Nintendo Clashes with eSports Community Over Streaming Permission

Brian Uhler

When a premier eSports tournament series wanted to livestream its professional tournament of a game released by video game developer Nintendo, Nintendo’s attempt to block the tournament series from streaming the event sparked widespread backlash from the video game community.

In 2013, the fighting game tournament series Evolution hosted its 12th edition of the Evolution Championship Series:  EVO 2013. The tournament, hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada, was the largest fighting game tournament to date. The EVO staff was to feature seven video games at its professional eSports tournament, but ultimately decided to add an eighth game to the lineup. To determine that game, the EVO staff held a donation drive for breast cancer research. The community for Super Smash Bros. Melee, a fighting game released by Nintendo in 2001, raised nearly $95,000 and claimed the final spot at EVO 2013.[1] The tournament broke the record for the largest Smash Bros. tournament at the time, with 709 entrants for Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Nintendo, however, had other ideas. Nintendo notified the EVO staff that the tournament series did not have permission to broadcast Super Smash Bros. Melee at EVO 2013.[2] This was an anomaly; after all, EVO received no such streaming ban from the makers of the other titles set to stream at the tournament such as Warner Bros.’ game “Injustice” or Capcom’s game “Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.”[3] EVO co-founder Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar stated that neither he nor the EVO staff would take any action against Nintendo. Cuellar said that Nintendo wanted to shut down not only EVO’s stream of its Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament bracket, but the entire Super Smash Bros. Melee competition itself. After some back-and-forth between Nintendo and the EVO staff, Nintendo agreed to shut down the stream but not the competition. In an interview, Cuellar stated that he and the EVO staff respected Nintendo’s intellectual property and their decision to protect it, and they were going to fully comply with the demands of Nintendo’s legal department.[4]

Hours after Nintendo blocked EVO from streaming its Super Smash Bros. Melee bracket, Nintendo reversed its decision amid severe backlash from the video game community.[5] Cuellar said that EVO’s staff did nothing to get Nintendo to reverse its decision, but instead stated his belief that the reversal was due to the bad PR Nintendo had received in those few short hours since its decision to ban EVO’s livestream.[6] According to members of the Super Smash Bros. Melee community, EVO 2013 was a landmark tournament that helped catapult the game from a small, grassroots-esque scene into a professional eSport.[7]

While video game fans may have won the battle of EVO 2013, they seem to have lost the war. In February 2022, Evolution, now owned by Sony, revealed that the current Super Smash Bros. game, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, would not be featured at EVO 2022 and that no Super Smash Bros. title would ever return to EVO.[8] The organizers of EVO 2022 stated that they were sorry that Nintendo had decided to discontinue the shared legacy between EVO and Nintendo. While this was disappointing for fans of the Smash Bros. series, their community has continued to press onward. Super Smash Bros. Melee professional and EVO winner Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma recommended that Smash Bros. players host their own version of the tournament to continue the tradition despite the disapproval from the creators of their favorite game.[9]


[1] Tournament:  EVO 2013, [] [] (last visited Sept. 26, 2022).

[2] Stephen Tolito, Nintendo Won't Let Top Fighting Game Tournament Stream 'Smash Bros', Kotaku (July 9, 2013), [] []. 

[3] Id.

[4] Jenna Pitcher, Nintendo Wanted to Shut Down Super Smash Bros. Melee Evo Event, Not Just Stream, Polygon (July 11, 2013), [] [].

[5] Luke Plunkett, Nintendo Changes Mind, Allows Smash Bros. Streaming, Kotaku (July 9, 2013), [] [].

[6] Pitcher, supra note 4.

[7] Tournament:  EVO 2013, [] [] (last visited Sept. 26, 2022).

[8] Geralt of Sanctuary, No Smash Bros. Ultimate at Evo 2022 Because of Nintendo, iGames News (Feb. 26, 2022), [] [].

[9] Id.