With an enthusiastic and vocal base of hardcore fans, Super Smash Bros. has a passionate tournament scene which has grown ever since the original game back on Nintendo 64. While Nintendo has been embracing that community more and more in recent times, it is trying to balance its approach between them and more casual newcomers. The latest game has brought in a new wave of fans which Nintendo is eager to entertain and the company has been hosting official Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournaments that differ somewhat from the high-level competitive bouts.
In an interview with Kotaku, senior product marketing manager and Nintendo Treehouse veteran Bill Trinen has discussed the company's approach to competitive Smash and the ways in which it differs from the stringent rulesets of the established scene; the use of items, for example, which are usually toggled off in the pro community due to the randomness they introduce.
Obviously with something like Smash, there are already a ton of tournaments out there. We’re trying to find ways to make it easier for people who are everyday Smash players to get a taste of participating in tournaments... We want to keep the grassroots base community healthy and sustainable and the way we want to do that is to bring in fresh blood.
Items introduce an element of 'luck' and can certainly give struggling players a chance to get back in the game. Despite embracing luminaries of the pro community, Trinen says Nintendo is also keen to give newcomers a chance.
We don’t view ourselves as really even now dipping our toe into esports. I think our approach is less of one of competition and it’s really more about the competitive fun
We don’t want to compete with the competitive scene. We’re using items on partially to differentiate from what the competitive scene is doing and partially to make it easier for a more casual audience to approach.
The upcoming Super Smash Bros. Ultimate World Championship at E3 on Saturday 8th June is the next tournament, the culmination of a series of events from across the globe. It seems Nintendo is keen to bridge the divide between the casual and pro communities, but that's a tough proposition.
Still, it's pleasant to see the company engaging with the dedicated and passionate fans of its game after years of silence that came off as dismissal. Be sure to check out the Kotaku article for more from Bill Trinen on the subject.