Nintendo yanks Super Smash Bros. streaming from EVO, just as quickly reverses decision
Update: It looks like Nintendo has hastily reversed its decision. Great news! Original story below.
Earlier today we published a story about the incredible efforts of the Super Smash Bros Melee community to survive on their own for twelve years, clawing their way into a spot at EVO 2013.
EVO is the world's largest annual fighting game tournament series, and the Smash Bros community was ecstatic about being able to take part in the official stream, where they'd reach tens of thousands of viewers. There was a lot of hype surrounding Melee at the tournament, and for good reason: Their journey is an amazing tale.
Apparently, Nintendo did not share our enthusiasm. The company has just announced that EVO does not have permission to stream the event. The Melee tournament will still happen, but the stream will not be shown, and the EVO streaming schedule has been revised.
This comes not long after Nintendo received widespread criticism for deciding to crack down on YouTube video creators using their games in Let's Play videos.
Attacking the fans
It's hard to imagine what Nintendo's strategy is here. The company has just announced a brand new game in the Super Smash Bros. series for the Wii U, a system that needs all the good publicity it can get, and the Melee EVO stream promised to promote the series to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of fresh viewers.
More than that, those viewers would be given a brand new look at the game, a new way to appreciate a series most people only think of as a party game. This was a chance for Smash Bros to find new fans.
Instead, Nintendo once again looks like the bad guy who is swooping in to shut down the people who fought so hard to share their love for the game. And now, “Melee,” “Smash Bros” and “EVO” are all top trending topics on Twitter, and for all of the worst reasons. Nintendo turned a feel-good story into massively bad PR with a single move.
Of course, the most ridiculous part of this farce is that the Smash Bros community raised $95,000 for breast cancer research just to make the EVO schedule.
So to recap, Nintendo's community rallied around a 12-year-old game and raised nearly $100,000 to cure cancer so that they could advertise the Smash Bros series to thousands of potential new players… and Nintendo decided that was a bad thing.
Over the recent weeks I've written two articles about competitive Super Smash Bros Melee. My window into that world is a wonderfully kind man named Wynton “Prog” Smith. Prog was scheduled to commentate the matches live from EVO on the stream, and he was incredibly excited about it.
Every time I talked with him he was brimming with joy about this new advancement for the community. Not many people get to be a part of a community that survives for over a decade only to blossom again so late in life. As something of a leader in the Melee community, Prog spoke to fans on a live stream to discuss the news after he found out about Nintendo's ban.
It was legitimately heartbreaking to watch. He started out strong, but as the stream went on Prog reclined farther back in his chair and sighed deeply about once per minute in front of the 1000-strong audience. It was the face of someone who wasn't angry, but disappointed.
Someone who had just worked for months to achieve something only to have it taken away at the last minute, while his bags were half-packed for Las Vegas. A little later he revealed a bottle of Jack Daniels, held by the neck, sipped from the bottle.
If you've read the PAR articles in which Prog is quoted, you might be able to tell that he has a bit of a penchant for poetic speech. He's a podcaster and commentator. He has a talent for speech, and he's given me a wonderful front-row seat to the resurrection of Melee over the past month. He gets excited, and he talks about things in a way that makes it unabashedly clear that he loves what he's talking about. Both times I asked him questions over email he replied with unstoppable 700 word essays.
Several times on the livestream he geared up to unleash one of those poetic rants I knew too well…and then stopped. Then sighed.
“We're still here no matter what,” he said on the live stream. “696 entrants. Six-hundred. And Ninty-six. Entrants, guys.”
“I'm thinking back to the EVO [fundraising] drive when Skullgirls was pulling ahead, and there was this defeatist attitude,” he said about the breast cancer fundraising competition that ultimately got Melee it's spot at EVO. “That it can't be done, it wont be done. We did it. We did it without a hitch. And y'know what, we can do it again. Let [Nintendo] know what this game means to you. Let them know what we as a community have done. Let them know what the journey has been for us to get to this point.”
“We've come so far that we're actually able to still be mentioned in the same breath as EVO in 2013,” he continued. “I wish that I could give you the magic words to tell you that everything will be OK. But I don't have the word. We're all one unit. Let them know where we truly stand.”
They haven't given up though. A group of Smash players, including Prog, are on a livestream right now spearheading an outreach effort to convince Nintendo to change their mind, while encouraging people to be polite in the process. They've only got until Friday to make it happen too. We'll be watching to see if there are any developments on this end.
Evolution 2013 will be taking place this weekend in Las Vegas. We've contacted Nintendo, and will report back if we receive any word about why they might have come to this decision.