It was announced recently on Shoryuken.com, the site behind the annual Evolution Fighting game championships, that Super Smash Bros. Melee would not be streaming live during the tournament, unlike every other game being played. And then it was announced that it would, in fact, be streaming just a few hours later.
Tuesday afternoon, a post from Tom Cannon on Shoryuken.com read, “Regrettably, we’ve just been informed by Nintendo of America Inc. that we do not have permission to broadcast Super Smash Bros. Melee for Evo 2013.”
The news, obviously, resulted in outrage from Smash Bros. and Evo 2013 fans alike. The tournament organizers had originally planned to run a mix of clips from Persona 4 Arena and King of Fighters 13 during the Smash Bros. tournament, but the turnaround from Nintendo was surprisingly fast.
Just a few hours later, Shoryuken.com was updated with the following:
“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.”
The drama before the restoration was especially frustrating for fans after the road the game took to get back to the stage. It was added to the lineup as part of a donation drive toward breast cancer research. Smash fans raised nearly $100,000 for their cause, beating the next highest game by more than $15,000. The game hadn’t been at Evo since 2007, and little did the world outside know, this was a long-awaited return. The streaming wouldn’t have bumped the game from the tournament, but streaming the competition for the fans is obviously a major part.
As for Nintendo’s role in this, this is just the latest in Nintendo’s misadventures with new technology. Earlier this year, Nintendo began forcing ads onto Let’s Play videos posted by fans featuring their games, eliciting protests from both casual and more invested Let’s Players. Nintendo eventually reversed the decision on that as well.
As to why this happened in the first place: Nintendo, like any other company, has a brand image to protect. Issues regarding sexism and other problems highlighted some of the negative aspects of the greater gaming community, despite the better reputation of Evo itself. The likely situation was that someone at Nintendo denied the permission without looking into what exactly it was. Brand specialist Kyle Mercury told me on Twitter that despite Smash’s appearance at Evo seeming small, a company like Nintendo wouldn’t consider it minor. The perceived values of the fighting game community and Nintendo being at odds would keep Nintendo out of involvement.
With all that said, if enough outrage can change the direction of an entire console release, it’s not surprising that it can change the appearance of a 12-year-old game at a fighting championship.
The Internet is a roller coaster, you guys. Soon they’ll be describing roller coasters by comparing them to the Internet instead of the other way around.