Nintendo to Embrace Esports?

Will Nintendo finally embrace esports with the Nintendo Switch?

For many years Nintendo were reluctant to play a part in esports. Back in 2013 the co-founder of EVO (the biggest fighting game championship) was told by Nintendo to shut down the Super Smash Bros. Melee event. So have Nintendo decided against this attitude for the future? It would be very wise to do so.

The struggles and stubbornness

The Wii U has been a far from successful console with abysmal sales figures. The Wii successor failed to capture the attention of the younger generation.

“It is for babies, the Wii U is terrible.”

This was the opinion of most boys aged 9-12 years old*. Nintendo is in big trouble as their target market is turning their back on them. The Japanese video game company failed to embrace modern platforms such as YouTube and earlier and it has cost them dearly. Nintendo’s stubbornness has also put them further behind expressing on numerous occasions they do not want the Super Smash Bros series to be played competitively. This was despite excessive negative backlash from fans of the game. Other acts of stubbornness included taking heavy cuts from YouTubers’ ad revenue, or excessive copyright striking. Nintendo must take a more modern approach with their new console and come to term with digital marketing strategies. This involves having a more inviting attitude towards streamers and YouTubers to connect with the gaming community.

Embrace esports, the foundations are there

Nintendo’s fantastic first party titles have always been at the company’s core. For Nintendo in esports, Super Smash Bros. Melee has led the charge. The game released for the GameCube in 2001 and has been played competitively ever since.

“Melee ended up becoming a smash hit for hardcore fighting game fans…  I regret that because I intended for the series to be for players who couldn’t handle such highly skilled games” – Masahiro Sakurai (Super Smash Bros. Melee Creator)

Despite Nintendo’s opinions the game is played competitively at a lot of major fighting game tournaments. Smash Melee built up an extraordinary fan base full of passionate players. These players have kept the competitive scene alive for over a decade.

Super Smash Bros. Melee
Super Smash Bros. Melee – Courtesy of Nintendo Europe

Investing in esports will prove highly valuable for Nintendo going forward. There are a lot of opportunities such as adding a competitive mode for the future Mario Kart or Smash Bros game. Creating brand new IP’s with competitive elements such as Splatoon. As well as being able to watch Nintendo esports games on the go via the Switch and making huge adjustments to the social infrastructure.

In 2016 the Japanese video game giant should recognize the potential esports has. During an advert for the Switch a short clip recreates an esports event involving a game of Splatoon. Although it was a clip, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility, ESL (one of the largest tournament organizers) have already held multiple Splatoon tournaments. This could be an indication of what Nintendo want the Switch to become. If they want it to be a hit it, embracing esports would be a good step forward.

*recent survey from GAME retailer shoppers