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Nintendo’s Smash Bros. Gets Final Character in Hit Fighter Game

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(Bloomberg) -- One of Nintendo Co.’s most popular games will soon feature one of the most popular characters in gaming.

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Sora, the cheerful teenager from Kingdom Hearts, will be the final addition to one of the best-selling fighting games in the U.S. -- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate -- Nintendo said Tuesday.

More than 600,000 viewers tuned in to Nintendo’s livestream to find out who would be the anchor to Smash Bros.’ roster of 82 characters, which includes Nintendo stalwarts like Mario as well as outsiders like Pac-Man and Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud and Sephiroth. In the game, a key franchise for the popular Switch console, players pick a character and battle one another.

During a prerecorded presentation, Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai said that Sora had been the most-requested addition to the game. The Kingdom Hearts, a set of action role-playing games from Walt Disney Co. and Square Enix Holdings Co., has sold more than 30 million copies.

Sora marks the end to nearly three years of online support for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, including a steady stream of new characters, maps and other content. Players can purchase the new characters through two season passes priced at $25 and $30.

The practice of continually updating games, rather than immediately moving to sequels, has been lucrative for video game makers. By selling new content after a game comes out, developers generate additional sources of revenue and keep the title in the news. Some games have even sold more copies years after release than they did in their first weeks.

Nintendo has been slow to adapt to the trend but has found success with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It’s the third-best-selling game on the Switch and has sold more than 24 million copies. The season passes were also a big hit for the company, Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa has said.

That success stemmed largely from Nintendo’s marketing strategy. Nintendo treated the reveal of each new character as a special event, putting together unique videos for the announcement. This week’s final revelation was the subject of endless speculation on social media, with names like Sora and Goku (from Dragonball Z) trending on Twitter all weekend.

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