Why is Nintendo avoiding esports?

If you've played one video game, but only one, chances are it's on a Nintendo console. The Japanese brand has always maintained a family image and offers numerous multiplayer experiences, from racing POKEMON on the Gameboy in the match Mario Kart.

In some games, simply playing with friends is not enough. So much so that many fans wanted to create their own contests. In the fighting game Super Smash Bros Ultimate, for example, some head-to-head tournaments draw up to 4,000 players. The equation of multiplayer + volunteer fans + guaranteed audience + competition prestige seems obvious. Only here: with Nintendo, it's “I love you, not me either.” »

Control more than collaboration

The company actually has a very distant relationship with the world of e-sports. The company organizes few official tournaments, despite a few events such as an international and multidisciplinary championship POKEMON, the first edition of which took place in Yokohama last year. This franchise, one of the most famous in the world, managed to gather 1,600 participants in person. However, not all fans are in the same boat.

Among those who feel they suffer the most from this situation are his players Breaking. “In 2019, Nintendo tried to organize an official three-on-three tournament,” says Gluttony, a pro player of Team Solary. They never did again, probably because of the incarceration. In 2023, overall, they ignore the pro community, there is no communication. “Worse, Nintendo is in 'a policy of control more than cooperation,'” reckons Paul Arrivé, a journalist who specializes in esports for The team.

Already in 2013, Nintendo opposed its presence Breaking at EVO, the biggest international fighting tournament, where we compete street fighter THE Tekken. Same story in 2022: “The community wanted to organize a 'World Tour,'” explains Gluttony. Two entities wanted to take over the organization, which created conflicts and Nintendo ended up banning both tournaments. »

The incident even prompted the Japanese company to create “instructions,” a guide for organizing tournaments. Larger structures, particularly those wishing to make a profit from the event (even charity), must obtain permission from Nintendo, with clauses negotiated on a case-by-case basis. Smaller tournaments, called community tournaments, can benefit from an implied license as long as they meet certain conditions. Only these are considered very restrictive by the community: price cap for players and spectators, no monetary rewards, no food and drink sales.

“Don't take things too seriously”

This approach is partly due to some cultural differences. “Profiting from these types of events is something that Nintendo completely rejects,” explains journalist Paul Arrive. In Japan, tournaments are without prizes. » Indeed, in this country, despite a significant arcade culture, professional video game competition is struggling to emerge.

In addition, Nintendo is improving its image as a publisher of family games. Competition and professionalism based on pure talent is at odds with their gaming philosophy. Those who played Mario Kart it will tell you: you can play perfectly and miss a few meters from the finish because your opponents had better objects than you in roulette. “They want to make sure that players have fun and that everyone can win,” Gluttony opines. The message is “Don't take things too seriously” but, for a competitive player, it's frustrating. »

However, Nintendo continues to occasionally flirt with players interested in competitive gaming. Pokémon Unitereleased in 2021, it is inspired by games like Legion of Legends. In 2017, during the first trailer for their latest console, the Switch, the brand introduced two teams Splatoon they compete in front of an audience, wearing a sports jersey. “Nintendo sees competition as something that creates loyalty and that will get people to buy their games,” says Paul Arrivé. For them, eSports is a growth area of ​​marketing. »

Contacted on the matter, Nintendo France did not respond to our requests.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *