Super Smash Bros. Ultimate won’t launch until Dec. 7, but it’s already in the hands of some players. Pirates ripped and uploaded files from an early copy over the weekend, and as is often the case with pre-launch leaks, previously unrevealed information is now proliferating online — and neither fans nor Nintendo are having it.
The company is swiftly issuing takedown notices to YouTubers who have uploaded footage or music clips, but what’s bigger for the community is that these details remain in the wild. This has created a surge of spoiler warnings across Twitter, Reddit and Discord, combined with users voicing disgust and outrage with anyone daring to ruin the experience early for anyone, let alone them.
But this aversion to spoilers isn’t unique to this leak. For many fans, when it comes to Smash Bros., all information is sacred, only to be delivered straight from Masahiro Sakurai and Nintendo. And as several Super Smash Bros. fans and members of these communities tell Polygon, crying “Spoilers!” over a fighting game whose full roster and other details were officially unveiled pre-launch isn’t overdramatic — it’s the respectful response.
“A spoiler to the average person who has been following Smash Bros. Ultimate is likely different than other games,” said Stealth, a self-proclaimed “Nintendo super fan” who’s been tweeting actively in protest of sharing leaked info from the game. “Nintendo themselves let us know what the stages and roster where, because those are huge selling points, but many aspects of the game were left hidden for us to discover when the game releases.”
These include how and when to unlock playable characters, as well as the total number of spirits and music tracks in the game. More importantly, pirates have leaked details about the World of Light Adventure mode. This is the closest thing Super Smash Bros. has had to a story since Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and fans wish to go in with a clean slate.
Leakers, however, are making that difficult.
“It’s been over 10 years since Smash had a story, and it’s something players want to savor to the fullest extent on their own,” said Soulseer, a moderator on the Super Smash Bros. Discord server and competitive Smash player. “They want the whole experience unspoiled and discovering things as they go, and when that’s ruined many of them feel that they were robbed of an experience they waited potentially a decade for.”
“The angry people usually want to have most of the game as a new experience,” added Aedan “Azantix” Payne, another moderator. “I’ve heard it been compared to reading the last page of a book before starting it, it ‘ruins’ the entire read.”
The Discord is full of said “angry people,” as are Twitter and forum threads, especially when people pop in to drop those spoilers. One Smash fan on the ResetEra forum, posted the Monday after the pirated copies went online, called the spread of info “disgusting,” and attempts to avoid story spoilers “utterly exhausting.”
World of Light, however, is a much lighter story mode than Brawl’s Subspace Emissary. So while cutscenes that would have been a nice surprise in-game are hitting YouTube without context, it may be hard for outsiders to feel sympathetic for the game’s community. This is doubly true when Sakurai and the team revealed every fighter, the majority of the stages and plenty of modes ahead of time.
Even news from Nintendo Direct presentations can be considered “spoilers” by some fans, and that’s over the line, said Soulseer.
“I think it’s sort of weird when people try to avoid information about a game that comes from an official source, especially fighting games where it’s important to get as much info as possible outside of story to really know if you want to purchase the game. I guess some people want to be surprised by every aspect of the game, but I don’t really think it’s fair since nobody can have discussion about the game around you without walking on a tightrope.”
But the frustration goes beyond the desire to enter the game blind. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is yet another time-consuming project for Masahiro Sakurai, the franchise’s director who has often spoken about how much of his life revolves around developing the games. In interviews following Ultimate’s big E3 breakdown, Sakurai talked about his dislike of leaks, and his gratitude that nothing from the latest Smash Bros. had come out early.
Sakurai devotees make up a large number of the spoiler-averse community, according to fans.
“While it is true that this game might sell millions and millions of copies, and the loss of sales from this early piracy might not be too impactful,” said Stealth. “I believe the love that the fans have for Sakurai and his team, the very idea that people are not supporting that work legitimately, are actively trying to spoil the game for those of us who are waiting to buy it on 12/7 is rather disheartening.”
“Another thought people have is about the people who make the game, that spend so much time developing it and revealing it slowly, to excite people,” echoed Azantix. “When it gets leaked, that all goes to waste I’d say.”
Is it a waste? The idea of spoilers when it comes to media is so fraught — does knowing which music tracks are in a game before you play it lessen the experience? Or, more significantly, the story beats of a single-player campaign in a multiplayer fighting game?
Sykin of the popular Super Smash Bros. Ultimate News Twitter account doesn’t think so.
“I like to think that, like other fighting games, Super Smash Bros. is a game experience that isn’t really hindered or negatively impacted by spoilers at all,” they said. “At the end of the day, most people will end up playing and enjoying this game for the gameplay and the vast amount of iconic video game characters that it features. I believe that one of the core elements of Super Smash Bros. has always been about having fun by competing with your friends and family, and I don’t think that’s something that can really be ‘spoiled.’”
Update: The manager of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate News account is named Sykin. We’ve corrected the spelling above.