Masahiro Sakurai has a regular column in Japanese game magazine Weekly Famitsu. In the latest issue, just released and read by Kotaku, Sakurai’s article is titled, “Everything comes to an end.”
According to Sakurai, he wrote the article earlier this month at the end of Golden Week, which is a string of national holidays in Japan. With Tokyo under a state of emergency due to covid-19, Sakurai finally got much-needed relax time, noting, “This probably the first holiday I’ve had with consecutive days off in, what, ten years?”
Sakurai spent the time off enjoying himself, going for a drive or at home watching movies and playing games. He mentioned how these kinds of days were what he’d imagine it would be like after he retired. “Eventually, I’ll get old, and there’s no way I can work forever,” he wrote.
“To be frank,” he continued, “I do wonder about being able to enjoy every day if I could make some free time. I do yearn for early retirement!” (Note: The word Sakurai used akogaremasu can mean “yean for”, “long for”, or “admire”.)
The famed game creator added that he thought the time might not be too far off. He is only 50 years old and while he looks eternally youthful, he’s been working in the game industry for a long, long time. He created Kirby when he was still only 19, helming Kirby’s Dream Land in 1992. He even admitted that he often wonders how much longer he can keep doing this job. “How far will I keep doing this and after that, what will I do?” Sakurai noted that while people are working longer, and thus, retiring later, the game industry is filled with youngsters. But he’s not throwing in the towel just yet.
“And so, now when I can do work, even if I get busy and put up with stuff, I feel like it’s best to try as hard as I can,” Sakurai wrote.
The Smash Bros. creator has been always been open and revealing in his Famitsu column. He’s talked about his grueling work schedule and even how he suffered calcific tendinitis that was so bad playtesting was painful. His latest article seems like he’s mulling over ideas he has about an early retirement, but he doesn’t specifically say if or when that would happen.
However, Sakurai does mention that he will stop writing his Famitsu column after all Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s download content wraps up. He’s able to say that there are two more fighters to go and thinks that this will conclude during the year. The decision to end the column is quite a big deal because Sakurai has been writing it since 2003—18 years! (A shock to me to be honest!) No doubt this is an indication that he’s thinking through life changes.
The column does end on an optimistic and upbeat note. “After that, it’s not like I’m going to stop game-related work, and until then, I’m going to give it my all!!”
Update May 28 - 5:45 AM: Sakurai has issued a tweet about his latest Weekly Famitsu column, writing it wasn’t the case that he was stopping his column because he was thinking about his age. “I don’t know what’s next,” he added, “but I’m not retiring from the game industry. Probably.” The last word in his tweet “tabun” (たぶん) can also mean “perhaps”, “possibly” or even “maybe.”
As mentioned in Kotaku’s original article, Sakurai ended his column optimistically, stating that he will continue working in the game industry. But in line with Sakurai’s latest tweet, add a “tabun” to that.