Nintendo of America have issued a cease and desist order to Smash Bros. tournament The Big House, for using an emulator with netplay.
The Big House state they are “the largest open Super Smash Brothers event series in the fall,” acting as both a convention and tournament since 2011. The 2020 event was going to take place purely online (from December 4th to December 10th) due to the coronavirus pandemic, and feature Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
However, the group have now announced that this year’s tournament has been cancelled after a cease and desist letter from Nintendo of America.
“The Big House is heartbroken to share we’ve received a cease and desist from Nintendo of America, Inc. to cancel our upcoming online event.
We were informed we do not have permission to host or broadcast the event, primarily due to the usage of Slippi. Sadly, all our competitions are affected.
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.”
Slippi is a program that allows netplay for games on Dolphin GameCube and Wii emulators; most likely what would have been used for the Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament. As such, it could be seen that the event would have “promoted” pirating the GameCube game.
Due to the discussion of refund information, it may be that the event was also cancelled due to Nintendo not receiving a cut of revenue from entrants to the event. The event was also seeking sponsors.
The announcement has led to outcry; with comments accusing Nintendo of cancelling the event for reasons beyond the use of an emulator.
These portray Nintendo as jealous of a program that has better online than their own game (Slippi features rollback netcode while Ultimate does not), or attempting to keep a tyrannical hold over a game they no longer sell. The latter has also led to fresh discussion of fan games Nintendo have issues cease and desist orders to.
Robin Harn, the host of The Big House, also shared the news of the cancellation, and his own disappointment.
“I am very disappointed that the one year our only option is to play online during the pandemic is also when we are told that path has been shut down.
I don’t have all the answers, but I still believe Melee will find a way.
We always have and will again.
We have all put years of our lives into this game, and many of my fondest memories are thanks to this community. Which is why we need to be in this together the most right now. This is more than The Big House.”
UPDATE: Dot Esports reports (via VENN TV’s Games Editorial Director Patrick Shanley) that Nintendo have issued a statement. Therein, Nintendo revealed they had contacted The Big House organizers before and asked them not to use Slippi. After they refused, Nintendo issued the cease and desist to “protect its intellectual property and brands.”
“Nintendo appreciates the love and dedication the fighting game community has for the Super Smash Bros. series. We have partnered with numerous Super Smash Bros. tournaments in the past and have hosted our own online and offline tournaments for the game, and we plan to continue that support in the future. 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. 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.”