Nintendo has long been hostile towards the hardcore competitive scene that formed around of one of its most successful franchises: Smash Bros. The company worried that casual players would be turned off by the hardcore crowd, and seemed to do everything it could to shun the competitive scene. With the latest reboot of the series, however, Nintendo appears to reversing course.
The company will host its first ever Smash Bros. tournament during E3, which runs June 10-12 at the Nokia Theater in LA.
The event is purely promotional, intended to build hype around Smash Bros. But it’s also likely Nintendo’s attempt to finally embrace the hardcore Smash Bros. competitive scene. Why? It needs them.
Smash Bros., arguably the Wii U’s killer app, is poised to release in winter of this year. And Nintendo needs that launch to be incredibly successful launch, or the Wii U will be in big trouble. The company has had immense difficulty pushing the console to homes as consumers aren’t as enamored with the system as they were with the original Wii.
The casual audience that Nintendo once relied on has moved on to phone and tablet gaming. So the company is now hedging its bets on the hardcore, hoping that strong first party offerings, like Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros., will be enough to entice gamers to buy their tablet-controller-clad system.
It’s also a massive departure for Nintendo themselves. After shying away from the tournament scene for decades, it seems Nintendo is finally harkening back to the days NES and the Nintendo World Championships of 1990. The tournament had players compete against each other in bouts of Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris to see who was the best in North America.
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) April 29, 2014
Nintendo teamed up with funny team Mega64 to produce a promotional video advertising the event.