Many gamers hope Nintendo and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Game Director Masahiro Sakurai will announce Goku as a playable character. The iconic Dragon Ball protagonist has starred in dozens of video games for decades, with popular games Dragon Ball FighterZ, Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot and the manga crossover fighting game Jump Force among the most recent. However, Goku -- or any Dragon Ball characters -- are unlikely to be included in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Sakurai developed Ultimate to fulfill a promise to late Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, to create a new Smash Bros. game for the Nintendo Switch. Iwata passed away in 2015, two years before the Switch's successful global launch, so Sakurai was determined to make the latest entry in the fighting game franchise the biggest and best one possible, as a tribute to his late friend and colleague.
To that end, the Smash Ultimate development team has brought up the total roster of playable characters to a staggering 86, including two seasons of DLC characters, by securing licenses from a variety of third-party developers. Despite this expansive roster, which features non-Nintendo icons like Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog and Mojang's Minecraft Steve, fans shouldn't get their hopes up for Goku.
In an interview at the 2019 Japan Game Awards, Sakurai responded to widespread requests for characters like Goku and Iron Man to be included in Ultimate. Sakurai explained that the Super Smash Bros. franchise was always meant to be a celebration of video games and characters originating from video games, instead of other media. Therefore, characters introduced through manga or comic books aren't up for serious consideration towards inclusion in the game.
Although a handful of characters are slated to be announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's final season of DLC, Goku and the rest of the Z Fighters coming to Ultimate just isn't happening. Even with current Dragon Ball video game license holder Bandai Namco serving as the primary developer on Ultimate, Goku and his friends existed in manga and anime before they made the jump to video games.
In the meantime, gamers will just have to be satisfied with the long list of other fighting games featuring Goku and his friends. Hopefully, the first Nintendo Direct of 2021 will have good news for Smash players about other upcoming fighters.