Nintendo continues to turn a blind eye to the online problems surrounding its games.
I’ve been a Nintendo fan for a long time. They’ve always been my preferred system maker (except for a very dark and edgy period of my life where I was constantly in my basement, hair over my eyes, blasting Stabbing Westward and playing Shining Force CD on the Sega CD… but we don’t talk about that).
I loved the NES, the SNES, the GameCube. I even loved the Wii U. I’m not kidding. I even have a working Virtual Boy as well as my old “Ask Me About Virtual Boy” vest from Toys“R”Us. It’s safe to say that I have a bit of a bias towards my long time love. And that has allowed me to ignore a problem for a bit too long.
See, a running joke within the gaming world is how Nintendo takes to the internet. While Nintendo has set the world forward in some areas, like their Nintendo Directs, the company is behind on a lot of their other internet-related practices.
From their chat set up to their friend list to their multiplayer features, all of them are incredibly behind. These are things that even the Dreamcast’s first attempts at online play knock out of the water. I felt more confident that I could befriend someone in Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast’s clunky set up then I feel like I ever could if I appreciated someone’s teamwork in Splatoon 2.
But, surprisingly, that’s not the issue that I’m talking about. This issue is far more important than online play. It’s involving real people and Nintendo turning a blind eye to issues and problems that people online are facing. While their ability to play Switzerland in the past has been to their benefit, there’s no longer an excuse to be blind to current problems.
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The biggest example of this involves one of Nintendo’s biggest titles right now, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Nintendo has famously disconnected itself from the tournaments involving its title. It is aware of them but never gets involved, except for one time where they donated a fancy controller as a prize once.
But as of recent, sexual assault charges have headlined news surrounding Super Smash Bro. Ultimate tournaments. And it’s a lot. As of the time of writing this, there are 50-plus sexual misconduct allegations facing many famous names in the Smash community — including former champions, contest runners, and commentators.
Now, while the Smash tournaments themselves are handling this and removing these people from their communities, Nintendo needs to at least need to show they’re aware. Here’s how it can be dangerous.
On July 9, Nintendo posted something about Smash Bros. in the Switch News Channel. Considering the timing I thought, hoped, it would have something to do with the recent situations, even if it’s just something like Nintendo saying the obvious and letting us know that they’re not okay with the behavior.
If you guessed that wasn’t what Nintendo did, put five points on your Junior Giant Boy Detective scorecard because you guessed correct. But here’s where Nintendo’s naivety comes into play. See, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has a word in its title. “Smash.” And while Smash, in this case, means one obvious thing, it also has a slang definition meaning, well, ask your parents.
So when Nintendo put forth this message promoting Smash Bros. during a time when sexual misconduct allegations in their community are going on, saying the entire point of the game is to smash other people hit me as kind of gross.
Now, I know Nintendo purposely doesn’t pay attention or get involved in this sort of thing but if they did, even a little, someone in PR would have pointed out how insensitive this could have come off. I mean, it did for me and my skin is about as thick as a rhino’s.
I know Nintendo has eyes and ears everywhere. Their lawyers can find a fan game based on Mario on a Texas Instrument Calculator somewhere in Maine in minutes. They can issue a warning to a child on YouTube with two views who had an unlicensed Nintendo song playing somewhere in the background. They have to be aware of this and for them, in 2020, to pretend they don’t know about what’s happening in the giant community surrounding one of their biggest games is absolutely unbelievable.