Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai is an enigmatic figure in the gaming industry. When he elects to weigh in on his games or those made by others, his statements tend to stir up emotion in the community. This time, Sakurai talks about how he dislikes the way DLC is made and sold today, and how he, his team and Nintendo aim to remedy that with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.
All of this comes from his latest article in Famitsu, the Japanese gaming magazine. The article was translated by “Masked Man” on Source Gaming, and kudos to them for taking the time to do it.
Sakurai talks a bit about the success of Smash and the hard work he and his team pushed out to make it good. He then moves on to talk about DLC, and he calls out other game makers in the process.
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.
Us too, Sakurai. He continues.
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.
But that’s not what Nintendo and HAL Laboratory is doing with Smash (or “Sm4sh” as he calls it in the article). They didn’t hold any characters back for the launch of the game, though he admits that could have been incredibly easy.
Instead, they started work on Mewtwo and Lucas after Smash was out. We’re roughly half a year post-Smash launch, and we only now have the first DLC character. They’re clearly taking their time, even though Sakurai admits that this is likely hurting sales.
Why continue? Sakurai talks about how they want to keep excitement for Smash going.
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.
I can get behind this. Sure, it might mean that I’m waiting longer and longer to see characters and modes (he talks about how they’re working on modes, by the way) come to the game, but I’d rather have that than be nickel and dimed by an intentionally incomplete game at launch.
What do you think? Is Sakurai’s model a good one? Or, are he and Nintendo sacrificing too much potential profit?