Competitive gaming has grown rapidly over the last decade, reshaping the video game industry in a major way. A big part of that success comes from publishers endorsing the competitive community. It took Nintendo a very long time to acknowledge the competitive side of the Super Smash Bros. fanbase, but the company has made small strides to bolster the growing community of competitive Smash players. Unfortunately, those who wish to make a living playing the game won't find it to be very lucrative. That's because Nintendo has no plans to offer prize money for Smash tournaments in the same way companies like Riot Games does with League of Legends. In an interview with outlet Nikkei (translated by Kotaku), Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa was asked about the prospect.
“Esports, in which players compete on stage for prize money as an audience watches, demonstrates one of the wonderful charms of video games,” said Furukawa. “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 very much a classic Nintendo response. While the company has broadened their perspective in a variety of ways over the last few years, it makes sense that they would still remain hesitant to embrace esports. Nintendo has always been very careful about protecting their brand and making sure it appeals to the widest variety of players. While esports continue to reach new audiences, the competitive gaming scene is still an intimidating thing for new audiences to learn about and get into. Nintendo wanting to keep Super Smash Bros. from coming across inaccessible is perfectly understandable, even if it doesn't win them a lot of fans in the competitive gaming scene, as a result.
At the end of the day, Nintendo has always been slow to adjust to new developments in the industry. They think they know the best way to do things and it tends to work out pretty well for them, typically. Time will tell if they eventually decide to shift course. After all, a few years ago, no one could have predicted that they would allow independent developers to create games that feature their characters. Perhaps Nintendo is just looking for the best way to make the esports thing work for them. Strangers things have certainly happened!
Do you want to see the Smash Bros. competitive scene grow? Or would that make the game seem inaccessible to new players? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.