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Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Illusion of Choice: Thoughts on the Smash Bros. Player's Choice Poll

A major announcement made last week during Nintendo's April 1st Nintendo Direct was that players would have the opportunity to vote for the next inclusion for the Smash Bros. DLC. The page for this poll went live after the Direct, and since then, there has been a ridiculous ammount of posts, retweets, news articles, and whatnot regarding "who you should vote for", "the top 20 picks as per twitter", and more.

I am here to tell you why this idea is most likely bullshit.

First of all, one could merely attribute this entire idea to a shameless publicity stunt. Consider how long this poll will be open- until October 3rd, 2015. Why does a poll need to be open for this long? Either because Nintendo will continue to keep tabs on it and share results with Nintendo fans, thus causing them to vote more, publicize the event, or whine, thereby making the competition an active presence on a number of forms of social media. This is a win-win for Nintendo- the less effort they have to put into advertizing their game, the better, and the ridiculous amount of time they're given the poll means they can slowly feed information about it to the public while retaining interest in the title.

Many people have cast (and recast) their votes, but this entire ordeal is sure to fizzle out within a few weeks' time What is the point behind prolonging the event, other than to keep people talking about Smash Bros. until there is a definite decision? Note that Nintendo's poll says nothing about a high amount of votes meaning a character will be considered- rather, if you a submit a nomination, that character will be considered. Which, you know... in terms of game development, is completely unlikely.

I'm sure Nintendo will put out some information about how the poll is progressing in the future- I mean, they'd be pretty stupid not to do so- but the entire thing smells more like a marketing scheme to me. Remember, all character balance goes through Sakurai, and if that man doesn't have a good idea for a character, it's likely we won't see it happen. Of course, it's also important to cast votes within the confines of rational thought- you know, Goku, Luffy, and various anime and pop culture figures aren't going to make the cut by nature. Nintendo has given no limitations in this poll, but that doesn't necessarily mean the possibilities are endless. Licensing is a huge factor here, and that means if Smash Bros. 5 ever rolls around there will be more negotiations abut characters and the like. This needs to be carefully planned, and there's no way Nintendo can be forming tentative negotiations with Disney, DC, and every single video game developer all at the same time.

Remember the motto for dealing with Modern Nintendo: Keep those expectations in check, and you can't possibly be disappointed.

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