pokeballs and Bob-Ombs at each other as good or something.

Melee was only as “deep” as it was because it was a hastily developed, glitchy mess. Good on Sakurai for continuing to progress the series forward.
Yeah he went forward so fast after Melee that he tripped.
 
#25
Sure, and Melee would sell more if it had Brawl's physics but imaginary statistics doesn't prove anything.

Still doesn't explain why Melee players should be the ones deciding how Smash should be.

EDIT: Also, since Melee sold less, it means less fans Sakurai has to cater to. Ultimate shouldn't have it's whole gameplay designed to appeal a 17 year old game's fans who don't want to play something else.
I'm just hoping ultimate can meet casual and competitive smash fans in the middle.
 
#26
Sakurai continues to evolve with his players. He knows what's best and I'm really glad he's taking this approach. It draws a fine line between the casual pace of the Wii U with the intensity of Melee, but shifting even further to the latter with faster mechanics. Plus he's watching out for players with tendonitis. Bless him.

I can't even execute Smash attacks properly or recover half of the time in Melee. If you think Melee isn't too hard and all people wants its gameplay, then why Brawl and 3DS sold more? A majority of people play Smash because it is fun, not because it is an e-sport.

EDIT: If your favourite game is Melee, nice, but not every Smash game has to be Melee.
Watch out. You might trigger the Melee fans.
 
Last edited:
#27
I finally got to sit down and read the Washington Post article and I'm not sure if we are getting the full article here. I would hope that Sakurai said more than 5 sentences in this interview. Not to mention we don't know how accurate the translation is. Since they're known to misinterpret English interviews it wouldn't put it pass me that they took what he said and blew it out of context to make sound more controversial.

I'm willing to bet that what Sakurai's intentions were that he is working on it to be more competitive (we see this in the character trailers with the intricate combos) but its not going to be melee. Because it is more than some esports game like Call of Duty or Rocket League. Its a party game, its a social game, its made for everyone. Nintendo has made it clear that they cater to the casual market and they do that better than Xbox or Playstation. So to make Smash Bros into a full esport really does drive away a lot of the target audience that Nintendo aims for. They want to make Smash Bros into a competitive Esport but they're not going to sacrifice the casual play over it. But that's me jut filling in the blanks.
 
#29
Sakurai continues to evolve with his players. He knows what's best and I'm really glad he's taking this approach. It draws a fine line between the casual pace of the Wii U with the intensity of Melee, but shifting even further to the latter with faster mechanics. Plus he's watching out for players with tendonitis. Bless him.



Watch out. You might trigger the Melee fans.
I already did. Look at all these comments crying in rage because people like to play other games too, and Sakurai keeps them in mind.

Anyway, at this point, I'm convinced no other game than Melee will satisfy its fans, but I wish they'd stop complaining. Smash For barely had any good single player content and Ultimate seems to be even more competitive. But Melee fans are still victims, go figure.

EDIT: To all, claiming Melee was easy to pick, just google "Melee is too fast/difficult".
 
Last edited:
#30
I think the community overall is just gonna have to accept that Nintendo is unlikely to ever go back to something as technical as Melee. I also think though that th direction they’re trying to go in now is at least better than brawl, it really seems like they’re at least trying to meet the competitive community halfway. They listened to the bulk of criticism towards brawl, and in both smash4 and ultimate, they tried making faster paced and toned down the massively defensive based gameplay of brawl, as well as being a bit more technical, and obviously removed random tripping.

This is also something I doubt is gonna change even if sakurai no longer works on the series, because It sounds more like a Nintendo of japan decision as well.
Yes, they listened to the bulk of the feedback, tried to meet the competitive community halfway, and it STILL isn't enough.

Melee fan boys will never be happy with another game.
 
#31
I already did. Look at all these comments crying in rage because people like to play other games too, and Sakurai keeps them in mind.

Anyway, at this point, I'm convinced no other game than Melee will satisfy its fans, but I wish they'd stop complaining. Smash For barely had any good single player content and Ultimate seems to be even more competitive. But Melee fans are still victims, go figure.

EDIT: To all, claiming Melee was easy to pick, just google "Melee is too fast/difficult".
If it was easy enough to pick up as a kid who sucked at videogames it's really not that titanic of a task unless you're trying to play at a high level for competitive play.(which most results tend to refer to here). Keep in mind most melee fans enjpoyed the game before they even knew about a competitive scene or any of the tech. Your logic is also flawed in regards to single player content considering that melee also had a plethora of fondly remembered single player content such as adventure mode(which i really hop returns because it was blast going through all the different nintendo worlds there!), break the targets, board the platforms, actually uniqe event matches, etc. Fan projects like project m even brought their own new modse! So claiming fans of that game are to blame for a lack of singleplayer content couldn't be farther from the truth.
 
Last edited:
#32
If it was easy enough to pick up as a kid who sucked at videogames it's really not that titanic of a task unless you're trying to play at a high level for competitive play.(which most results tend to refer to here). Keep in mind most melee fans enjpoyed the game before they even knew about a competitive scene or any of the tech. Your logic is also flawed in regards to single player content considering that melee also had a plethora of fondly remembered single player content such as adventure mode(which i really hop returns because it was blast going through all the different nintendo worlds there!), break the targets, board the platforms, actually uniqe event matches, etc. Fan projects like project m even brought their own new modse! So claiming fans of that game are to blame for a lack of singleplayer content couldn't be farther from the truth.
This was only tangentinally related to my point but whatever.

My point is: Melee was one game. There won't be another one.Melee fans literally have no reason to complain about how new games sucks and how Sakurai's vision is faulted because new fans likes them.

If you think Melee is the apex of the Smash, than keep playing it forever and leave new games alone.
 
#33
I sincerely don't care anymore for years, I have PM.
PM is everything, it would never die, it will burry Smash4 and ulitmate and smash6.
One day PM Nationals will have more than EVO entrance numbers.
I only need pm.
 
#34
I hate to say it so bluntly, he's right. Focusing too much on any subsection of your audience is a bad idea when making a game that's suppised to be approachable to everyone.

That doesn't just go for the hardcore audience either. I think it's clear based on the changes we've seen in Ultimate that Sakurai is trying to find a balance that works not only for the more casual players, but for more competitive players as well.

We have a much faster engine in Ultimate than in Smash 4, combos are easier to perform, we've been given a directional air dodge so we have more options, dodging too often is more punishable (Smash 4 was much more skewed towards defensive play), we now have been given a Perfect Shield mechanic that encourages offense and discourages overuse (since the shield still takes damage when you perfect shield now, it's effectively just a parry), ending lag on attacks has been reduced to the point that it almost feels like characters are automatically l-canceling, and we have minor changes that obviously are meant for competitive players, namely choosing a stage before a character, having a vs screen before battles, showing the stock count after a player dies, and having a dramatic effect on powerful moves that could KO an opponent.

I know that's a long list of changes, but that's exactly what I'm trying to emphasize. Sakurai is trying to cater to all parts of the fanbase here, he's just not willing to make a game that requires so many inputs per second that it might lead to hand injuries. He isn't going to budge on that.

Remember, the reason this man made Smash Bros. is similar to why he made Kirby. Fighter games of his time were too difficult to be accessable to all players (just like platformers of the time were difficult for some players), and he wanted to make a game that had a lower skill floor.

Lastly, I want to emphasize that the last thing Sakurai wants is to be accountable for people's hand injuries, because he had(/has?) injuries like that. The man is still pouring his soul out into his game, and he's doing what he can to make the game competitive with that in mind.
 
Last edited:
#36
No matter how Sakurai makes Super Smash Bros., it'll end up being played competitively. Just look at Brawl. I don't know what Sakurai and his team were thinking when they made that game, but despite it being the worst of the series, people still made tourneys for it. I highly doubt Melee was meant to be played competitively in Sakurai's eyes, but people found exploits and glitches that they could use to create a new way to fight. I played Melee casually for a long while until I found out about people playing it at a higher level. I didn't know the techniques, but I learned the important ones, and really, they weren't that difficult, unless you're learning to maybe Shine across the stage or something. I gave up on Melee, because Brawl came out. Then I went back to Melee. After Sm4sh, I gave up on Melee and went straight to Sm4sh, because Melee is dated. Plus, the hype over that old game has gotten annoying. Those who developed tendinitis used their GameCube controllers in a way you're not supposed to. I never got tendinitis or any sort of hand injuries from Melee, so that statement is a cop-out.
 
#37
As much as I dislike agreeing with him, he's just saying that particular statement he quoted is redundant. Nothing ignorant about it.
While yes that comment doesn’t bring anything to the table, I don’t think the point of it was wrong

But yeah maybe I went a bit far was having a bad day and was looking to call something out
 
Last edited:
#38
This isn’t true and you know it.

Sure Melee had several glitches and was pushed out pretty quick, but the bulk of what made it so deep were intentional mechanics and usage of the games natural physics not most of the glitches. You want a game that relied heavily on glitches to help squeeze any depth out of it, Look at brawl.
It is true. You know why there’s no other Smash game like Melee? Because the rest are polished and not rushed out. It’s pretty simple to understand.
 
#39
I sincerely don't care anymore for years, I have PM.
PM is everything, it would never die, it will burry Smash4 and ulitmate and smash6.
One day PM Nationals will have more than EVO entrance numbers.
I only need pm.
I wish you were right since PM IMO is the best smash despite being unofficial with it combining everthing great about the new and old games and with actually well thought out movesets that combined both substances and fanservice for each character but.. PM is pretty much dead in several places, especially since quite a few melee fans are too stubborn and elitist at times to try it or see it's value as the closest thing we'll ever get to a successor to melee, smash 4 fans looking down on it for being a mod, and the fact that it's an unofficial fan mod leaves it in a difficult/hard to approach spot for the community due to those who run majors often being understandably hesitant and fearful of running into legal issues and such if tehy put it in the forefront.

That said ultimate at least looks promising on several ends so far.
 
Last edited:
#40
It is true. You know why there’s no other Smash game like Melee? Because the rest are polished and not rushed out. It’s pretty simple to understand.
I don't know how you can call brawl more polished with it's janky physics and even more prevalent glitches(infinite dimensional cape, several characters having infinite chain grabs, diddy's banana glitch, mechanics that actively punish the person who goes on the offensive, etc)
 
Top