The past 24 hours have been crazy for members of the FGC (Fighting Game Community), especially for fans of the Nintendo GameCube classic, Super Smash Bros Melee.
2013 edition of the Evo Championship Series goes down in just two shorts days. Evo has long been THE place for virtual pugilists to have their final throw-downs, but the rest of the world is starting to notice; Evo 2011’s livestream had over 2 million viewers. No word on what the numbers were for last year, but it’s assumed to be just as impressive, perhaps even more so.
Anyhow, what will make this year’s tournament extra special is how Super Smash Bros Melee will be a key attraction, the most beloved installment of a franchise that, as a whole, is not taken very seriously by certain members of the FGC. Many claim that Smash isn’t even a fighting game to begin with.
The Penny Arcade Report yesterday published a great rundown of Smash’s long-awaited return to Evo, which largely involved a fan-funded donation drive that generated close to $100,000 for breast cancer research. It also details some of the backstory and drama of various prominent Smash players, as well as reasons why the much older GameCube iteration is preferred over the more recent, and theoretically superior Wii installment, Super Smash Bros Brawl.
Then, out of nowhere yesterday, Nintendo demanded that Melee be dropped from the Evo live stream. No real justification was stated, other than how Evo simply didn’t have permission. This resulted in the livestream schedule being changed, though more importantly, many becoming very upset, enough to prompt an online petition getting drafted.
But just a few hours later Tom “inkblot” Cannon, co-founder of EVO, posted the following update:
“I’ve just received word from Nintendo that the Evo Smash Bros. Melee stream will be allowed to proceed. We will be restoring the original stream and tournament schedules. Obviously this is a huge relief for all of us here and we’re thrilled that the world will get to see the best Smash players fight it out this weekend. Thanks to everyone online who supported both Evo and Smash, and thanks to Nintendo for allowing us to stream their game.”
So it’s a happy ending after-all. Still, many were befuddled by Nintendo’s actions, and some still are. It’s long been a company that has been build by its dedicated and passionate fan base. A vital segment of their users that Nintendo has regularly acknowledged, even rewarded… provided if they happen to line up with their own plans.
There are those who feel that yesterday’s misstep is just another example of Nintendo not caring about hardcore players. It’s always been concerned with its family friendly image, and given how derisive the FGC is, it’s not such an odd assumption.
Though another possible reason is how the Evo livestreams often run ads alongside and between matches. Revenue that Nintendo would not receive. And given how Nintendo recently went after various popular Lets Play YouTube channel, this might just another step of them taking a greater hold of their IPs online.