Will Nintendo embrace the esports scene further?

In the grand scheme of gaming, esports are still relatively new. Fighting game tournaments have been around for many years, but in the last decade, many other genres of games have generated esports scenes of their own. Nintendo has always been aware of the esports around its games and has been occasionally involved in the past. However, Nintendo has opted for a mostly hands-off approach to this subculture, much to the dismay of esports players and fans that wanted more support from the company.

Still, Nintendo has been slowly embracing esports for its big games. This slow but steady change in its support could indicate that Nintendo is becoming more willing to embrace the competitive culture, but will it go all the way?

A history of competition

Despite what many disappointed esports fans would have you believe, Nintendo does have a history with the competitive scene for its games. The Nintendo World Championships was a series of tournaments focused on Nintendo games across America that started in 1990. So in some respects, Nintendo was actually among the first on the scene to support esports. However, this was not an annualized tournament. Aside from the Nintendo World Championships of 1990 and Nintendo PowerFest ’94, there was a huge gap of time where Nintendo stepped back from esports.

Nintendo had an on-and-off relationship with esports thanks to the Super Smash Bros. series during this time. It mostly stayed uninvolved, but in 2010, among other times, Nintendo prohibited Major League Gaming from livestreaming matches of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, invoking tremendous disappointment.

nintendo esports Tetris Nintendo World Championships 2017

nintendo esports Tetris Nintendo World Championships 2017

It wasn’t until 2014 that Nintendo directly engaged with esports again, with the Super Smash Bros. Invitational, an exhibition tournament for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. This led to the company becoming more interested in esports again. Splatoon subsequently received an esports tournament in Japan in 2015 with over $1,000,000 in prize money.

Nintendo resurrected the Nintendo World Championships as part of the tournament’s 25th anniversary in 2015, involving a variety of games ranging from Splatoon to Super Metroid. A 2017 Nintendo World Championships followed, and it demonstrated that Nintendo wanted more of its games to be involved with esports, including Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon 2. Hell, Splatoon 2 was even presented as an esport in the initial Nintendo Switch reveal trailer.

More recently, Super Mario Maker 2 received a pre-launch invitational tournament at E3 last year, and Nintendo even made a continent-spanning European circuit tournament for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. At this point in time, Nintendo is supporting esports more than it ever has before, but can this trend continue?

Will Nintendo esports support last into the future?

Nintendo clearly hasn’t committed all the way to esports yet. For example, Nintendo-supported tournaments are infrequent and…

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