A Big Super Smash Bros. tournament canceled plans to move online amid the coronavirus pandemic, following an official order from Nintendo. As Polygon reported, The Big House — usually one of the biggest Smash competitions of the year — announced yesterday that they are closing events in early December and offering refunds. “The Big House is heartbroken to share we’ve received a cease and desist from Nintendo,” wrote the organizers on Twitter. “We are forced to comply with the order and cancel The Big House Online.”
Nintendo objected to organizers using Slippi, the software that made Super Smash Bros. Melee can play online. The GameCube 2001 title is a mainstay in the competition, and translating its blisteringly fast gameplay from in-person tournament requires unofficial modding.
However, in a statement to Polygon, Nintendo rejected the decision. “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,” said a spokesman.
“Unfortunately, the upcoming Big House tournament announced plans to host an online tournament for Super Smash Bros. Melee that requires the 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.”
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The Big House Online, which has been held annually since 2011, also includes the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament. That competition has also been canceled.
Nintendo has complicated relationships with the Smash community and the biggest video game world, mostly due to aggressive copyright enforcement. (The company hasn’t sold Melee or GameCube for over a decade.) In 2013, they ordered Evo — the world’s largest fighting game tournament — to close down planned Melee events before immediately overturning its decision. So it’s not a surprising move for the company, but its approach to copyright got in the way of long-running online events when there were no other options.