New global Nintendo tournament guidelines have been published for community tournaments including a limit on number of entrants, how much can be charged for events and limiting support from third parties.
The guidelines were posted on October 24th 2023 and will come into effect on November 15th 2023. Wade ‘AggresiveDuck’ White takes a closer look at the new guidelines and the Smash Bros community’s response to them.
The new Nintendo tournament guidelines state that organisers may only charge up to £18 in total to attend and compete in events, and this money alone can be used for any venue fees or prize pools. If the organisers go over the limit of what would make the event “break even”, they would have to refund any profit back to the participants and spectators. They also state that a single prize can not have a value of over £4,500, with prizes given out over a 12 month period not exceeding a value equivalent of £9,000.
Guidelines also state that organisers may not receive goods, services, money etc from third parties as sponsors whilst also publicly disclosing all related costs to host the event, including entry fees, admission fees and distribution of prizes on a website and social media.
The guidelines were originally posted from the Nintendo of Japan X account at roughly 8am UK Time, with many speculating that it would only pertain to Japan due to stricter laws around gambling and esports, but an English version was posted on the Nintendo UK website (linked above). The guidelines have not been posted in any other language except English and Japanese at this current time.
Organisers do have the option to apply for a license, which allow events to go beyond what is set out in the guidelines, however it is currently unknown how these licenses will work as they are currently not available in Europe, and the Japanese version is very limited. There appear to be restrictions as some have found that the licenses only apply to Nintendo Switch titles.
Some tournament organisers have attempted to reach out to their respective country’s community managers and leads at Nintendo, but there has not been a response at this time.
Q&A on new Nintendo tournament guidelines for November 2023 and beyond
There is also a Q&A section where Nintendo went into further detail regarding some of the community tournament guidelines.
Q. How can we ensure that the total admission fees collected at in-person community tournaments do not exceed the total tournament setup costs?
A. When organising in-person community tournaments that collect admission fees, please set the maximum number of spectators in advance, and ensure that the actual number of spectators does not exceed the maximum. Please ensure that the amount obtained by multiplying the maximum number of spectators by the per capita admission fee will not exceed the cost of setting up the tournament. In the unlikely event that the total amount of admission fees collected exceeds the cost of the tournament setup, the excess amount must be returned to the Spectators who paid the fee.
Q. Can school clubs or neighborhood associations host community tournaments under these guidelines?
A. School clubs are organisations, however, they may conduct competitions without requiring a licence, as long as the following conditions are met and they adhere to the stipulations within these guidelines.
Participation in the tournament will not be open to the public, and the participants will be limited to the members of the school club.
The game tournament can be a standalone head-to-head competition between up to two schools, but will not involve three or more schools, and the tournament will not serve for ranking or qualification for a later tournament or championship.
Any tournaments that meet the above conditions could use the names of the two participating schools or school clubs in their name, as long as the schools agree. If the above does not apply to your tournament, or if you are an organisation other than a school, such as a neighborhood association, please apply as specified in Q14. If an individual wishes to use the name of a school or company in the name of a community tournament organised by the individual, please see Q5. Schools can also register with and participate in tournaments hosted by licensed partners of Nintendo.
Q. How can I host a game tournament using Nintendo games as part of a charity activity at my high school?
A. For students to host a game tournament using Nintendo games as part of their school’s charity activities, the school to which the student belongs must make a separate application to Nintendo to obtain permission to conduct the game tournament. Any game tournament that Nintendo has separately licensed will be given a licence number by Nintendo. Information and relevant forms to apply will be available in the near future. Please check back soon.
Q. Under what circumstances would Nintendo request the cancellation of a community tournament?
A. Nintendo may request the cancellation of any community tournaments in its sole discretion, including any tournaments that violate or may violate these guidelines, or that Nintendo deems inappropriate. In addition, Nintendo may request the cancellation of a community tournament on behalf of a right holder of intellectual property rights other than Nintendo upon receiving a request from such a right holder.
Alleged leak shows other tournaments may have brought forward the new guidelines
An anonymous TO going by the name of Skibidisammy has leaked a pitch document for the Panda Cup 2023 circuit.
The pitch reveals that up to $620,000 was available for tournament organisers, with each event receiving between $50,000 and $120,000. Skibidisammy goes on to say the recently posted guidelines were always going to be implemented but revealed that Super Smash Con 2023, the biggest Smash event of the year, received a Cease and Desist letter from Nintendo that was ultimately ignored.
The news comes almost a year after the fighting game community (FGC) was up in arms over the sudden cancellation of the Smash World Tour following Nintendo’s decision to halt the circuit for 2023. This was a complex situation involving both Nintendo and Panda Global, whom Nintendo partnered with in 2021 as the organiser of the first licensed circuits in Smash Bros Ultimate and Super Smash Bros Melee in North America.
The anonymous TO said: “It’s my understanding that the guidelines being posted today from Nintendo Japan, Nintendo UK, and soon Nintendo America were always going to be implemented. Behind-the-scenes events like Super Smash Con ignoring a Nintendo C&D for their 2023 event may have led to escalation.”
Response to Nintendo tournament guidelines from the Smash Bros community
Many organisers have said that they will continue to run as normal at the moment, with some giving insight as to what is currently happening behind the scenes – and how the guidelines could affect events.
More comments from X by the community are posted below:
Wade White is a Tournament Organiser for Super Smash Brothers Ultimate in London and Essex.
Writing for Esports News UK about Smash and other FGC events