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The tournament organizers behind Riptide announced on Friday that they are removing Brawl mod Project+ from their upcoming Super Smash Bros. major at Nintendo’s request.
“Riptide was contacted recently by a Nintendo of America, Inc. representative regarding our Project+ events,” their statement read. “As a result of that conversation, there will be no Project+ tournaments or setups at Riptide. We understand the impact of this news for the Project+ community. We will be contacting all attendees registered for Project+ events with further information and the updated refund request procedure shortly.”
— Riptide (@RiptideSSB) August 27, 2021
The Riptide team initially planned on hosting Singles and Doubles events for Project+, the successor to Project M. It would have appeared alongside a lineup of games including Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Rivals of Aether and Splatoon 2. Brackets for these games are still slated to take place from Sept. 10-12.
Business as usual for Nintendo
The cancellation of Riptide’s Project+ tournaments is the latest in a series of business decisions that has earned Nintendo the ire of the competitive Smash community. These decisions extend as far back as 2013, when Nintendo tried to cancel Evo 2013’s Melee bracket and, later, livestream.
More recently, Nintendo urged the TOs of The Big House not to host an online Melee tournament in 2020 using Slippi, a fanmade software that, among other things, added rollback netcode to the nearly 20-year-old Melee. When they refused, Nintendo issued a cease and desist. This prevented The Big House from streaming events for either Melee or Ultimate.
Nintendo justified its actions against The Big House by claiming Slippi “requires use of illegally copied versions of the game.” While Slippi can be played using a pirated Melee ISO, it does not require players to use an illegal copy of the game.
Nintendo has historically targeted modified versions of its games like Project+. One example is ProjectNX, a Smash Ultimate mod that ceased development after a Nintendo representative told developer Felipe “NyxTheShield” Montero that ProjectNX “would likely make unauthorized use of the Nintendo IP.”
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
“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,” NyxTheShield tweeted.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that players could freely modify any fairly purchased game for personal enjoyment in a 1992 court case that Nintendo lost. In any case, Nintendo has the exclusive legal right to publicly display its games. By extension, it has the ability to shut down any broadcast of its games for any reason. As a result, the Riptide team likely canceled their Project+ events to avoid a cease and desist of their whole broadcast like The Big House previously incurred.
Smash community responds to Riptide’s cancellation of Project+ events
The broader Smash community has rallied behind the Project+ community following the game’s removal from Riptide. Top Melee player Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma called Nintendo’s actions “unforgivable.” Meanwhile, Slippi developer Jas “Fizzi” Laferriere stated he was sad for the Project+ community.
Reminder that Brawl doesn’t even have active online servers anymore. It came out in 2008.
This is unforgivable at this point. There’s no legitimate reason for @Nintendo to do this that doesn’t include a complete disconnect with the current culture of their consumers.
— hungrybox (@LiquidHbox) August 27, 2021
Some game companies embrace their modding communities and end up turning those mods into games that generate years of revenue for themselves.
Nintendo instead tries to stomp out anything that smells like a mod, spurning their biggest fans.
I'm sad for the P+/PM community. https://t.co/iXfSVP8NRA
— Jas | FIZZI#36 (@Fizzi36) August 27, 2021
“Some game companies embrace their modding communities and end up turning those mods into games that generate years of revenue for themselves,” Fizzi tweeted. “Nintendo instead tries to stomp out anything that smells like a mod, spurning their biggest fans. I’m sad for the P+/PM community.”
There have been talks of Project+ players still going to Riptide in order to host an unofficial tournament. Even so, players have taken to Twitter with hashtags like #SaveSmash and #FreePM in protest of what they view as Nintendo’s latest attack on the Smash community.
Dylan Tate is an alumnus of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a gaming journalist with a love for Nintendo esports, particularly Super Smash Bros. and Pokémon.