Shortly after The Big House’s cancellation, the hashtag #FreeMelee caught on. A few days later, an anonymous twitlonger was published and spawned massive outrage. As a result, #SaveSmash joined #FreeMelee as a popular hashtag. The aforementioned twitlonger can be viewed below:
Why did this twitlonger spark such emotion? It alleges that Nintendo has been harming the Smash community. The anonymous poster claims that Nintendo prevented numerous esports organizations and companies from letting Smash grow. Notably Twitch was supposedly in talks with Nintendo. This would have started in 2015 with the intent being the creation of a Smash circuit featuring Melee and Smash Wii U. If everything claimed is true, Twitch would’ve fronted all costs for the budget. This would result in Twitch spending millions every year, and Nintendo would own the branding rights. These talks would give Twitch hope that they were close, but Nintendo would leave months without an answer and thus delay progress.
Supposedly, things changed in 2018. The post claims Nintendo and Twitch made a contractual agreement at that time. However, Nintendo stopped responding to Twitch, and later announced Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It’s alleged that Nintendo cancelled their agreement with Twitch after the announcement. Reputedly, Nintendo claimed to want to test the waters for Ultimate and see how the community reacts to the game before there’d be a chance of resuming talks in a year. As of November 23rd, 2020, Nintendo has allegedly not resumed the talks.
As aforementioned, Twitch is not the only entity outlined in these alleged claims. The likes of Eleague, HTC, ESL, MLG, and even Red Bull have all, allegedly, tried to front costs for Nintendo to create events but Nintendo made no attempt on their part. If the allegations are factual, this means Nintendo denied permission to all of these.
Many Smash fans are, understandably, distraught about this seeming turn of events. For a lot of competitors the scene getting financial support and major prize pools is a dream. If all these claims hold merit, that means that dream was killed by Nintendo. For many, it looks like Nintendo uses the community’s events as a marketing tool but also seeks to limit growth and keep Smash at a grassroots-level.
The twitlonger also claims that events hosting Project M were never given a cease and desist order. It says Nintendo talked to streamers and tournament organizers. Nintendo is said to have implied that supporting Project M was the main reason they didn’t financially support the Smash scenes. The writer claims that streamers and tournament organizers told them this and believed that dropping Project M would help an official Smash circuit be created. So, if these claims are true, it would seem that Project M died for no benefit at all to the community. Given comments from community figures like Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby, Adam “Armada” Lindgren and Arian “Blur” Fathieh, these claims have been given some credibility.
Honestly, none of this is a surprise, with some of this being rumors I've heard from credible sources.— Liquid | Dabuz (@DabuzSenpai) November 24, 2020
I wish Nintendo wasn't involved in smash esports at all, they just prevent our growth and it's downright disgusting#SaveSmash https://t.co/QKMy2ORaEn
Required reading for the #freemelee #savesmash gang— The Crimson Blur (@OXY_Crimson) November 24, 2020
Obv I would be involved in a lot (well, all) of things listed here, so I'm not sure what I can say but ... this is remarkably well researched. Impressive
The Blur memoir would have some JUICE I tell yahttps://t.co/hAGndbDj4A
Needless to say, many in the Smash community are angry. That anger didn’t just translate into rants though. It inspired others to come out and talk about things Nintendo did that they heard, experienced or claimed to know. Figures such as Clash Tournaments founder Christina “Chia” Korsak, the now defunct Project NX’s lead developer Felipe “Nyx” Monteiro, Vortex CEO Chris “CAKOvalik” Kovalik all voiced their alleged experiences with Nintendo. CAKOvalik’s statement was also corroborated to us by a former Wavedash Games employee who wishes to stay anonymous.
Welp, while we are at it, I am releasing the mail Nintendo sent me to "inform me" about their Intellectual Property, which made me take the decision to stop development of ProjectNX.#SaveSmash #FreeMelee #FreePM pic.twitter.com/9ZTM4QL2jp— NyxTheShield (@NyxTheShield) November 24, 2020
They threatened Icons as well.— CAKOvalik (@CAKovalik) November 26, 2020
I was there in person when it happened. Best not to go into details but basically we were warned to "watch out" because "we may or may not have certain patents on mechanics necessary for this genre of fighter."— CAKOvalik (@CAKovalik) November 27, 2020
Former Editor-in-Chief of Smashboards, Linnea “LiteralGrill” Capps, made a Twitter thread alleging that she knew more about Project M’s death. She brings up audio evidence in the form of an unreleased Smashboards interview with Alex Strife, and while we at Smashboards will not share it as it contains sensitive information, we can confirm it does in fact exist. She claimed that Twitch pressured Apex to drop Project M, not Nintendo and that they paid streamers to take Project M off their channels. She also allegedly heard and saw other companies attempting to set up events and take similar actions against Project M in the process. She assumes that Nintendo talked these companies and streamers into dropping the game before not holding up their end of the deal.
The outcry also extended beyond the immediate Smash community. A notable example of this is that members of the Splatoon and ARMS communities such as Angel “AngleBagel” Luna and Danny “HanukkahJamboree” Cohen expressed solidarity. AngleBagel stated that Nintendo still hadn’t given him his 1st place prize from the last time his team won, which would've been $25. HannukahJamboree made a twitlonger detailing and alleging things Nintendo had done to the ARMS community. Perhaps most notable among the allegations is that he allegedly heard an anonymous top ARMS player get invited to dinner with a Nintendo representative. This top player claims they were told that Nintendo is scared the competitive scene would drive off casual players and harm sales. He then goes on to say
The initial idea appears to have been: market the game as a competitive fighter that was highly accessible, run a few events, and then all competitive support would be dropped in favor of party style gameplay modes rolled out once every month or so. Leaving the competitive community to form itself while still attempting to profit off their success felt disheartening, and many recognized it as something that was done to Sm4sh, as well.
@ Smash community— Bagel (@AngleBagel) November 24, 2020
The Splatoon Community is for #FreeMelee #SaveSmash , don't be fooled by Nintendo showing a tiny bit of support to splatoon with The Open. Besides 1st place prize is literally $25 and last time I won with my team and I never received my $25 lmao
Nintendo’s alleged actions have garnered a lot of attention. Currently, a large part of the gaming community shares a certain sentiment; Nintendo isn’t trustworthy. What effects this sentiment will hold on the future are yet to be seen. While Nintendo made a statement earlier to Polygon addressing their cancellation of The Big House, they still have not commented on #SaveSmash or the anonymous twitlonger.
Author's Note: I personally believe that the vast majority of these allegations are true and I think it's ridiculous that Nintendo acts in such a way. Like, yeah, I get it, they want full control over how the public sees their intellectual properties. Still doesn't mean they need to give people false hope and then rip it away. A lot of these actions appear rather malevolent to me, like, really, offering prizes as small as $25 and then caring so little that they apparently forgot to even pay that amount? That's just cruel. What do you think though? Please let us know in the comments below!
Editing: @Scribe @Thirdkoopa Venus of the Desert Bloom
Social Media: Zerp