Nintendo has never been very keen on supporting esport competitions that come out of its game outside of a few tournament series with the Splatoon franchise and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and it doesn’t look like that stance is going to change anytime soon.
In the final part of an interview with Japanese financial publication Nikkei, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa said that the company would continue planning its games around mass appeal and not letting the competitive aspect impact production.
Though, even if he doesn’t view esports as something that Nintendo should focus on, Furukawa does acknowledge that it is something that many players enjoy.
“Esports is where players compete on stage while also revolving around prize money, and spectators enjoy watching that,” Furukawa said. “It launched one of the amazing appeals of video games. But there is no sense of antagonism.”
That last bit of the quote might not translate very well to English, but Furukawa essentially means that there is no reason for the company to focus on it.
“In order to make our company’s games be played by a broad range of people, regardless of experience, gender, or generation, we also want to make our events joinable by a broad range of people,” Furukawa said. “Being able to have a different world view from other companies – without a large sum of prize money – is our strength.”
Nintendo is known for making fun games that are accessible to everyone, which is exactly what Furukawa wants to continue pushing for. There has always been the feeling that most of Nintendo’s upper management would rather ignore the competitive scene and just continue making games that appeal to the broadest demographic possible.
This hurts the viability of competitive scenes for games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate because they have to be completely supported by the community and third-party sponsors. Meanwhile, Capcom and Bandai Namco sponsor, host, and pay directly into the prize pools for most Major events while also backing the games with full support.
It makes sense for Nintendo, who was against Smash becoming an esport from day one and actively tried to prevent the Melee scene from expanding several times, to stand its ground, but it hurts even more considering the hope many had regarding Ultimate.
Furukawa’s comments basically stomp out the last embers of hope many had for a Capcom Cup-like event for Smash and will force the community to keep supporting itself without aid from the publisher outside of one or two events per year.