Source Gaming's founder PushDustIn had a discussion with their lead translator Soma about Mashahiro Sakurai's view of Smash as a competitive game. PushDustIn also provided Sakurai quotes throughout the years on his perception of Melee. You can check out the article or the video below that traces the development of Smash.
Sakurai is mixed with his intentions for Melee. At first he wants to create a game that casual players can enjoy but offers depth to those who seek it: "That objective hasn’t changed one bit. You can play it casually, but you can also really get into it." That statement was given in 2002, after Melee's release.
That's where he meets with a difficult task, making a game competitive, but also fun. While people can have fun playing a fighting game, they tend to become frustrated when they lose. As part of a fighting game's nature, one player has to be victorious. Sakurai sought to have his cake and eat it too.
Sakurai's mentality about competitive Smash Bros. has been shifting more and more in the past year. A very promising sign
"For example, as a game designer you cannot ignore the fact players who have an unpleasant experience where they lose may begin to dislike, or tire of, your game. Even if that isn’t the case, in a game where multiple people compete, only one person can enjoy the fruits of victory, while the other players don’t have fun. This isn’t a happy experience. If people are going to play a game, I want them to all be happy! Is thinking this way being too greedy?"
The speed change in Brawl was because "while a higher speed game is definitely exhilarating and fun, it makes the gap between beginners and higher level players too large." The division between Melee and Brawl was noted by casual and competitive gamers alike. He accomplished his goal of giving Brawl a lower barrier of entry.
sakurai has such confusing thoughts on smash and competitive gaming. hes so many different people sometimeshttps://t.co/8A3Tw7Bj5X
Later in the article, Sakurai said, "I doubt we’ll ever see one that’s as geared toward hardcore gamers as Melee was." He understands how well received Melee was, especially for hardcore player, but believes that "Melee was just too difficult."
Though Sakurai caters toward casuals, he's happy with the success that Melee has achieved as an Esport. He considers Melee as "the one where skills gaps become very apparent, the one that’s highly competitive...."
[sakurai voice] i want to make smash accessible to everyone *does every possible nonsensical thing he can to make the mechanics inaccessib
Sakurai's competitive philosophy in directing the Smash franchise has changed over time, for better or for worse. I may not like it as a Melee player, but I can understand and cope better knowing that a Melee-esque game won't be on the horizon.