Nintendo has long been known to be a very aggressive and litigious company. Sometimes they have been justified to a degree, like taking down major ROM sites. This is not one of those times. And as far as I can tell, this is perfectly fine with the big N. Their newest batch of controversy is pretty unconscionable though, there’s not really any defending this stuff this time.
Smashing up the game
The first of the news bits concerning Nintendo recently revolves around one of their premier fighting games, Super Smash Bros. A major online tournament, one of the biggest for the franchise, was shut down. This led to the total cancellation of the Melee ‘Big House’ Tournament after legal threats from Nintendo.
I suppose you could argue the takedown of the tournament over an unofficial event is justified legally, but all it has really done is anger the community. In a statement to Polygon, Nintendo claimed that the shutdown was prompted over the use of pirated copies of the game. This led to a response of many to point out that the online versions of the game had to use modified code to work at all, because the functionality isn’t there officially. In response many gamers even shared photos and videos of their copies of the game running. It’s important to note that copyright exceptions do exist for personal backups and use, so there’s reasoning on both sides.
But hold on, it gets much worse.
Taking out charity
“Nintendo” and “Etika” began trending this week over some really not good news. For those who don’t remember Desmond “Etika” Amofah was a prolific and charismatic content creator who made a name for himself with fighting games and Nintendo products. Among his many traits were his infamous love of the Switch JoyCon. He passed away last year in an apparent suicide, leaving many in the community to mourn the loss.
In steps Cpt_Alex, another content creator. He stepped up and began producing custom JoyCon shells that would then be sold for charity to benefit the JED Foundation, a mental health organization. The initial idea was to produce the shells with funding and demand from crowdfunding, although that effort was not successful the first time, it did get major funding the second time around. The seller then took to selling custom JoyCon shells on their Etsy store after the second campaign had wrapped, trying to use the last of the stocks on hand to raise more money for charity.
Apparently, the effort had raised around $10,000 in the last year. Though the cease-and-desist demand was sent more than two months ago, it’s all just now getting public attention. What’s even more irritating is that Nintendo is not really making the right choice, even though they said they would allow the JoyCons shells to be sold, if new ones were produced.
According to a report from The Daily Dot, Cptn_Alex said Nintendo’s problem was with his use of the trademarked JoyCon being present, and that he could sell new ones if the logo and branding were absent. That would mean an expensive factory run, as you can’t simply remove or replace the branding. That’s thousands of dollars that shouldn’t have to be spent.
None of it makes sense, and it really makes Nintendo look bad. It’s especially egregious given the nature of the content being claimed. If a charity effort to help deal with mental health and suicide prevention can be considered in violation, what isn’t? Where’s the moral line for Nintendo?