The Smash community seemingly can't catch a break during 2020. While it seemed the worst was behind them after the COVID-19 pandemic made them cancel plans to elevate the scene with the Smash World Tour debuting and allegations of sexual harassment coming out of left field, the latest chapter involving Nintendo vs the people has begun.
The Big House's cancellation has rallied the Smash community against Nintendo (Photo: The Big House)
In a nutshell, the company issued a cease and desist to The Big House tournament organisers, forcing them to cancel the event as they were allegedly using "illegal and modified" copies of Smash Melee, allowing the 20-year-old game to be played online via Slippi, a third-party tool which implements rollback netcode to the online functionalities provided by the Dolphin emulator.
The Big House being affectively forced to cancel their event was just the latest in a long line of moves by Nintendo to stifle the Smash esport scene and those that have started calling for change with the #FreeMelee movement trending on Twitter.
It's in this more vocal opposition ton Nintendo that an unidentified Smash insider created a Twitter account by the name of AnonymousSmasher, releasing a lengthy statement recounting all of Nintendo's transgressions against the competitive Smash community over the years, turning the Free Melee movement into what is now called #SaveSmash.
How Nintendo Has Hurt the Smash Community— anonymoussmasher (@anonymoussmash2) November 24, 2020
In it, the leaker does mention that while the information was compiled before the C&D was issued against The Big House, it seemed an appropriate time to release it.
The long document, which you can read right here, details multiple organisations and companies being "ghosted," and "ignored" by Nintendo as they tried to build an ecosystem for the competitive scene to thrive.
Some of these include Red Bull, HTC, Major League Gaming, and Twitch, with this last one proving to be the more egregious of the bunch.
- Read more: Nintendo had "no choice but to step in" after The Big House Melee tournament revealed to use Slippi
"Twitch had been in negotiations with Nintendo to run a sanctioned circuit for Smash, including Smash 4 and Melee, starting around 2015. Twitch was fronting the costs of this deal with a budget in the millions per year, while Nintendo would own the league brand despite their lack of financial contribution," the document states, adding that in 2018 "the parties came to an agreement. This wasn’t just a verbal agreement, or an agreement made in good faith. It was a written contractual agreement meant to kick off the circuit for both Melee and Smash 4."
What happened? As it turns out, this was the year Nintendo decided to announce and eventually release Smash Ultimate, thus completely losing interest in a circuit that would have been entirely funded by Twitch involving older titles.
After this leak spread, more and more horrifying stories of how Nintendo has mistreated the Smash Community were brought to light, even if indirectly.
Chia, founder of the CLASH series of tournaments, posted a Twitlonger detailing how Nintendo basically killed Project M's community, then proceeded to lie about their involvement.
Project M was a modified version of Smash Bros Brawl, adding mechanics that made it play similar to Melee after fans reacted poorly to Brawl's gameplay, which was slower-paced and less mechanically demanding.
Project M is still being supported to this day (Picture: Project M)
Chia states that in March 2015, she "streamed a tournament called Shots Fired. This was a PM national. I streamed it on Twitch. This was the last PM tournament I streamed on Twitch to CLASH Tournaments. Why? I was forced."
The Twitlonger then details how Twitch "ghosted" her after they promised to pay a certain amount of money Chia lost following the removal of Project M from Twitch (the game was wiped from the site's directory) and how the streaming company threatened her account's partnership status.
"I was not allowed to say that Twitch told me this and that I had to lie," she adds.
If you're following along, it made sense for Twitch to go after unofficial games based around the Smash franchise when you're looking to strike a deal with Nintendo, a deal that never came to fruition and only made things worse for the community.
Another leak shared in the Smash Bros subreddit points at Twitch going as far as handing payouts to relevant streamers with the promise they dropped support for Project M immediately, possibly facilitating the fast-tracking of the official Smash circuit.
"Streamers DID approach Twitch trying to get some of these possible payments on the table," Reddit user LiteralGrill mentions without going into any more specifics.
As of right now, Nintendo has issued no statement of any kind regarding the situation developing in the Smash community.