Gaming YouTuber Ludwig Ahgren, widely known as Ludwig, has claimed that Nintendo came for his throat with a “baby cease-and-desist” letter a few months ago. The move was prompted by modifications he wanted to make to the company’s supremely popular crossover fighter Super Smash Bros. Melee for the sake of a tournament he was running.
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In an October 25 video titled “I Got Sued by Nintendo,” Ludwig revealed that a few months prior, Nintendo had sent him a Notice of Infringement of Intellectual Property, a formal document stating the person in question is using an IP without proper authorization by the copyright owner. At the time, Ludwig was considering using a version of Super Smash Bros. Melee’s Pokémon Stadium stage in his tournament—the Ludwig Ahgren Championship Series—that had been modified so that it didn’t randomly transform.
“I’d show you the paperwork and verify it, but [Nintendo] did post my address in, like, ink in the background of every single piece of paper in this notice of infringement, so I can’t actually show you,” Ludwig said. “But to my very, very small understanding—I am a YouTuber after all—it’s basically like a baby cease-and-desist. Because rather than saying, ‘Hey, you must stop and never do this,’ [Nintendo’s] like, ‘Hey, you must stop and then follow our rules. You cannot use your rules.’”
On October 24, Nintendo announced a slew of new restrictions that fundamentally change Super Smash Bros. tournaments. Now, any event connected to the game must have a maximum of 200 participants, a $5,000 prize pool cap, no sponsors, and make use of an unmodified version of the game. Commercial tourneys by larger organizers, such as Video Game Boot Camp (VGBC), must get a special license from Nintendo to happen. This has led the community, from casuals to pros, to mourn what could be the end of the game’s esports scene.
It makes sense that folks feel some type of way about this. Nintendo doesn’t have the greatest track record of supporting the grassroots efforts of the Super Smash Bros. community. Late last year, in fact, the company was caught in a tense dispute with pro players and tournament organizers over the canceled Smash World Tour event. Things got so heated that folks began boycotting events with partnered Nintendo orgs like professional esports outfit Panda Global. It’s hard to say what the future of Smash Bros. events will look like.
Kotaku reached out to Ludwig and Nintendo for comment.
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One thing is for sure, though: Nintendo can’t kill people’s love of the game. As pro player Joseph “Mang0″ Marquez says in a quote Ludwig plays at the end of his video: “I’ll play Melee in my fucking mind. As long as Melee lives, I will play [it], and if you take it all, we’ll fucking play [it] in a garage.”