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MultiVersus is missing a key ingredient: Smash Discourse

I miss everyone arguing about who to add next to Smash during the build for each fighter reveal.


Although the hype has died down a bit, there’s no doubt that MultiVersus was a pretty big hit right off the bat. The game is technically still in beta, but has already attracted more than 20 million players. That’s what’s going to happen when a game clearly inspired by Super Smash Bros. launches less than a year after Ultimate’s roster was officially finalized and anyone can play it on almost any platform for absolutely nothing.


To say that MultiVersus has replaced Smash would be a bit of a stretch. The only thing Smash will ever replace is the next Smash, and if there will never be another then Ultimate will never be replaced. Certainly an apt title, if that will be the case. Warner Bros. already proved it had the next best thing in MultiVersus when the world cried for it. However, one thing is missing, and it took me a while to figure out what it is.

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It’s discourse. This might seem like a wild thing for someone in an industry where there is too much discourse, so let me explain. Most of the discourse that the video game industry sees on a daily basis, and there’s a lot of it, is bad. Developers pursued by gamers who make their games finicky, titles that launch in a broken state because they weren’t ready to use. That’s obviously not the kind of discourse I want for MultiVersus or anything for that matter.

No, the discourse I’m referring to is what used to come with every single Smash reveal. A day or two before Nintendo was ready to reveal who would be coming next to Smash Ultimate, it would proudly announce that a new fighter was approaching. So began 24 to 48 hours during which everyone, whether they were regular Smash players or not, explained who they thought the new fighter should be, and in many cases, who definitely shouldn’t be. It was fun, light-hearted, and added an even greater sense of occasion to each reveal.

The best part was the list of characters that were touted before each reveal. Almost always the same candidates because Nintendo let us down almost every time. Crash Bandicoot, Master Chief, Rayman and of course Waluigi were never included in the now complete list. That Nintendo would never seem to add who most people wanted made the whole process even funnier. At the time of the argument over who should be the next fighter, everyone came together to lament the fact that Minecraft Steve had been added to the game and not Spyro.

MultiVersus doesn’t have that element, at least not yet. Since the start of Open Beta, a number of characters have been revealed and added, and all have been met with a collective “Oh that’s cool” or similar, and where’s the fun in that? I wanted someone to lose their minds when Gizmo came out of that box because they wanted it to be Scrappy Doo, or players wondering why Black Adam will get a seat before Aquaman.

It is difficult to determine exactly how this innocuous element of discourse can be added to the mix, especially at this early stage. Everyone cheering on a new addition to the MultiVersus roster like they’re watching the Avengers assemble in Endgame is exactly what Warner Bros. wants and needs right now. The aim is to keep increasing the tens of millions of players it has already attracted. Even a roster addition that knocks out part of the player base is a risk at this early stage. MultiVersus doesn’t have Smash’s loyal following that has allowed Nintendo to keep disappointing so many people, only for us to come back a few months later and beg for more.

Two things were key for Nintendo. That loyalty above has built over decades, but so has people paying big bucks for Smash and even more for Fighters Pass. The fact that MultiVersus is free is a disadvantage for its developers. While that’s why it’s already attracted so many players, it also means a few wrong moves and people won’t have a problem potentially leaving it for good without losing any money. For now, stick with characters that can please as many people as possible, but I remain hopeful that one day we’ll all be squabbling over who, like us, should be the focus of the next MultiVersus reveal if it really isn’t a Smash more gives usual with Smash.

NEXT: Onimusha Anime is all well and good, but I’d really like to do a reboot at this point

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