Nintendo has ordered the shutdown of a fan-run online Super Smash Bros. tournament over the use of a homebrew mod meant to enable online play for Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Community-run tournament The Big House has announced (via a statement on Twitter) that Nintendo has issued a cease-and-desist order to the tournament’s organizers, shutting down a 2-day long online event for both the older Super Smash Bros. Melee and the newer Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
In a statement to Kotaku, Nintendo stated that its objections to the tournament lay with its use of emulated versions of Super Smash Bros. Melee and a mod known as “Slippi” that implements rollback netcode for the GameCube-era fighting game. Super Smash Bros. Melee competitive players currently use the Dolphin emulator and Slippi in order to arrange competitive matches online.
The Super Smash Bros. publisher alleged that it originally reached out to tournament organizers privately to ask them to not run the event using this software. When organizers “refused,” it said it issued the cease-and-desist order.
Nintendo’s actions here exacerbate tensions that are already amplified by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Big House tournament normally takes place in person, something that’s not possible as novel coronavirus cases in the United States rise at a rapid pace.
Moving to online using mods and emulators that violate Nintendo’s terms of service is a safer option for the competitors but it exposes organizers to legal threats from a company that has been willing to crack down on fan-run Melee tournaments in the past.