Nintendo’s relationship with competitive Smash community becomes more complicated after scandal

Earlier this month, the fighting game community erupted with accusations of sexual misconduct at all levels, from top-tier professionals, commentators, and organizers. The allegations focused largely on the Super Smash Bros. fighting game community, and, in a rare move by the Japanese company, Nintendo released a statement in support of the victims. “At Nintendo, we are deeply concerned about the allegations brought against certain members of the gaming community competition,” Nintendo said in a statement when asked by IGN. “They are absolutely inadmissible. We want to make it clear that we condemn all acts of violence, harassment and exploitation against anyone and that we support the victims. “

The statement is rare because Nintendo has historically distanced itself from the Super Smash Bros. fighting game scene. Unlike companies like Riot or Blizzard, which work directly to manage the competitive scene created around their games, Nintendo has distanced itself from dedication and has even actively worked against a community that loves their fighting games.The statement caused a stir in the Smash community precisely because Nintendo does not often associate with grassroots fighting game organizations: “It is official. Nintendo is disconnecting. We’re screwed, ”a fan tweeted in response to the statement.

“Well, well, Nintendo has never supported the competitive scene. Now they want to complain about that. What a plot twist, ”commented another.

“From the perspective of the Smash community, [Nintendo] It appears to be relatively selective and as unobtrusive as possible, “said Christina” Chia “Korsak, a 14-year veteran of the Smash Bros. community, in an interview with IGN.

This means that Super Smash Bros. fighting game tournaments are generally grassroots, third-party, and technically unofficial. Rather than antipathy, Nintendo Corporate has a history of cracking down on Smash, the grassroots competitor.

Being a Nintendo sponsored event we didn’t really get much but had to comply with certain restrictions …

In 2013, Evo ran a donation drive to determine which video game would rank eighth on the show’s list. The community that donated the most money would win a spot for their chosen game in Evo 2013, and the Smash Bros. community managed to “win” a spot for Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Despite this affable campaign, Nintendo first attempted to prevent Smash Bros. from appearing in Evo, before attempting to block live streams of the event game. After a protest, Nintendo backed down and was allowed to continue a Smash Bros. Melee tournament. But Nintendo’s resistance would influence the community’s relationship with the developer for years to come.

Lack of official sponsorship did not deter the Smash Bros community. Artist Jaqueline “Jisu” Choe described the smaller grassroots events as “discreet and welcoming.”

Choe says the Smash community became what it is because Smash fans took it upon themselves to build the scene. “If it weren’t for the active volunteer work of many smart and capable people, then tournaments simply wouldn’t exist. Much of the important work is thankless, so there is no incentive to defend it. ”

While the camaraderie of the popular scene caused the community to close, Choe says he left the door open to disorganization and that there was a limitation on what the community could organize on its own. “A lot of responsibility is lost … Simple business transactions are also clouded by the disguise of ‘friendships’ and things can get very messy and ugly very quickly.”

Earlier this month, professional Smash 4 player Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios apologized to Choe and another community member named Katie after admitting that he inappropriately flirted with Katie when she was 15 years old.

All Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighter

In 2015, Nintendo began sponsoring a handful of fighting game tournaments and events. This meant that there were some Nintendo booths and demo kiosks, but Korsak says this was not a huge improvement, and far from the level of support shown by other developers and publishers adjacent to fighting games.

“From the audience that was watching, we had some game demos or Nintendo stands at some events, and maybe some tweets about the events. However, there are no grand prizes or organizations of any kind.”

While Korsak says community recognition was beneficial, it was not generally the embrace the community expected. “Being a Nintendo sponsored event, we didn’t really get much but had to comply with certain restrictions, such as not playing third-party modified games like Project M at events, not using other game modifications like 20XX, streaming restrictions with certain licensed music tracks and more. “


I think all the events that happened will either get you in or keep you away permanently.

It is likely to be of no help to future relationships that Nintendo’s sparse openings to the community have also been caught in the crossfire of the scandal. Smash Bros. pro Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada was one of the community members accused of sexual misconduct. They have been removed from their NRG esports team, and videos of them appearing in official Nintendo clips have been removed from the company’s YouTube channel.

Still, Nintendo’s distance from the competitive Smash Bros. scene is known and felt by the community, and fans are finally hurting that Nintendo’s doom is one of the few statements Nintendo officially released about the Smash community.

Others, however, see possible reasoning for Nintendo: “Perhaps the community never deserved Nintendo’s attention in the first place because the community is a cesspool of toxicity,” laments a Twitter user. “The community needs to stop acting like they deserve Nintendo’s attention.”

“If Nintendo really introduced structure and organization to help facilitate stable wages and pathways for people suffering physical / sexual assault, then we would have a much cleaner scene,” Choe disagrees.When asked if he would like to see Nintendo take a more active role in the community in the future, Choe echoed similar sentiments from other members of the online community.

“I would like [see Nintendo more involved]? Yes. I think it will happen? No. Nintendo has been very firm in its beliefs, even to the dismay of many, and I believe that all the events that occurred will either bring them in or keep them away permanently. “

Ultimately, Choe says the Smash community is what it is today because of how popular it is, and that official sponsorship will take away “the beauty of what makes the community so great.”

“It’s a take-or-take situation where it is objectively better for Nintendo to be in the picture, but even without them, the scene has become one of the most unique gaming communities and will continue on its own shoulders.” . “

Matt TM Kim is an IGN reporter.