The Smash Bros. director doesn’t get paid until a game ships

FOR most people, game development is like any other job.

You work 9 to 5, if not longer, and are paid monthly so you can pay bills and — hopefully — buy some nice things.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate is absolutely, absolutely ridiculous in the best possible way.


Super Smash Bros Ultimate is absolutely, absolutely ridiculous in the best possible way.Credit: Nintendo

But things don’t work that way for one of the world’s most famous game directors, Masahiro Sakurai.

Although most games have long development cycles of several years, Sakurai-san confessed in a recent YouTube video that he doesn’t get paid at all until a game completes development and is released to the public, which likely means he gets by without pay from the projects he has been working on for years.

Sakurai-san explains, “Regarding the important issue of income, my contracts generally state that I will not receive any payments during development.

“I don’t see any compensation until a game is finished, up for sale and earning revenue – and my income is based on game sales.

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“Of course, if the project fails, I don’t earn anything. Even if I wasn’t responsible for the failure.

“Really a risky job.”

Sakurai-san revealed this tidbit in the latest entry of his YouTube series, Masahiro Sakurai on making games.

This episode was dedicated to the running of his studio, sora ltd.

In the video, Sakura-san also confirms that he is the only employee of Sora Ltd. and makes it clear that he does not accept applications.

This means that he is in charge of contract negotiations and makes it clear that this is not a malicious decision by the publishers he works with:

“External contractors not working in-house are typically paid a set development fee each month.

“This is beneficial for tax reasons and necessary for companies to retain workers,” explains Sakurai-san.

“However, the company that actually sells the game doesn’t see a profit until the game goes on sale.

“I do not ask for any compensation during the project to share the risk with them.

“I don’t know if I’ll do this forever, and maybe I should consider it on a case-by-case basis, but at least for now, I can’t say I’ve ever had trouble paying the bills…”

Given that Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U has sold around 15 million units, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has sold around 30 million units, it’s likely that Sakurai’s decision to get paid based on game sales , is a wise decision and has netted him plenty of change.

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Written by Dave Aubrey on behalf of GOOD LUCK AND HAVE FUN.

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