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Super Smash Bros creator Masahiro Sakurai warns that game updates "won’t mean anything" without a strong base game

Sakurai believes that game development shouldn't be about fixing everything with live ops later
Super Smash Bros creator Masahiro Sakurai warns that game updates
  • Masahiro Sakurai has advised developers via his YouTube channel to release games "in perfect shape" or else risk losing players
  • The Smash Bros creator believes games should be launched "in the best condition possible"

Super Smash Bros creator Masahiro Sakurai has issued sage advice to developers to release games "in perfect shape" or else risk losing players.

To achieve this, developers must "already know what the finished game will be and how to make it happen." A good point well made but one which Sakurai acknowledged is "all but impossible with modern titles".

He shared this contradictory circumstance on his YouTube channel, Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games, where he regularly offers insight into game development and leverages his experience with Nintendo franchises like Super Smash Bros, Kirby, and Kid Icarus.

In this latest video, he also shared his thoughts on the complexity of modern games, downloadable updates, and more.

From a place of understanding

"I do know what creators are up against," said Sakurai. "Games these days - especially AAA games - have extremely complicated structures and setups. It’s no exaggeration to say they’re 100, 1,000, or even 10,000 times more complex than in the past."

In addition to being more complicated, Sakurai observed that modern game developers get less time to actually playtest a finished game, which means that more bugs slip through into players’ hands. As a result, "the market is the best bug tester" - especially when players upload videos of bugs they encounter, as devs can then try to reproduce and resolve them.

A graphic representing game complexity from Masahiro Sakurai's YouTube video
A graphic representing game complexity from Masahiro Sakurai's YouTube video

Of course, game-breaking bugs that cause crashes should be "fixed by all means", and adding more quality-of-life features post-launch is "an extra bonus" for players, but isn’t expected. Sakurai doesn’t criticise anyone for "improving a game that’s already released" but has warned devs against releasing unpolished games and finishing them later.

Although this is possible in the modern era - especially on mobile where patches and content updates are added so frequently - Sakurai believes a poor launch can put players off and they may not return regardless of improvements down the line, leaving big updates with small returns.

"No matter how much you improve your game through patches, it won’t mean anything if your players have already given up on the game," he expanded. "So in my view, you should strive to make sure it’s in the best condition possible from the very start."

It’s a similar attitude to Nintendo’s more broadly, where work-life balance is a priority even if that means delaying game releases.