eSports is a part of Video Games that has in recent years, been starting to surge in mainstream popularity. More and more people are tuning in to League of Legends, DOTA 2, Overwatch, and other such tournaments, and eSports seems to keep getting bigger, with more and more big multiplayer games designed with competitive play in mind.
Nintendo has up until a few years ago, been historically indifferent towards the concept of competitive play, or in the case of Super Smash Bros. been completely against it. This sort of indifference wasn’t a big deal back when eSports were a developing niche. But by 2013, it was starting to become an outdated stance. With the release of Super Smash Bros. For Wii U and Splatoon, Nintendo started to catch on to the potential competitive play has for mainstream, especially with non-gamers. Nintendo, being all about “expanding the gaming population” finally decided they wanted a slice of that pie.
With Nintendo Switch, the company’s two first party flagships, Splatoon 2 and ARMS, are designed to make eSports and competitive gaming more accessible to the casual gamer, Following in the footsteps of the original Splatoon, and Super Smash Bros. For Wii U. On the surface, Splatoon 2 and ARMS look like very simple games, with basic, intuitive controls, and streamlined mechanics. Of course, that’s on the surface. As you dig into these games, you’ll find out there’s a lot more meat to them than what first appears. But it’s that simplicity that makes things important. Nintendo is good at streamlining traditionally daunting mechanics, into easier to digest pieces for newcomers, and it shows with these two.
The simplicity of Splatoon 2 and ARMS are an important part of getting casual gamers interested, especially in the case of ARMS since its more involved motion controls makes the game instantly accessible for a casual gamer. However, the game is also designed so that as they play more, they can get deeper into the game, hone their skills, and tear shit up online. Eventually, they’ll gain an aspiration to be just like potential pro players they see in tournaments.
So why is it important that Splatoon 2 and ARMS remain accessible for casuals? Well just like how Nintendo’s philosophy is to create new gamers to help grow the industry, Having competitive games be accessible and fun for casual gamers and spectators is important if eSports are to continue to grow as a mainstream gaming sub-culture. There are a lot of competitive games that look fun to watch, but require a very steep learning curve to even get somewhat familiar with. But accessibility goes a long way to making a healthy mainstream eSports scene.
I think Nintendo can do some pretty amazing things for eSports, maybe even completely revolutionize it. So let’s see how Splatoon and ARMS will stack up in the future.