Though Nintendo has plenty of fans around the world, they don’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to the support of the competitive scenes surrounding their games. This is especially true with the Super Smash Bros. community.
Earlier today, Nintendo Japan’s Twitter and the official Nintendo UK website posted new Community Tournament Guidelines. However, it should be noted that there’s yet to be a post about this on the Nintendo of America Twitter, Nintendo Versus Twitter account, or Nintendo US website, sparking confusion about the whole thing.
“Thank you for sharing your passion for Nintendo’s games, characters and worlds,” begins the guidelines’ statement on the Nintendo UK website. “Nintendo cares about the community and would like to support individuals who want to celebrate that passion by creating memorable co-operative and competitive play experiences. At the same time, we want to ensure that fans who are doing so are engaging with our games, characters, and worlds in a way that positively supports other fans, players and Nintendo.”
“In that spirit, we have created guidelines for individual [organizers] to follow when hosting not-for-profit, small scale community tournaments (Community Tournaments) involving games for which Nintendo owns the copyright (Nintendo games),” continued the statement. “Please [familiarize] yourself with the guidelines below before planning a Community Tournament.”
Later in the guidelines, it’s stated that the types of tournaments not permitted by these guidelines are the following: for-profit tournaments, online tournaments that collect admission fees from spectators, tournaments that requires a subscription or membership to participate, tournaments in which participants are paid a “performance fee,” tournaments that receive goods or money from third-party sponsors, and tournaments that involve the sale of food, beverages, and merchandise.
Additionally, for a tournament to fall into these guidelines, offline events can’t have more than 200 entrants while online events can’t have more than 300. However, Nintendo does note that a tournament organizer may divide their event into separate blocks that can be held each day, so long as the number of players participating during a day or block does not exceed the restriction.
The guidelines also dictate that tournament organizers “may not generate commercial revenue except as permitted by these guidelines” which include “[organizers] collecting fees must publicly disclose all accounting related to the costs of hosting the event promptly, including entry fees, admission fees and prizes distributed by posting them on a website and/or on social media accessible to everyone” and “only with the prior consent from participants can [organizers monetize] posting of videos, still images, etc., related to Community Tournaments on personal accounts.”
Nintendo also notes that spectators at an offline event cannot be charged more than £14 / €15 (about $15.88 to $17.00) per person, and organizers cannot earn more than equivalent of £9,000 / €10,000 over the course of a 12-month period through monetization of videos and images related to the event.
Nintendo also preemptively answered questions that they were expecting as a response to these new guidelines. Here are a few of the more peculiar questions and answers:
A1. A Community Tournament permitted by these guidelines must meet the following requirements:
• Nintendo’s copyrighted games will be used in the tournament
• It is a tournament organised by individuals
• It is a tournament in which players, as individuals, or non-profit teams, are Participants
• It is a not-for-profit tournament (for-profit tournaments include not only those where organisers or persons running the tournament seek to receive direct benefits, such as money, or indirect benefits through advertising and promotion but also those that benefit third parties.)
• It is a small-scale gaming tournament with 300 or fewer Participants for online tournaments, or 200 or fewer Participants for in-person tournaments
A3. Tournaments that are not permitted by these guidelines include, but are not limited to the below:
• For-profit tournaments (these are not permitted under these guidelines, even if they only charge entry fees and admission fees below the amounts specified in these guidelines)
• Online tournaments that collect admission fees from Spectators
• Tournaments that make it a condition of entry in tournaments or viewing tournaments to subscribe to or follow a YouTube channel, an X account, or any other streaming channel or social media account, or subscribe to a paid membership
• Tournaments in which Participants are paid a performance fee or other expenses
• Tournaments that receive goods or money from third parties, such as sponsors
• Tournaments involving the sale of food, beverages, or merchandise
Please note that Nintendo does not currently grant permission for individuals to [organize] commercial tournaments. We ask for your understanding.
A4. When organizing 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.
A7. For posting or livestreaming Community Tournament-related content, such as videos and still images that use footage and screenshots captured from Nintendo games, to personal accounts on appropriate video- and image-sharing sites, or [monetizing] your posts, please obtain permission from the Participants beforehand and refer to the Nintendo Game Content Guidelines for Online Video & Image Sharing Platforms in addition to these guidelines. If you decide to [monetize] your Community Tournament-related posts, such as videos and still images, based on the Nintendo Game Content Guidelines for Online Video & Image Sharing Platforms, please be aware of the limits on the total amount of revenue that you can earn from your posts, as stated in these guidelines.
Please note that Community Tournaments and Nintendo games cannot be used to advertise or promote any entity, products or services, or that promote any campaigns or initiatives based on personal or [organized] opinions, ideologies or beliefs. Therefore, with the exception of advertisements added by content distribution platforms such as YouTube, please ensure that ads (in particular, third-party advertisements and logos) do not appear in the videos, still images, etc., that you share.
A11. Currently, we do not grant permission for individuals to [organize] tournaments with more than 300 Participants in an online tournament or more than 200 Participants in an in-person tournament. We appreciate your understanding. If you would like to [organize] a tournament that exceeds the cap, please consider dividing it into blocks, as described in Q12. If you want to host a tournament using Nintendo games as an [organization], such as a club, please apply apply for a [license] as described in Q14.
Q12. The total number of Participants across all blocks is expected to be over 300 in my online tournament (or over 200 in my in-person tournament). If a tournament is divided into blocks, such as Block A, Block B, and so on, and the total number of Participants in the blocks held on the same day does not exceed 300 people for online tournaments or 200 people for in-person tournaments, can I still host a Community Tournament based on these guidelines?
A12. These guidelines permit a community tournament divided into blocks, hosted by a single [organizer], as long as the total number of Participants per day does not exceed 300 for online tournaments and 200 for in-person tournaments. For example, in a tournament [organized] by a single [organizer], if there are 100 Participants in Block A, 150 Participants in Block B, and 80 Participants in Block C, hosting Block A and Block B tournaments on the same day is not allowed under these guidelines since the total number of Participants in a day will exceed 200.
However, these guidelines permit hosting Block A and B tournaments on different days since the total number of Participants in a day will not exceed 200 on either day. Hosting Block A and Block C tournaments on the same day is permitted under these guidelines because the total number of Participants in a day would not exceed 200.
A13. School clubs are [organizations]; however, they may conduct competitions without requiring a [license], 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 [organization] 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 [organized] by the individual, please see Q5. Schools can also register with and participate in tournaments hosted by licensed partners of Nintendo.
Q19. I’m planning to organise a game tournament, and I made an announcement about it before these guidelines were released. However, Q14 of the guidelines states that I would need to make a separate application and obtain permission to conduct my tournament. The tournament is scheduled to take place after the effective date of these guidelines. Do I need to make a separate application to obtain permission?
A19. For information on whether or not a separate application is required, please see below:
• Tournaments announced before the date of release of these guidelines that will be conducted before the end of 2023: you are not required to make a separate application to obtain permission.
• Tournaments announced before the date of release of these guidelines that will be conducted in 2024 or later: you are required to make a separate application to obtain permission.
• Tournaments announced after the date of release of these guidelines that will be conducted after the effective date: you are required to make a separate application to obtain permission.
As of right now, we don’t know if these rules will have any impact on Super Smash Bros. events and other Nintendo-related games in North America. We’ll just have to wait for clarification from Nintendo to find out.