This is another “SG: Roundtable” where we discuss a certain topic. Today, we would like to give our reactions to the Smash Ballot. How do you feel? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter!
Speculation period during the ballot was incredibly fascinating to experience. It was a time where a lot of people felt that anyone could join the battle. Of course, we know that’s not the case now but it was still a lot of fun. It was interesting to see people band together behind characters, as if they have chose sides in a war and vigorously defend their character of choice.
If I have one major regret from this period is that I didn’t do more to highlight the fact that this wasn’t the first ballot. The Smash Ballot has existed before, just not in English. Melee and Brawl both had ballots which had some impact on their roster selection. Those ballots probably also had an impact on trophy selection, and stage selection and Assist Trophies. I think we as a community lost sight of the fact that the ballot could impact other aspects of the game besides straight character selection.
I think Nintendo could have handled it better. It might have been the case that they didn’t know how much content was being created, and after Iwata’s death the ballot was cut shorter, but a clearer limit of how many ballot characters were to be chosen would have made it less painful. I also wish they announced the winners soon. The DLC speculation period almost tore the community apart (because people were fighting a war) and clearer communication from Nintendo or Sakurai could have avoided that. Some of the fighting was due to straight up misinformation still existing within the Smash fanbase, while other fighting was based on pure stubbornness.
We’ll still see the impact of the ballot. After all, the Japanese version states it will impact future installments of the game, and with the current rumors we might have A Case for Smash NX. Maybe the October deadline was actually for that version? We’ll see.
During the early days of the ballot, I posted an article which asserted that the ballot was a suggestion box and not a popularity contest, based on a quote from Iwata himself. But in the end, the character chosen, Bayonetta, was specifical chosen as the winner (among realizable choses). So what happened? On one hand, there could have been some misunderstanding between Nintendo and Sakurai, as Push noted. Nevertheless, it can not be ignored that Iwata’s death had some impact on the development of the DLC. It was Iwata, not Sakurai, who made the comments about the ballot. Perhaps Nintendo wanted to produce more content given
Of course, the ballot was also to be used for future Super Smash Bros. games.
In somewhat typical Nintendo fashion, the ballot felt like another somewhat mishandled attempt by NCL to connect with their fanbase online. There were many ways I felt the ballot could have been handled better– they should have clarified the rules from the beginning, they should have been upfront with their intentions so as to keep expectations appropriate…in the end, I feel like the way they handled ended up introducing some rifts in the community, disappointed some, led people to misdirect their anger (in many directions), and probably hampered the validity of the data that was collected.
Then again, my fervor towards character inclusions in Smash is, well…nonexistent, so I have a cooler view of the ballot and the pre-release speculation period in general. It did draw a lot of attention to Smash and generated publicity, which wasn’t a bad thing. Still, I think I could do without one next time.
All I’m gonna say are three things: it’s cool that something like that exists, even though it’s not nearly as purely influential as fans think. Similarly, it’s probably for the best that it isn’t as influential, though it (like everything else in this series) would always result in upset fans. And seriously, c’mon people; it’s just a game, and these are just characters. It’s cool to rally and support your favorite characters, but the sheer level of vitriol was ludicrous, and honestly unbecoming of this fanbase.
Oh, and one other thing. I think Bayonetta’s success – and the implied success of characters who couldn’t be added for legal or logistical reasons – suggests that what fans really want, at least when they’re given such power, are things that are unique, seemingly impossible, and exciting over some theoretical “relevance.” The list of unused game icons keeps thinning with each installment, and it’s clear that there’s an interest, not just from Sakurai but the players as well, in seeing new, surprising icons and ideas added to Smash. That’s what I’ve taken away from this, more than anything else: we can often be dramatically off the mark for what serious fans and general audiences want. And that’s alright.
I’m not gonna say I saw the ballot winner coming because that would be a lie. Bayonetta came straight out of left-field and shocked everyone and I am glad that has happened. Surprise is all I really wanted with my DLC characters and I basically got it every time. So I am glad we got Bayonetta in the ballot, she is fun to play as and against and hopefully this appearance will make people more interested in picking up Bayonetta 2 as that is one of the best games on Wii U.
I know some people are upset about how the ballot has been handled at its end but honestly nothing has happened that I didn’t expect. They were not going to give us all the results as the japanese ballot page specifically says they will use these results in future products. They are not going to reveal all these characters that could be made into a big surprise some point down the line whether it is in a future smash game or other popular Nintendo games/series. I am also not surprised that we only got one character from the ballot. I always expected just one as the ‘winner’ of the ballot and the rest would get consolation prizes as Mii Fighters or Trophies. While we don’t know for sure if there was consolation prizes handed out, the idea of their being multiple winners was only something people who knew their character could not win the ballot were praying on. The last point I can talk about is whether Bayonetta really won the ballot or not. I think she is the legitimate top winner for realizable characters but it would be nice to know what made a character realizable or not. If people had known before the ballot it may have made some people change their votes. After all they said any games character was viable back when the ballot first started and now that it has ended it turns out that not all of them were. Then again as this was very much a general popularity contest for games characters by Nintendo I kind of see why they did not give that restriction from the get-go.
In the end, I am ok with how the ballot turned out. I only voted to make Nintendo aware that the west knows about Takamaru. I never expected that he would make it into the game as a fighter as he was already an assist trophy. The character we did get is fun and enjoyable and I think that is the most important thing about Smash’s fighters, especially the DLC ones.
While I’m not disappointed with the results of the ballot, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a bit sad now that it’s over. At the same time, though, I am a bit relieved that the extended speculation period is now behind us. Smash Bros. character speculation is a very draining thing to be a part of as character fan bases tend to be… heavily invested. Still, it was a very special thing to be a part of and part of me can’t wait for Smash NX to be revealed so that it can start all over again.
I do wish that we saw more returning veterans (free Wolf!), especially Snake. Snake would have come with some Konami Mii costumes, which would have paved the way for some sort of Bomberman representation. The most disappointing thing for me, honestly, is that we didn’t see any new modes or returning Melee stages. Neither of those things actually surprised me, though.
By the time the ballot had started, I already wasn’t very invested in character speculation, so I didn’t have a lot of expectations regarding whatever character would be chosen from it, especially when two of my three most wanted characters for DLC had already been revealed by the time the ballot was announced. All I did was vote for Wolf, my only wanted character for DLC at that point.
The ballot relying on player feedback made it all too unpredictable and I always had in mind the fact that the character I had voted for had a chance of not being picked. In the online communities, a lot of people rallied for their favorite characters, voting like crazy, trying to get other people to vote… It almost felt like a political election, complete will polls and similar sorts of propaganda. Fun times, one may say.
As for the ballot was handled, I feel that the best word to describe is “vague”. All Nintendo literally told us was to submit a video game character suggestion through the form and they’d consider those for DLC distribution. They had no info on criteria nor how many characters would be added.
Bayonetta ended up being the sole character to be explicitly chosen from it, ranking 1st in Europe and within the top 5 in the US and, among negotiable and realizable characters, the #1 worldwide. “Vague” surely applies here as well: what makes a character “realizable”?
Perhaps, Sakurai had his own criteria in play for the ballot suggestions and popularity was only one of the factors. After all, they did say that we were suggesting characters and the team would ponder those choices.
Like PushDustIn and SmashChu stated, I can’t help but wonder how Satoru Iwata’s passing may have affected this whole process, given the ballot was his idea in the first place. On the other hand, the wording used to describe the ballot by Nintendo themselves was vague enough that I couldn’t help but think that literally anything could happen, so I remained open-minded about it. What character(s) would be chosen, how many of them, what criteria… It was literally a suggestion box, after all.
All this said, I do think that, for all the fuss done about it, it does feel a bit underwhelming that only a single character was explicitly chosen from it (though one could argue that Cloud may have also been chosen among Final Fantasy character suggestions), but it’s very much possible that all the data collected during its six-month running may influence choices in future Smash Bros. titles, as the Japanese site suggested. In the end, I feel it was a good idea, but one that could have been executed better and caused far too much vitriol in the community for its worth. Nevertheless, I don’t bear any very negative feelings towards it. It did end up impacting the game, after all, and certain fans got their desires granted. Every time there are ballots, such as for political elections, there are always votes that don’t end up having any significant impact, so it’s a natural consequence of this sort of events and one I fully expected to happen.
How do you feel? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter!