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New Nintendo Community Tournament Guidelines are troubling for Smash esports

By Olivia Richman


Oct 24, 2023

Reading time: 3 min

It’s a well known fact that Nintendo and the competitive Super Smash Bros. community have beef. Now, it looks like Nintendo is cracking down on community tournament regulations in an attempt to limit the esports side of Smash even more.

In Community Tournament Guidelines released today, Nintendo wrote: “Nintendo cares about the community and would like to support individuals who want to celebrate that passion by creating memorable co-operative and competitive play experiences. At the same time, we want to ensure that fans who are doing so are engaging with our games, characters, and worlds in a way that positively supports other fans, players, and Nintendo.”

Here are the most concerning updates.

Smash LANs entrants and prize pool impacted

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In the new guidelines, Nintendo claimed that in-person tournaments could only have 200 participants. This not only reduces the amount of competitors significantly for Majors but greatly reduces the amount of entry fees collected by struggling tournament organizers.

Not only that, but Nintendo stated that entry fees have be capped at $20 per person and entry fees can no longer be used towards prize pools. This is horrible news for many tournament organizers who rely on entries and merch purchases to offer a solid payout for competitors.

But even without this regulation, it looks like Nintendo is finding any way possible to reduce prize pools in a possible attempt to dissuade competitors from participating. Now, no prize may exceed a market value of $5,000. And over a 12-month period, community tournaments can only offer $10,000 total, ruining most circuits.

As if the Smash community hasn’t struggled with low prize payouts already due to a lack of developer support.

In addition, Nintendo has banned all use of their IPs in titles of tournament activities or for use in merch and designs. An example of a no longer permitted title would be: “Super Smash Bros. Challenge.” Huh? TOs will also no longer be able to use the word Smash or show Smash characters on merch or designs throughout the tournament, which can further impact sales.

Online tournaments, especially Melee, in limbo

These changes also impact online tournaments, including Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma’s weekly CoinBox tournament that goes well over this prize pool limitation.

But that’s just Ultimate. Melee is looking to have an even scarier future due to this regulation: “Games with online play must use the online gameplay services and/or servers officially provided by Nintendo.”

Right now, Melee (a game that’s over 20 years old) relies on Slippi to comfortably function online. Slippi is essentially improved netplay that allows for seamless online matches with reduced lag to ensure the game is competitively viable.

With Nintendo claiming that Melee must go back to Nintendo’s online services, online Melee could potentially be dead.

Nintendo doubles down on Smash mods

Another concerning line read: “Pirated or modified versions of Nintendo games must not be used.”

Nintendo has long been against modified versions of their games, making Project P+ and other similar Smash mods illegal. Tournament organizers were already hiding these matches in adjacent hotels to get around Nintendo’s regulations.

Now, Nintendo is doubling down on this rule in an attempt to shut down these passion projects for good.

All in all, this is a very concerning update for competitive Smash. But knowing the community, they will still find a way to continue doing what they love.


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