Hello all! Dustin invited me to write for this little site. How could I refuse!? As an accountant and future CPA, I’ll try to look at some stuff from a business/economic standpoint. It’ll be a slightly different flavor than some of the other articles here. I hope you all enjoy!!
Recently, Nintendo dropped the bombshell that they will support Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS with DLC characters and more. There is even a character poll. Like Dustin and the others, I wanted to take some time to discuss my predictions about characters and what not.
One thing to note is Sakurai may take a slightly different approach than he did with choosing the characters in the final retail version. The ballot implies that popularity is a significant factor in chosing characters; however, it will likely not be the sole factor. Besides the obvious troll choices, some characters may be popular in one region but not in the rest of the world or even unknown in some parts of the world. There will be a regional skew in the results due to the traditional fact that the US is the largest consumer of the Smash Brothers series and will also be the region most vocal about their choices for characters.
The characters who will most likely get added are veteran characters. From the Megapoll , the top four characters were veterans from Super Smash Brothers Brawl (Brawl). This is also great from Sakurai and Nintendo’s standpoint as these characters are easier to design by being able to use data from the previous game. The most likely of the Brawl veterans is Wolf. Besides being one of the most popular choices, there is also a new Starfox game coming out. The new game will make it an easier sell the character to players and give Nintendo an opportunity to bundle Wolf with the game, increasing customer loyalty, if not sales.
In the same vein, Snake and Ice Climbers are likely characters as well; however, these characters have unique issues with including them. The Ice Climbers, for one, have trouble working on the 3DS version. This issue can be alleviated by making the characters exclusive to the New 3DSs. With the nature of DLC, fans wont be missing out if the character is exclusive to the new system as DLC is an added service. By having a normal 3DS, you simply won’t be able to pay money and get the character rather than with the retail version where you will simply be down a character compared to the retail release of the Wii U version. On the other hand, they will still be exclusive to a system, something Sakurai has indicated he doesn’t want that to happen. Moreover, there remains the question of how to address people using the character online and playing with people who have a regular 3DS. Snake’s issue is he is a third party character and Nintendo doesn’t control the character like they do for the other characters mentioned earlier. This means Nintendo will have to go through more legal work as well as abiding by Konami’s rules when using the character. Nintendo’s revenue may also be reduced as Konami will likely demand royalties from the sale to use this character. Since Nintendo is doing DLC to increase profits, the cost of making and promoting Snake may outweigh the benefit of the revenue on Snake. Also, Kojima has less control over the character, if any at all, which may make it harder to use Snake since it was a major reason for his inclusion in Brawl. Still, Snake may be included because, like Lucas, he inclusion is demand and there would be less development adding him over other characters.
To elaborate on third parties further, I don’t expect there will be many, if any, new third party characters for the reasons I mentioned above. Where Snake is easy to develop as the team can use his data from Brawl, all other characters will have to be made from scratch. There is an increased opportunity cost in doing third party characters as they will require as much development time as a new character but require more legal work and negotiations and the return, revenue, would be less than another Nintendo character. As such, I don’t expect another third party character besides Snake, unless they dominate the poll. I know Rayman and Shovel Knight are two characters that will be popular, but I do not expect they will be added. Besides the issue I noted above, there characters may not be recognizable on a world wide basis. Based on the mega poll and other research into the Japanese fanbase, Rayman is not well known in Japan, as he received only three votes on the Megapoll from participants from Japan. Likewise, Shovel Knight is not known in Japan as the game has not been released over there. Nintendo would likely not go through the legal efforts to make a character wont sell in Japan. The one third party characters I think might get in is Bayonetta because she doesn’t suffer from the same problems as the other two and is still a popular character in her own right. Platinum may also be more willing to work with Nintendo on sharing profits than a large publisher would be; furthermore, Nintendo published Bayonetta 2 when no other publisher would. Although I think her chances are still remote, I think there is a possibility she could be a download-able character.
Now, one character I fully expect to happen is Inkling from Splatoon. I fully expect Inklings are very popular among Nintendo fans given the sheer excitement for Splatoon. Furthermore, Nintendo is trying to promote the game and and there is no better way to do that than including them in Smash. Another character that is very popular is King K Rool. The MegaPoll as well as survey about who respondent voted for in the Smash Ballot show that fans are putting their hat in for King K Rool. There is also has been demand for a Donkey Kong character for some time. As fans have identified, Donkey Kong is one of Nintendo’s best selling series while having fewer characters than other series that has sold significantly less. Likewise, Dixie Kong may also have a good chance as well due to her popularity and the demand for a Donkey Kong character. Another character that will be included is Captain Toad. Like Inklings, while this character is not as popular among Smash Brothers fans, the characters would be more popular with the whole of Nintendo fans.
Two characters that I think wont be included, but are still honorable mentions, are Issac and Wonder Red. Issac, in particular, has been popular for some time. I also expect Wonder Red will do well as fans of his game and 4chan will push for him in the ballot. However, in the past, Sakurai has been reluctant in adding characters from second party developers, where Nintendo owns the intellectual property but is developed by an outside company. Much like third parties, Nintendo also has less influence on these companies and their cooperation in development. Another issue is these series are not as popular as other. Golden Sun has fallen on hard times since the release of Dark Dawn, and Wonderful 101 was essentially a flop. Also, these characters will be very popular among fans who voted for them but my not be among those who didn’t. They are somewhat polarized by passion and indifference, and the opportunity cost may be higher than a new character from a well known Nintendo game or a classic character that a lot of players know and recognize.
Nevertheless, one of the major issues with adding new characters into Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS is that a lot of popular characters became assist trophies. Characters like Waluigi, Isabelle, and Minda were added as assist trophies because while they were popular, they weren’t capable enough on their own to be playable characters or there were better choices to add given limited time and resources. As such, to compensate, some of these characters have become assist trophies. It may be hard to add these characters as DLC because you would have to go back and change the feature, the characters as assist trophies, which would reduce the content for consumers who bought the retail release and didn’t buy the DLC. As such, I expect a lot of the new characters were ones there were introduced since the release of Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS at E3 2013. Likewise, with the poll ending in October, there will likely be a lot of request for characters from Xenoblade Chronicals, Fire Emblem If, and characters from any new games shown at E3.
In total, I expect there will be 4 to 6 additional characters. I do not expect less than 4 new DLC characters. Because Nintendo is releasing a ballot for new characters, it wouldn’t make sense to go through the trouble of setting up the poll and then reading, and possibly responding, to request for only a few more characters. On the other hand, Sakurai and his team can not make hundreds of characters . As such, a total of 8 characters (including Lucas and Mewtwo), would be reasonable and would not over burdens fans or Sakurai and his team with more and more content. I expect new content will be released until mid 2016. With about 1 character released every 2 months, this coincides with the 4 to 6 additional characters I mentioned above.
In addition to new characters, there will likely be other forms of DLC as well. We already know of the tournament mode, the Miiverse stage, and new costumes. There may be other stages released as well, especially if new series are added. However, one issue with new stages is that any new stage will need to be either on both versions or multiple stages, ones for each system, will need to be developed. Stages are also more likely to be free DLC rather than paid, but it may not always be the case. Also, like characters, a lot of the additional stages, if done, will be ones from past games as they require the least amount of work. There may also be new game modes as well though I don’t expect this to happen for some time.
Costumes are also a big focus for DLC in Smash. One of the major issues will be how often players actually use Miis. More use of Miis means more money is spent on the costumes. I expect Nintendo will do two things down the road. First, they will add another Mii Fighter class to add more variety to the character. I expect this will be a free download as Nintendo’s intent is to get you to buy the costumes. The other is they may attempt to expand how Miis are used online. One of the biggest barriers to the Miis is you can’t use them online with Anyone. If you can’t use them online, players will likely ignore them. As a result, the characters will fall to the way side and DLC costumes will not be purchased. Alleviating this issue will encourage players to use these characters and perhaps purchase the costumes. Lastly, I expect there will be Starfox costumes that will be shown off with Wolf. Furthermore, I expect Fire Emblem will the next cross over for costumes.
I want to close with the characters that I personally want. Wolf is, by far, my most wanted character. Outside of him and other veteran characters, I do want Inklings and a Donkey Kong character, although I would rather have Dixie Kong over King K Rool. Another character I want, which I don’t think will happen, is Henry Fleming from Codename STEAM. I don’t think the game is very popular, but I love the game and I like his personality of the game. Plus, the steam mechanic from that game could make for an interesting playstyle for him. I also want a Rhythm Heaven character though it will be a harder sell since there is no firm character in the series and the series is not popular in the west. Besides this, I’d like to see a Zelda character of some kind. I feel like this series gets ignored when compared to Pokemon and Mario.
I’m really excited for the inclusion of more DLC and can’t wait to see what happens. Also, I expect Sakurai will start replying to suggestions similar to what was done during Brawl. I hope you enjoyed reading this!! Let me know what you think in the comment section below.