Today, Nintendo sent a cease and desist email to the people who run The Big House, an annual Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament that was scheduled this year for early December.
Nintendo argued the competition was illegally messing with their intellectual property by playing a version of Smash on a popular game emulator called Slippi.
Nintendo will use the player brands built through our own grassroot efforts to promote their new games. Then, not only do they not help us grow, they actively prevent us from growing on our own.— HugS (@HugS86) November 19, 2020
So tired of this company. #freemelee
Slippi is designed to “bring Melee into the future” by adding features such as replay files, improved video quality, and online matchmaking, basically supporting the game in a way that Nintendo doesn't have the time to do.
Nintendo was initially sponsoring the event, but upon learning that Slippi would be used, they withdrew support and sent their C&D, which caused the organizers to cancel the event.
Nintendo has been notoriously protective of its IPs, constantly sending cease and desist letters to mod makers, ROM hackers, content creators, and anyone else who loves Nintendo games.
There are generally two reasons why Nintendo does this: because they simply can or because they’re making their own version of whatever project they’re stopping.
Nintendo did this recently with the fan-made game Mario Royale. Seeking to capitalize on the trend that “every game needs to have a battle royale mode,” YouTuber InfernoPlus put together a browser-based Mario battle royale game, where 75 players could battle each other while playing the classic Super Mario Bros.
Nintendo then put the kibosh on that and announced Super Mario Bros. 35, their own battle royale.
In most cases, Nintendo C&Ds these projects because they’re legally within their right to do so. They own the IPs and they can be dicks about how it’s projected if they want to.
I totally forgot that Nintendo invited Melee players to help promote Ultimate. They love to USE this community.— ChellyToms ✨ (@ChellyToms) November 19, 2020
But the more Nintendo does this, the more resistance they’ll get from a devoted community. Rather than embracing fan projects, Nintendo distances itself from these passionate creatives to focus solely on the person who still wants to play Mario Kart 64.
Only problem is there’s no way to play Mario Kart 64 "legally" these days. There’s no N64 marketplace on the Switch, and Nintendo ripped all the ROMs off of popular emulation sites years ago.
It’s funny considering the past between the two companies, but Nintendo should really look to Sega for inspiration when it comes to treating their fans with respect.
Rather than beat their fans over the head with lawsuits and legal text, Sega embraced and actually hired Sonic the Hedgehog fans. Chris “Taxman” Whitehead was a popular Sonic fan game creator who was eventually hired to make Sonic Mania, probably the best Sonic game to come out in three decades.
Clearly Nintendo’s out of touch. They're a walking, talking Principal Skinner meme.
nintendo when they see someone playing their game pic.twitter.com/px5jR4zSLY— ken (@kensaikik) November 19, 2020
Let the kids have fun, Nintendo. Appreciate the fact that you have so many people who love you and your games, because you never know when they’ll stop.