Games develop over a long period of time. A community must explore the different areas that assure the game gets to fulfill its potential. However, many factors swing the tides in the blink of an eye. To make sure a game lives long enough to become a powerhouse, it needs a lot of work, especially in areas that determine the game’s longevity. The best game in the world has the potential to fail if it doesn’t build a stable community.
A great example is Super Smash Bros. Brawl. From the start, its scene was destined to die. The massive Melee community that had spawned in previous years rejected the game. Its pace was slow, consequently making the game harder to watch. At the start, Brawl’s community rallied with hype. On the first look, it brought a lot to the table. The number of new characters was ridiculous, and everything looked fresh with new graphics. However, when it was time to deliver with exciting, varied gameplay, the game faltered. The community still tried to create an excellent competitive environment, but the game just wasn’t built for it.
Ultimate is the highest quality entry in the Smash Bros. series yet and it deserves to have a fantastic run. Its predecessor, Smash 4, did a lot of things right, but in the end, it shot itself in the foot. The game managed to pick up some steam and establish a solid community, however after questionable additions, it started to lose momentum in the months before Ultimate’s release.
Gaining exposure should be a top priority for any competitive game. Once it hits the mainstream, it’s tough to end its career. Respawn provides an excellent example in their most recent game, Apex Legends. At the start of its life, EA paid popular streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins $1,000,000 to stream the game. That exposure aided Respawn in skyrocketing the game’s popularity getting it to achieve over 50 million players in just one month.
Smash needs a different angle. As a fighting game, its exposition should come through the highest levels of competition. Tournaments should come at a moderate, yet steady pace and feature a different variety of players. Too many results coming too quickly, all of which come from the same few players results in audiences’ tournament fatigue that consequently makes viewers lose interest in watching the game.
Ideally, Nintendo would sponsor tournaments. Getting a real flow of cash in Smash should aid its exposure. That way, players could have the option of making a living off the game. As a result, there should be even crazier things happening in tournaments. Players would get the space to experiment with crazy tech and dedicate insane amounts to developing their play — all of this resulting in what could be the highest quality tournaments the scene has ever beheld.
The perfect scene features an organized Smash circuit with the world’s top players. There, Smash would push its limits, having more competing players than ever before.
A solid game has a plotline. Its tournaments create rivalries, spawn controversies and spark talk through the community. They also provide viewers key moments. These moments end up being treasured by fans and competitors alike.
Melee has built a wide variety of these. Its community takes the game very seriously, resulting in the birth of the Melee gods. Adam “Armada” Lindgren’s dominant streak with Peach. Kevin “PPMD” Nanney’s sudden retirement. These are some of the long lists of moments that have kept viewers engaged throughout the years.
In Smash 4, there was Civil War and Leonardo “MKLeo” Perez’s rise to the top. These moments give viewers a reason to be excited – a right to keep watching their favorite players slap each other through battle. This collection of emotions cements a community, lengthening the game’s lifespan.
Growing stale is a game’s worst nightmare. When it happens, the game’s player and viewers equally lose their enthusiasm for the game. A great example of this is seen in how Smash 4 winded down. Bayonetta flooded tournaments and became too dominant. Taking this into consideration, viewers felt frustrated because of the lack of variety in high-level competitive play.
In this case, it wasn’t Smash 4’s fault. However, it still had to suffer for its developer’s mistakes. One character dominated the metagame and blinded the community from seeing past its dominance. All that fatigue made the game lose momentum and stop on its tracks.
A great example of what experimentation provides is seen in Melee. Instead of settling on a standard way of play, its community pushed past many walls and discovered a lot of techniques that hid in the shadows. Melee’s ruleset also shifted many times. At one point, a stage like Poke Floats was legal. In the present, that sounds crazy, yet players still argued its case before it got removed off the competitive lineup.
In Smash Ultimate, the players are both cursed and blessed with the sheer quantity of options available to them. A hazard switch adds many stages in the legality conversation and creating a great ruleset should come out of a lot of experimentation. Experimenting with stage legality brings with it figuring out the banning process and other rulesets for tournaments. Nothing should be discarded without testing. This way, the game gets the ability to grow without restraints.