Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is supposed to receive a new DLC character from Nintendo’s quirky boxing game, Arms, sometime in June, but we’re more than halfway through the month and the company hasn’t said a word about the new fighter since late March. Now, a new update from Game Director Masahiro Sakurai Wednesday hint that ongoing social distancing regulations and work-from-home conditions could lead to production delays for the game.
Nintendo might reveal and release the new Smash Bros. Ultimate fighter without the fanfare of a full Nintendo Direct, much like it did with the announcement of Paper Mario: The Origami King in a smaller-scale digital presentation. That might come as a disappointment to some fans who are craving another hype reveal trailer, like when Fatal Fury’s Terry Bogard was added to Smash Ultimate.
A more low-key, last-minute delivery might be the new norm for Nintendo while its employees continue to work remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Game Director Masahiro Sakurai updated fans on the Smash Ultimate team’s workflow situation during the health crisis on Wednesday in his regular column, with games journalist PushDustIn providing a translation on Twitter. They summarized Sakurai’s statements in a thread and revealed that while not having to commute reduces stress on employees, it has limited and slowed-down what the team is able to do.
Many employees didn’t have appropriate home office setups, so Sakurai’s company Sora Co. Ltd. has been helping the Smash Ultimate team pay for new at-home office equipment. The developers seem to be adapting to the situation, but PushDustIn's final tweet made it clear that they won’t be back to their usual workflow any time soon:
“The impact of Covid-19 will probably continue for some time, so Sakurai will continue to do his best,” they wrote.
This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Sakurai has previously suggested that the pandemic work conditions could lead to some bumps in the road for Smash Ultimate and for the company as a whole. The company reportedly “isn’t planning a Direct at all” for the foreseeable future because of how difficult it is to produce those videos remotely, according to a recent report.
So it seems like Nintendo will stick to less extravagant announcements for the time being.
The Inverse Analysis — This might come as a bummer to anyone who was expecting an over-the-top reveal for all six DLC characters that will be included in Smash Ultimate’s Fighter Pass 2. Nintendo hasn’t announced any delays yet, so we can only assume that the DLC characters will be added to the game on the pre-planned schedule. The reveals will probably just be slightly more toned down, which is completely understandable.
The coronavirus pandemic is a global crisis that individuals, companies, and governments need to adapt to in order to overcome it. Nintendo’s employees are self-isolating to keep themselves and their families safe, just like everyone else and they’re still working to get their legion of fans the Smash Ultimate updates they promised.
Gamers can support them with their continuing passion for the game and patience during this unanticipated health emergency that has thrown off the entire gaming industry and the world.