“The ‘how’ is not actually that interesting,” says Phil Spencer.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a game where dreams come true. For years, fans had been fantasizing about getting to play as Banjo-Kazooie in a Smash game, and impossibly enough, Nintendo announced during their E3 2019 Direct presentation that it was actually happening.
But though Banjo-Kazooie and the property’s creators Rare were both once owned by Nintendo, the two now belong to Microsoft, which means for the iconic platforming duo to make it into Smash, a deal between Nintendo and Microsoft had to go down. Which must have been interest, right? Well, not according to head of Xbox Phil Spencer, no.
When asked by Kotaku how the deal came about, Spencer said that the “how” of it wasn’t actually that interesting, citing Microsoft’s and Nintendo’s excellent relationship as being an easy springboard for the deal to launch off of. Oh, and he also called Microsoft one of the biggest third party publishers on the Switch- which is weird, but also technically true, because, well, Minecraft.
“The ‘how’ is not actually that interesting,” said Spencer. “Obviously we’re one of the biggest third-party publishers on Switch, so we have great relationships with their third-party team. And you’ve seen the ambition they’ve had with every character that’s ever been in Smash and even more. So it was just kind of part of the partnership relationship we have with them.”
“There wasn’t anything kind of CEO-to-CEO that had to happen,” he continued. “People have asked me on social [media]—I’m sure you’ve seen that—over many years: ‘Would I welcome having Banjo in Smash?’ and I’ve always been open to that.”
“The licensing relationships between the two companies, they’re there and are kind of ongoing,” Spencer added, speaking about Nintendo and Microsoft’s long-standing relationship. “The reason it’s not some interesting, deep conversation is because with us owning Rare and the history between those two things, there are a lot of conversations over the years about, ‘Hey, we want to do “X” is that okay?’”
“I think it’s cool that Banjo is going to be in Smash,” he added. I think it’s cool, too.
Banjo-Kazooie are joining Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s roster as DLC in Fall of this year. Before that, however, the Luminary from Dragon Quest 11 will be joining the roster as its second DLC character, following Joker from Persona 5.