How did Masahiro Sakurai prioritize user experience in game development?

How did Masahiro Sakurai prioritize user experience in game development?

Masahiro Sakurai: Prioritizing User Experience in Game Development

Masahiro Sakurai, the visionary behind the Kirby series and Super Smash Bros. franchise, has always held the belief that the player’s experience should be paramount in game design. Throughout his career, Sakurai has made several notable decisions that underscore his commitment to this principle.

User Delight: Removing Barriers

Sakurai firmly believes that waiting time in games is detrimental to the user experience. In a recent livestream, he emphasized the importance of minimizing the time between launching a game and beginning actual gameplay. He explained that arcade games allow for swift transitions between titles, but the same smoothness is often lacking in home console games due to logos, loading screens, and other interruptions.

To illustrate his point, Sakurai revealed that he had initially intended to include Dolby Surround audio in Kirby Air Ride, a GameCube racing game released in 2003. However, he ultimately decided to forgo the feature because it would have required displaying the Dolby logo at the start of the game for a few seconds. Sakurai was adamant that even a brief delay of a few seconds would detract from the user’s enjoyment, and thus he prioritized eliminating it.

Iterating for User Benefit

Sakurai’s dedication to user experience extends beyond the initial design phase. He believes that ongoing iteration and feedback are essential to continuously improve the gaming experience. In a 2021 interview, he discussed the process of refining Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s gameplay balance based on player feedback.

“We would look at the data and see how often certain characters were winning or losing,” Sakurai explained. “We would then make adjustments to improve the balance, making sure that all characters had a fair chance of winning.”

Through this iterative process, Sakurai ensures that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate remains engaging and enjoyable for players of all skill levels.

Humanizing Game Design

Sakurai’s user-centric approach is rooted in his belief that games should be enjoyable for everyone. He understands that players have different backgrounds, preferences, and abilities, and he strives to create games that cater to this diversity.

For instance, Sakurai implemented color-blind options in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate after receiving feedback from players with color vision deficiencies. He also included a variety of control schemes to accommodate different playstyles. These thoughtful touches demonstrate Sakurai’s commitment to making his games accessible and inclusive.


Masahiro Sakurai’s unwavering focus on user experience has made him one of the most respected game designers in the industry. By prioritizing the reduction of waiting time, iterating based on player feedback, and humanizing game design, Sakurai has created gaming experiences that are not only fun and engaging, but also respectful of the players’ time and enjoyment. His approach serves as an inspiration to other developers who seek to craft truly user-centric games.
also read:What is Masahiro Sakurai’s prized ‘pièce de résistance’ in his game storage solutions?

By Deepika

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