Ten months. It took ten months for Nintendo – competitive gaming’s most infamous deadbeat father – to remind everyone in the world why it sucks so much. On Saturday, Riptide officially cancelled its Project+ tournament, breaking the hearts of 384 would-be entrants and thousands of others looking forward to their first national in over a year. At this point, there’s about a decade and a half of this company fucking over a small community simply trying to bring joy to people’s lives.
I could do this forever. But if you're reading this, I really want you to think about that last part. This company is stifling creativity, innovation, and joy brought to people – all because they 'technically' could own the IP.
How can anyone look at this and think it's fair?
— Edwin (@edwin_budding) August 27, 2021
To Melee players reading this: anything that happens to Project+ can affect your scene too. As a result, I have offered Sabre, a leading TO, writer, and contributor to the Project+ community, to write a guest Monday Morning Marth column in place of my usual op-ed. I believe his thoughts are fruitful and worth sharing to the Melee scene to encourage cross-grassroots solidarity.
In other news over the weekend, JCAM won the Smash World Tour Central America Regional Finals, with Far! coming in second place. The two qualified for the end-of-the-year World Finals in the United States as the Central American representatives, joining South America’s Chape and HP as two other confirmed invitees. Furthermore, Frenzy took home the gold at the U.K.’s notably off-streamed Kamp Kone tournament.
Sabre’s Guest Column
If you follow the Smash scene at all, you probably saw the news about Riptide this weekend. It was set to be one of the biggest Project M/+ events of all time. Aside from the obvious cruelty of Nintendo shutting down such a huge event just two weeks before it would take place, this is the first time that Nintendo has openly shut down Project M at a tournament which was not even affiliated with Nintendo at all.
It goes without saying that this is a gut punch for our community. Every TO whom we have been working to convince toward supporting PM might now (very reasonably) be scared to do so. Since 2015, we have been working incredibly hard to keep our scene alive without much support from the broader Smash scene. Our inclusion in 5 Days of Melee really seemed to herald the start of a new era when Project M would once again be included at nationals. So to say this is a setback is an understatement.
Sadly, it’s not the first time. In 2015, the community’s biggest streamers – including VGBC and CLASH Tournaments – were directly told by Twitch that they needed to stop streaming PM. By the end of the year, the PM Development Team had shut down. These actions, and the secrecy in which they were enshrouded, were naturally scary to the Smash scene and as a result Project M became taboo. After our game had been featured alongside the official Smash titles at events like Apex, CEO, and Big House it was suddenly excluded without a word from people who used Project M as a launching pad for their own careers.
The game was labelled “dead” and deemed dangerous to support. Notable community members stopped entering events, stopped streaming the game, and stopped talking about it entirely because the perceived risk of associating with our game was not worth it. In time, the Project M community would be almost fully isolated from the rest of the Smash community. We ran our own events because local TOs were afraid of including PM at their weeklies. We built up our own streamers on platforms like Hitbox and YouTube Gaming because we were told that it was too dangerous for big channels on Twitch to stream PM. We became our own separate community – grassroots even by Smash standards. And what did the Smash scene get in return? A few tweets, some Splatoon ads on its streams, and vague promises of developer support that never materialized.
In the years since it has become so clear that Nintendo never had the best interests of the Smash community at heart. The Melee scene has watched its events be shut down or forced to run outdated rule sets over and over by a company that would prefer it be made up of mindless consumers rather than passionate, creative individuals. The Smash 4/Ultimate scene’s best players compete at massive tournaments for laughable prizes, such as at EVO Japan where 1,800 players fought it out for a controller while smaller games with actual developer support received prize pools in the thousands of dollars. Even for the game that Nintendo ostensibly wants to support, it has failed time and again. In fact, Nintendo has actively hindered the growth of the Smash 4 and Smash Ultimate scenes by telling esports organizations interested in developing circuits and other competitive infrastructure not to do so.
Multiple Smash tournament organizers
Smash circuits by ESL, HTC, Red Bull, ELeague, MLG, and Twitch
Multiple pokemon & Mario fan projects
The Big House Online
Did I miss anything?
— Andrew Nestico 🐼🌎📊 (@PracticalTAS) November 26, 2020
In that time, the Project M community has continued to forge our own way. We were the first Smash community to have an international competitive circuit; we built our own storylines at our own events after being shut out of the traditional smash supermajors, and despite all odds we have kept this game alive year after year. Six years after the PMDT shut down, six years after we were dropped from every smash major and told we couldn’t stream on Twitch, and six years after having to restart from the ground up, we have come so far.
Some of that progress may have been temporary. After Riptide’s announcement, it’s possible that big multi-game majors can’t openly support PM in the way we had been hoping for. But if that’s the case, and if we need to return to hosting our own majors, then please don’t make us do it alone again. The Smash scene is stronger together, and we need all the help we can get when Nintendo is actively trying to harm competitive scenes. Whether you are a Melee player who watched Nintendo shut down Big House Online, an Ultimate player who sees your game’s best players compete for a controller, or just a fan of a community denied so many opportunities, this affects all of us.
So please, don’t do Nintendo’s work. Don’t isolate the Project M community again. If you have ever wanted to give P+ a shot, then head over to projectplusgame.com and download the latest patch. If you want to see what the game looks like at a top level, then check out Project M Nexus for weekly highlights featuring some of our best players. If Project M events are at a local near you, then take the plunge and join one of the most welcoming communities you could ever find. Even if you don’t want to get into Project M, there are other ways you can support us. If you run Melee or Ultimate events, it is incredibly easy to find a P+ TO who would love to run a side event at your local. If you see PM events, content, streams, or even just discussions about the game, signal boost them to help us not be drowned out by the much larger player bases from the official titles. Anything goes a long way.
At the end of the day, not a single PM player or TO ever expected our game to reach the heights of 3.02 again. We are not playing in the hope that one day our player base will grow exponentially, or that we can turn this passion into a career. We just love our game. We love the community that has formed around it. Nintendo, Twitch, six years of misinformation, and fear could not kill that love. Together, we fell in love with a game made by Smash fans for Smash fans; a game that combines the best parts of what we loved as kids – back when Nintendo was our inspiration rather than a faceless enemy that wishes we did not exist – and a game that brought us together under one community. Do not be afraid of supporting a diehard community just like your own, because that is exactly what Nintendo wants.
It can shut down our biggest tournaments, but it cannot stop us from loving our game. It cannot stop you from streaming or watching Project + on Twitch. It cannot stop you from downloading Project + and playing it at events or with your friends. It cannot kill this game unless we allow it to happen.It cannot isolate the Project M community unless we choose to do so. Nintendo has already done its worst, and we’re still here.
So let’s create a unified Smash community for the first time since 2014. No matter what you play, you are here because you love your game and found a place where you fit in with other people who share that love. We are asking that you take a step back and share that love with another community that’s hurting right now. Celebrate with us the culmination of all of these games brought together under one banner, Smash.
Long live Project M.