Nintendo Forces The Big House to Cancel Over Melee’s Project Slippi Mod

by in Fighting Game News | Nov, 19th 2020

Nintendo has forced The Big House 10 Online to cancel due to their usage of the Dolphin emulator and Project Slippi for Super Smash Bros Melee online play. As a result of this, the entire event has been cancelled including the Super Smash Bros Ultimate event.

Nintendo Cancels Smash Event Over Netcode Program, Piracy

The Big House broke the news to thousands of heartbroken fans on Thursday afternoon, shattering the expectations of folks ready to compete or tune in on December 4-6. 

“The Big House is heartbroken to share we’ve received a cease and desist from Nintendo of America, Inc. to cancel our upcoming online event,” The Big House said in a statement on Twitter. “We were informed we do not have permission to host or broadcast the event, primarily due to the usage of Slippi. We are forced to comply with the order and cancel The Big House Online for both Melee and Ultimate.”

Nintendo seems to be wanting to protect their IP from being displayed using unauthorized software and piracy. The company did not specify the nature of these “illegally copied” versions of the game The Big House was planning on using, even though they could be entirely legitimate ISOs of owners’ copies of Super Smash Bros Melee. 

“Nintendo appreciates the love and dedication the fighting game community has for the Super Smash Bros series,” Nintendo’s statement to various outlets reads, via Kotaku.  “We have partnered with numerous Super Smash Bros tournaments in the past and have hosted our own online and offline tournaments for the game, and we plan to continue that support in the future. Unfortunately, the upcoming Big House tournament announced plans to host an online tournament for Super Smash Bros Melee that requires 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.”

Of course, this led to the developer of Project Slippi making his own statement, saying that he only wanted to facilitate online games better than was currently possible. Indeed, netplay wasn’t originally part of Super Smash Bros Melee at all, and was only made possible thanks to emulation, and eventually the innovation of the Project Slippi team for implementing rollback netcode. 

“With Slippi online, I’ve worked hard to create as close to an authentic, in-person experience as possible,” Slippi developer Jas “Fizzi” Laferriere said. “The Melee community has been clear in expressing their gratitude. It has enabled competing in and watching top-level competition without requiring risky gatherings. I am disappointed that Nintendo is restricting our ability to power through these hard times.”

The Community Starts the Revolution to #FreeMelee

Never one to take attacks on their community laying down, the Super Smash Bros community has responded in force, with well over 500,000 negative tweets aimed at Nintendo of America, Nintendo CEO Doug Bowser, and various other Nintendo accounts. This is in addition to starting the hashtag #FreeMelee, which we’ve collected some of the best tweets from around the community below.

“Of all the shit from Nintendo, this takes the prize,” Adam “Armada” Lindgren, long considered one of the Gods of Melee before his retirement, said. “It’s a global pandemic going on and Nintendo once again wants the competitive scene to suffer. Is it too much to ask that people can play and compete in games from home during this time?”

Juan “Hungrybox” Dibiedma posted an 11 minute video to his channel to state his dismay at the situation, saying that this is the “beginning of the end” for Melee, and that either COVID dies, or Melee dies. Given that Smash Melee events and indeed, many events for the FGC, can’t return until the pandemic ends, online was the only option for survival. 

“What is the actual point of doing this?” Hungrybox said, the emotion clear in his voice.

“Why are you taking away the one thing this community has left? What is to be gained? Do you think it affects sales of Ultimate? Nintendo, you are a company. We haven’t seen eye to eye on so many things, and I get that there are legal ramifications, but instead of just going so far as to pluck this beautiful spectator sport away from the last clutches of what we have, why not compromise? What is truly the big deal about this? The people are simply showing you what we’ve desired this whole time – an online form of Melee. An online form of any Smash game that has a decent netcode that allows us to enjoy the game from a distance, especially in the time of a crisis. And frankly, I won’t stand for it. The one chance that people had to grind the game, moreso than ever before against people with beautiful netcode, and you’re telling me that’s gone? Then what chance does Melee have? If this is the case, Melee online and Melee in a pandemic can no longer exist.”

And that’s just a small sample of the many, many reactions you can see by hitting up the #FreeMelee hashtag on Twitter.

Nintendo’s Making a Mistake They’ve Made Before

Nintendo’s legal team famously made the mistake of raising the Smash community’s ire during Evo 2013. Super Smash Bros Melee was set to make a triumphant comeback to the event as they had raised nearly $100,000 for cancer research as part of a community choice drive to decide Evo’s last game.

At the 11th hour, Nintendo decided to pull the plug. This was due in large part to Nintendo’s legal team at the time deciding that they had to protect the IP, and was also due to their desire to promote Super Smash Bros Brawl at the time. 

This led to massive community backlash, and Nintendo eventually relented, allowing the event to go on as originally planned. This sparked a renaissance for the Melee scene, with several events popping up and getting even more popular as a result of Nintendo’s apparent support.

Now, due to the involvement of Project Slippi and perceived risk to the Super Smash Bros IP once again due to its use of emulated copies of Melee, they’re repeating their mistakes here with The Big House. However, there have been court cases proving that emulation is in itself not illegal, so long as the person in question owns a copy of the game they are emulating. Clearly, most Smash Melee tournament players would own a copy of the game, and those that don’t are in the minority or could easily obtain one. 


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