Smash Ballot: More Suggestion than Popularity


Note: The following is an opinion article.

If you’ve discussed the Smash Ballot for any length of time, usually someone will bring up who will “win” the ballot. Often, fans assume that the character who gets the most votes wins the ballot and will be added as DLC for Super Smash Bros for 3DS and Wii U. However, this does not appear to be the case when we look at what Nintendo has said about the ballot. Instead, it appears to be more of a suggestion box. In the April 1st 2015 Nintendo Direct, Iwata described the ballot as follows:

I imagine that you have some fighters in mind yourself. Can you think of anyone you’d like to see fight against characters like Mario or Link in Super Smash Brothers? Well, after discussing it with Smash Brothers director, Masahiro Sakurai, we’ve decided to open the new Smash Brothers Fighter Ballot on the Smash Brothers microsite after this Nintendo Direct. With this form, you can let us know, directly, which characters you’d like to see become the next new fighter in Super Smash Brothers. Of course, please understand that we won’t be able to accommodate every request, but Mr. Sakurai and the rest of the staff will take each request into consideration when developing additional fighters. We look forward to hearing from you.

*-emphasis is mine

Mr. Iwata does not mention anywhere that character selection is based on popularity. In fact, he describes the ballot as a suggestion box more than voting for the next character in a popularity contest. Furthermore, he stated that Sakurai and the staff will consider every request. If the ballot was truly a popularity contest, Sakurai and the staff would ignore requests that have few votes. Therefore, characters will likely not be chosen solely on who gets the most votes. Sakurai has not stated what his criteria are for choosing characters from the Smash Ballot; likewise, he has has not stated that the most requested characters will be added as DLC.

That’s not to say a popular character will not be chosen, nor that being highly requested isn’t an important factor when choosing the next character. A major reason Nintendo is doing the Smash Ballot is to maximize profit. By having fans request characters for DLC, Nintendo is ensuring that the characters who will be downloaded the most (i.e. the most popular) are the ones being produced. Furthermore, as I discussed in the DLC Econ 101 article, Nintendo can not produce an infinite amount of DLC since fans will get less utility from each character added. Hence, Nintendo must make the right selection of fighter by choosing the characters fans want to see the most.  Sakurai further supports that development if finite by statingI can’t keep the development team together forever, so there’s only going to be several more characters.”

Hyrule Castle 64.

Sakurai also stated that “From now on, it is going to be fan service.” His statement implies that popularity would be important since those characters are chosen by fans.  As it naturally should be.  Nintendo is making a suggestion box for these characters. If fan suggestions are important, that the ones who appear more often would have to be considered.

However, I do not think its safe to say a character will be chosen solely for that reasons. Sakurai stated that adding only popular characters doesn’t interest him. Throughout this site myself and other have given reasons why even popular characters might not make it in. Specifically, Sakurai has stated that characters need to be interesting, bringing something new to the game, and work within the game’s current framework (see here). Popularity is one factor in determining characters, but it is not the main factor.

In the end, it remains to be seen who will be added into the game based on this ballot. In closing, I should mention that the ballot is very similar to suggestions Sakurai took after the release of Super Smash Bros on the Nintendo 64 and during the development of Super Smash Brothers Brawl (which some of the translations can be found here).  Sakurai will likely respond to many of the suggestions and give his thoughts on them.  However, the ones he responded to the most did not necessarily end up as player-able characters (although some did).  We’ll have to wait and see who makes the final cut.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to follow Source Gaming on Twitter at @AllSourceGaming  or you can follow me at @Spoogymonkey. Also,  check out PushDustin’s patreon.  This is a fan site and with your support we can keep bringing you quality Smash content. Hope you enjoy!!

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  1. I agree that popularity alone will not factor into DLC characters… Ridley is the best example of that. Despite being one of the most requested characters for Smash, Sakurai has said multiple times that he will just not work as a character. Even if Ridley got the most votes, I really doubt Sakurai would go back on what he said.

    If a character won’t work for Smash, they won’t make it in. This is exactly what I was telling people on Miiverse.


    If you look at the “If there was a Smash 2” poll, most of the top characters have already made it in:

    The top 3 Mario characters (Bowser, Peach, and Wario) are in. (Toad at #4 became part of Peach’s moveset.)

    Mewtwo was #1 and Red was #3 for Pokemon (with Mew at #2.)

    Ganondorf, Young Link, Zelda, and Sheik were in the top 2 (in a three-way tie for the latter three.)

    Dedede was #1 and Meta Knight was #3 for Kirby (with Gooey at #2.)
    Mr. Saturn (#1) made it in as an item, and Starman and Jeff (tied at #5) became Assist Trophies.

    Falco (#1) and Wolf (#3) are playable in the Star Fox category.

    Marth became playable, leading with #1 in Fire Emblem.

    Diddy Kong (#3) became playable in the Rare list.

    In the Famicom / Super Famicom category: Sukapon (#1) was almost an item, Lip’s Stick became an item (Lip was #2), Sable Prince (#3), Metroid (#4) and Samurai Goroh (#9) became ATs, and Pit (#6) and Ice Climbers (#9) became playable.

    Most other characters listed (barring choices with legal issues like James Bond or Chocobo) generally had some kind of representation as items, trophies, or stickers. Many of those in this category would honestly make terrible playable characters… or, at least compared to who WAS chosen.


    That said, I’m pretty sure most (or all) of the characters we got as Mii Fighter costumes are characters that are acknowledged to be popular, but can’t work as standalone Smash fighters at this time (note: I say “at this time” because they could make it in the next Smash game, similar to what happened with Villager and Miis.) I’m pretty sure this is especially the case with Inkling and K. Rool, who (from what I can tell) are two of the foremost popularity runners internationally.

    1. You attempted to explain something coherent on Miiverse? What a brave soul you are.

      I’m agree with all you have said, although I’m not entirely sure that the DLC costumes for K. Rool and Inkling necessarily mean that they will not be included as DLC in the future. It just means that they can’t be available now, either because Sakurai’s hasn’t decided if they would work well as characters and provided these costumes as compensation, or they actually have been worked on as fighters but are still in development. But this is kind of what you were talking about already; something is keeping them from being DLC at this moment.

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