Minecraft “Steve” (Mojang)
Even though many people think that Banjo-Kazooie’s addition to the roster is the first example of Microsoft-owned content appearing on a Nintendo console, Minecraft initially appeared on the Wii U back in 2015. Although Minecraft was initially released in 2011 by Swedish game developer Mojang, Microsoft purchased the company in 2014, thus making Xbox Game Studios the intellectual property owner for the Minecraft franchise. Microsoft has also released the game on competitor and rival Sony’s platforms such as the PlayStation Vita and the PS4, which has enabled Minecraft to sell well over 180 million plus copies in its current lifespan.
In addition to the main title, Microsoft has also developed several spin-off title like Minecraft: Story Mode and the upcoming Minecraft: Dungeons. The franchise was even popular enough to get its own live fan convention, formerly called “MINECON” (renamed to Minecraft Festival), which has typically been held every year since 2011 (although the 2020 event was officially postponed due to concerns with the coronavirus outbreak). The franchise continues to grow today, thanks to consistent updates, cross-platform online play, and the game’s ability to entice both hardcore and casual gamers alike.
As stated earlier, I’m sure most Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fans would rather see Master Chief in this slot, but that’s far less likely to happen despite the popular demand. Cuphead may also be another popular choice, since Microsoft released Cuphead on the Switch last year. However, the recent inclusion of Cuphead DLC content, including a wearable Cuphead costume for the Mii Fighter character and a musical track based on the game’s “Floral Flurry” stage, makes this less likely to happen as well.
On the other hand, it makes the most logical sense for Nintendo to choose “Steve,” the main pixelated protagonist and avatar of the Minecraft franchise, over the other popular Microsoft-owned properties. Steve is a popular choice among fans, particularly casual gamers, which Nintendo could try to use to draw more interest to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (and consequently, Nintendo itself). It’s also worth noting that Minecraft is one of the few third-party games on the Switch that has sold over a million units. I think all these factors make Steve a very likely candidate that could be added to the Fighters Pass DLC.