It wasn't so long ago that Masahiro Sakurai was musing on his future with Super Smash Bros. and prompting fans to worry, sounding rather worn down and contemplating stepping away from the franchise. It seems that the last few months and a switch up in development - to focusing on DLC - has lightened Sakurai-san's mood, however.
A full translation of Sakurai-san's latest Famitsu article - hat tip to Masked Man and PushDustin - makes interesting reading, especially for the generally upbeat tone. The topic is DLC for Super Smash Bros., but also in the wider industry, with the series creator typically forthright in his views. In the following excerpt he characterises some DLC trends, before explaining the focus on the Smash Bros. content being genuine post-launch extras, developed only after the full game was completed.
These days, the "DLC scam" has become quite the epidemic, charging customers extra money to complete what was essentially an unfinished product. I completely understand how aggravated players must feel. After all, a game should be 100% at the time of release, and I would be livid if it were split up and sold in pieces.
Why, then, do you think so many titles provide premium DLC on or shortly following a game's release? It's because that's the easiest way to make money.
After all, if you wait too long after a game's release to distribute additional content, players will already move on to the next title. Even long tail titles–that is, ones that perform consistently well over an extended period of time – make more money the earlier they come out.
The same goes for Sm4sh. We could have easily reserved a few characters on the current roster and later sold them as premium DLC. A considerable amount of work went into development, and the game would have already featured a ton of content. Plus, if you were looking to make a profit, DLC would be the way to go. Development is more costly than ever, yet the price of games has remained the same, so more income would help offset that imbalance.
However, the DLC we are releasing for Sm4sh is authentic, developed only after we finished working on the main game. Of course, said content will come to you at a premium as compensation for the work put into developing additional content post-production. Nintendo has the final say on the price, but given the number of man-hours spent on the creation of this DLC, I'd say it's a great deal.
Sakurai-san goes on to explain that the development team is now smaller, but highlights his excitement to be working on the extra content. It seems that the tighter group and limited focus on specific DLC extras has improved the game creator's general mood around the project.
Moreover, we decided to release other characters as well because part of the fun of Smash is the anticipation: "Which character will join the fray next!?" If we keep distributing content, we can maintain that excitement, and I think that's a really great thing.
Our team may have shrunk in size, but I'm still just as excited as ever to be pouring my heart and soul into my work every day. Given the different types of content we're producing, it wouldn't be surprising for the planning of one item to coincide with the development, balancing, and finalization of several others. We also have version updates, online features, and additional modes to worry about. It can be quite overwhelming, but it's all about making players happy.
Fighters take an incredible amount of work to develop, so I don't think we'll be able to produce that many. Part of me would also love to finish up the project and finally enjoy some rest and relaxation. That said, we've already begun development, so I would like to provide as much additional fun and excitement as possible from here on out. We'll continue working for a little while longer, so please stay tuned!
Though Sakurai-san is clearly still relishing having a break soon, this is certainly a positive outlook, suggesting he's happy not only to be producing this content but also with the way it's being distributed and shared.
Let us know what you think of these comments from Sakurai-san around DLC for Super Smash Bros.
Thanks to Joseph for the heads up.