Nintendo has a history of intolerance towards those who use its content without permission and has taken action against fans who copy, modify or recreate its titles for new platforms. Yesterday the company made its latest move, delivering a big blow to the competitive Smash Bros. gaming community.
The Big House Gets Dismantled By Nintendo
Since 2011, The Big House event has taken place annually, acting as a convention for Super Smash Brothers fans from around the world. In light of the extraordinary events of 2020, The Big House recently made the decision to take its event online for the first time in its history, hoping to continue the fun despite a worldwide pandemic.
For Nintendo, however, the manner in which this event was set to take place was simply too much. According to The Big House, Nintendo contacted them with a cease-and-desist notice, warning that the organizers do not have permission to host or broadcast the event.
“We are forced to comply with the order and cancel The Big House Online for both Melee and Ultimate. Refund information will be sent shortly. We apologize to all those impacted,” the “heartbroken” organizers announced yesterday.
Nintendo Issues Cease-and-Desist to Shut Down The Big House
The announcement from The Big House indicated that Nintendo’s objections were based in the proposed use of a third-party project known as ‘Slippi‘.
This set of tools would’ve been absolutely crucial to the proposed event as they provide Super Smash Bros. Melee with a broad range of features simply unavailable in the official version. This includes automatically saved replays, live match mirroring, and rollback netcode that allows people to smoothly play the game online. By banning the use of Slippi, the online tournament is no longer possible.
Nintendo: Pirated Games and Misuse of Branding Unacceptable
In a statement obtained by Polygon, Nintendo expressed appreciation for the “love and dedication the fighting game community has for the Super Smash Bros. series,” adding that it had partnered with numerous Super Smash Bros. tournaments in the past. However, in the case of The Big House, it simply could not tolerate the manner in which the event would be taking place.
“Unfortunately, the upcoming Big House tournament announced plans to host an online tournament for Super Smash Bros. Melee that requires use of illegally copied versions of the game in conjunction with a mod called ‘Slippi’ during their online event,” the company said.
“Nintendo therefore contacted the tournament organizers to ask them to stop. They refused, leaving Nintendo no choice but to step in to protect its intellectual property and brands. Nintendo cannot condone or allow piracy of its intellectual property.”
Why The Use Of ‘Slippi’ is Unacceptable to Nintendo
To fully comprehend Nintendo’s position requires an explanation of how Slippi functions and what its requirements are. Publicly launched in June 2018, Slippi is a custom version of the popular Dolphin emulator for the Gamecube and Wii, one adapted for Super Smash Bros. Melee online play.
Its Slippi Online component provides a key feature that the original game doesn’t – the addition of “rollback netcode” that allows for online play of a quality suitable for the testing environment of competitive online gaming. However, to achieve this the player must also have a copy of the Super Smash Bros. Melee game file on their computer to run through the emulator.
While having a backup copy of a piece of software is not illegal in the US, it’s still a big no-no for Nintendo, especially when the resulting game content will be streamed online.
With outlets like Kotaku now describing the cease-and-desist as “absurd bullshit” and threads on Reddit boiling over in hatred towards Nintendo by some of its most hardcore fans, Nintendo appears to have shot itself in the foot once again.
As this tweet shows, some fans simply aren’t prepared to accept that Nintendo “appreciates the love”, as history appears to show otherwise.
— DarkGenex (@DarkGenex) November 20, 2020