Super Smash Bros. is one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises, and has sold millions of copies over the decades. Its popularity has resulted in an active and vibrant competitive scene, but it’s one that has so far struggled to gain parity with other titles in the realm of eSports, such as Fortnite and Overwatch. As we’ve covered more than once in the past on this very site, that’s because Nintendo isn’t supporting the Smash Bros. scene in the same way that other companies do with their titles.
Speaking after his success at the recent Smash Summit 9, Juan “HungryBox” DeBiedma – one of the world’s leading Smash players – took the opportunity to call Nintendo out on its lack of support for the scene:
I know this is probably a shot in the dark, but I’m going to try anyway because there’s a lot of people watching. I really do wish, if anyone from Nintendo corporate is watching this right now, if anyone is seeing the amount of excitement these sets can get, and everything that goes with it: just give Melee a chance. Even if it’s just Ultimate, support the Ultimate scene, support the Smash scene in general.
You have people, day in and day out, streaming content, competing, going to tournaments, and we do all it all grass-roots. We have this Summit because they raised money, and that’s great, but Nintendo, I need to say, I love you guys, but you are the only one not putting in resources into the scene. Look at Capcom; look at that celebration. Look at every other game, look at Fortnite.
This is the step that you’re missing, and if you did that, the culture, the appreciation that you guys would receive would be, bar none, unlike anything you have received. So, hope you’re listening, it’s probably a shot in the dark, but please, support Smash Tournaments.
While Nintendo has held competitive events for Smash games in the past, they usually fall within the company’s marketing plan for each title, and series head Masahiro Sakurai has previously said that he isn’t keen on the ethos of eSports:
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…it comes to a point where they’re playing the game for the money, and I feel that kind of direction doesn’t coincide with Nintendo’s view of what games should be.
Esports, in which players compete on stage for prize money as an audience watches, demonstrates one of the wonderful charms of video games. It’s not that we’re opposed to it. So that our games can be widely enjoyed by anyone regardless of experience, gender, or age, we want to be able to participate in a wide range of different events. Our strength, what differentiates us from other companies, is this different worldview, not an amount of prize money.
It’s worth noting that Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, the winner of the 2019 Fortnite World Cup, bagged a staggering $3 million for his achievement, while the player who ranked 20th in that event still walked away with over $100,000. In comparison, DeBiedma won $29,315.30 at Smash Summit 5 in November 2017, which still stands as the record for the most money won in a single Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament.