Icons Could Be the Esport Smash Bros Never Was

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Fighting games are quickly climbing the ranks in the esports industry. sports organizations like echo fox continue to expand their fighting playlists. This year, Dragon Ball Fighter Z had the most successful start of a fighting game in history. street fighter tekken 7, and injustice 2 all have developer assisted professional circuits.

Despite all the growth and dedication from teams and publishers, the Super Smash Bros. Series still remains an exception as there are no official esports initiatives from its developer Nintendo. With smash immense popularity and commercial success—Super Smash Bros. for Wii U sold 5.34 million copies as of March 2018– The lack of an official esports program is a missed opportunity for both the developer and the competitive community.

Now an independent studio is trying to capitalize on the void left by Nintendo’s absence. Wavedash Games is currently developing a game in the style of Super Smash Bros. called Symbols: battle arena. The studio has risen $6 million in funding, and aims to create an “esports-ready” platformer for the modern esports industry. If successful, the game could quickly become one of the biggest esports fighting games.

Smash History Lesson

To understand the potential of symbolsit is important to understand smashed esports scene. Currently two titles in the smashed Franchises have active esports communities with players signed by major organizations –Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (also known as smash 4). In most fighting games, all pro players simply switch to the latest iteration. Smash is the only franchise with two thriving esports scenes, and it’s largely Nintendo’s fault.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]When melee Launched on the Nintendo Gamecube, it quickly became the most technically challenging fighting game in history. [/perfectpullquote]

When melee Launched on the Nintendo Gamecube, it quickly became the most technically challenging fighting game in history. Competing at the highest level requires a staggering number of inputs per second. The competitive community grew, and players drove across the United States to compete in tournaments. When Super Smash Bros. Brawl was announced for the Wii, melee Players were ready to push their scene further by adopting a modern version with more characters and updated graphics. unfortunately, brawl removes every mechanic that has made melee fast and technically demanding. The game had modern graphics and a larger roster of characters, but it wasn’t for many players melee update they expected.

While brawl found a competitive audience, experienced melee Unable to find satisfaction in the slower gameplay, players rebelled against convention. Instead of moving on to the latest iteration of their franchise, the melee Community returned to the older game. 15 years after its launch melee remains a popular esport, with major tournaments regularly drawing more than 70,000 viewers Pull out . While many games have tried to keep up smashed in the platform fighter genre just called a small pixel art indie game rivals of the ether came close to agreement melee‘s speed and technique.

Icons Smash Bros screenshot

Modern melee

Wavedash Games intends for symbols the modern version of being melee that the fans never got a chance to play. While the company is careful to avoid direct comparisons to Nintendo’s Titanic franchise, the game is clearly heavily inspired by it melee. Gameplay is similar, and the studio incorporated many of the mechanics that make it melee such an exciting game to watch.

What separates symbols from melee is the developer’s commitment to the sport. Wavedash Games CEO Matt Fairchild told The Esports Observer that the game is being developed with esports in mind.

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]What separates symbols
from melee is the developer’s commitment to the sport.[/perfectpullquote]

“We see eSports in four different places – you have to make a game for every screen, every street, every stream and every stadium. So it has to be great to play at home on the couch, it has to be able to be seen by people who have never picked up a controller, it has to be great in the huge stadium, but it also has to have these little local events support those who can. I owe my place in the gaming industry to them.”

For Fairchild, creating an esports-ready game means more than just incorporating the mechanics of a popular competitive game—it’s about cultivating a community. He said Wavedash works with esports organizations to collect feedback “asking what they would like about supporting a fighting game and a platformer in particular.”

Related article: An introduction to watching fighting games as esports

Wavedash Games aims to support every facet of its esports scene. “We consider ourselves successful when the entire ecosystem is successful,” Fairchild said. “So that means building tools that allow streamers to tell a better story in these tournaments, or helping content creators get their videos out there and driving more traffic to their site, or helping tournament organizers do it themselves when it comes to marketing and advertising.”

Do what Nintendo doesn’t do

Fairchild’s philosophy is a refreshing, hopeful perspective for smashed Fans used to a much more volatile relationship with their developer. In the past, Nintendo has actively tried to dismantle that smashed esports scene.

Jake Kulinski was a producer for Major League Gaming, which once hosted circuits for melee and Brawl. “Back in 2010,” Kulinski said, “Nintendo denied MLG the broadcasting rights Super Smash Bros: Brawl, as they viewed their game as a party game and not an esport. As a result, Smash was dropped by MLG, and the brawl scene had a great success.”

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Nintendo has stopped trying to destroy them smashed esports scene, but it hasn’t fully jumped on board yet. [/perfectpullquote]

In 2013, Nintendo tried the same tactic when melee has earned a spot at the Evolution World Championship (Evo) – the biggest fighting game tournament of the year. The publisher refused Evo permission to broadcast meleeBut this time smashed Fans fought back. The public outcry was so loud that Nintendo reversed its decision, and melee has been broadcast on every Evo ever since.

These days Nintendo stopped trying to destroy them smashed esports scene, but it hasn’t fully jumped on board yet. Many fighting game publishers like Capcom Provide prize money for large independent tournaments like Evo. no smashed Game has ever received similar support from Nintendo.

That being said, it’s reasonably understandable that Nintendo is ignoring this melee now. The game is 15 years old and played on an outdated system. That fact, combined with Nintendo’s overall stance on esports, makes it highly likely that we’ll never see an official esports initiative for melee.

Be in the spotlight

symbols has an opportunity to capitalize on Nintendo’s apathy. Without melee Remake for the Switch on the horizon, the game is still one of the least accessible esports. The game can only be played with outdated controllers. Third party software required for online play. symbols, on the other hand, is free to play via Steam and supports any modern controller option. The game plans to have a robust online matchmaking system and an ever-growing roster of new characters.

As a modern esports title symbols also intends to open doors to more sustainability for content creators and pro gamers. Eric “ESAM” Lew is a pro smashed Player for Panda Global who participated melee, brawland Wii U. In addition to his competitive career, Lew supports himself through his Twitch stream and YouTube channel.

“There’s always a lot of content with a brand new platformer,” Lew said, “because the game is so new and everything that’s important is… exciting because there’s more stuff to content about than there is about smash 4 right now that has a lot less informative content you can make and even more for meleebecause it’s been a while since the games.”

melee hasn’t received a balance patch or content update in 15 years, and likely never will, Lews argues that content creators are limited in their ability to provide regular updates. symbols is expected to work like League of Legends where new characters are added over time and the roster is continuously optimized through balance patches and content updates.

It will be difficult for symbols to replace completely melee upon release as its fans have chosen to remain stuck more than a decade in the past. However, if the game can offer the same satisfying gameplay with modern features and genuine developer support, symbols could leverage a huge, passionate fan base to become one of the biggest fighting game esports.

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