A couple of weeks ago, Team Liquid’s Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma made headlines when he got on stage after winning the Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament at Smash ‘N’ Splash 3. Rather than making a victory speech, Hungrybox addressed Nintendo, calling them out for their lack of official support for the competitive Smash scene. For players like him and many others, it’s a lifestyle that has grown on years of dedicated fan support.
Kotaku caught up with Nintendo of America’s president, Reggie “My Body is Ready” Fils-Aime. Stephen Totilo asked him about Hungrybox’s speech, to which Fils-Aime had a somewhat lukewarm response about keeping the competitive scene “grassroots.”
“We’ve been in this social competitive space for a long time,” Fils-Aime said. “Smash Bros. Melee has been a mainstay in the competitive gaming space for a long time. What we’re doing — and our take on his space is we want to encourage the community. We want to enable them to put on tournaments and to have fun and for the players themselves to participate in these types of situations. That’s our view of this space.”
Fils-Aime pointed out that it’s not crystal clear what Hungrybox actually would want. The pro player followed up in an email:
What I meant by ‘push’ was not to ‘challenge,’ but to support.
I feel that Nintendo could actually use the cult following that competitive Smash has accrued to their benefit. Similar to how Capcom runs the Capcom Cup circuit, it allows:
a) a larger audience be exposed to competitive gaming (many casual gamers have no idea it exists)
b) have potential for a large worldwide circuit + having it be broadcast on cable networks (see: ELEAGUE)
c) have a massive bolster in Smash popularity if it came to re-releasing Virtual Console titles and ESPECIALLY a Smash 4 Port to the Switch
d) open the doors to an entirely new branch of Nintendo (Nintendo Versus hinted at this, but to make it something that people could earn money from is a whole new animal)
The president, however, seems to remain adamant about keeping the competitive Smash scene mostly driven by fans and organizers:
“It’s community-oriented. It’s enabling the community to drive it forward. We have relationships, obviously, with entities like Evo and Battlefly. We want to do this much more at a grassroots level than others’ visions around leagues and big up-front payments and things of that nature.”
It seems that something along the lines of an ELEAGUE or official circuit isn’t coming any time soon. To that, Hungrybox diplomatically responded, “I hope the best for the future and I respect Reggie and the Nintendo execs more than words can describe,” he said.”It just is always a dismay for our parent company to not see a venture in the same golden light we’ve been viewing it for over a decade.”
Read up on the full story over on Kotaku’s Compete.