Earlier this week, Nintendo updated its community tournament guidelines for smaller events run by fans. As pointed out by disabled members of the gaming community, these guidelines in their current state exclude most of them.
Nintendo’s new community tournament guidelines state that the use of certain items, such as game consoles and accessories that Nintendo doesn’t license, is not permitted at these smaller tournaments. This restriction means that third-party hardware designed for disabled gamers, and even 3D-printed custom ones, can’t be used, excluding the disabled gamers who can’t engage with Nintendo’s games without them.
Disabled Gamers Hurt by Nintendo’s Aggressive License Protection in New Community Tournament Guidelines
Soon after Nintendo’s new community tournament guidelines were released, disabled gamers began posting about how disappointed and outraged they were by them. On Twitter, Arevya went into great detail about why these guidelines made them so cross.
The most impactful part of Arevya’s thread dives into the heart of the matter. “But the reason why it is is because MANY disabled gamers (like myself) use third-party accessories to be able to game. This can be anything from controllers you can use with your feet, tools to make the game work with a straw you can blow in to move your character, all the way to 3D printed specialized equipment that lets you use a regular Joy-con or Pro controller. All of this is the equipment we NEED to be able to game, to be able to join like everyone else, to be able to access games, consoles, and a hobby we LOVE!”
With Microsoft and Sony both working on creating more comprehensive first-party controllers with greater accessibility functionality, it seems counter-intuitive of Nintendo to put such a guideline into force.
Some fans echo this in replies to Arevya. “At the very least, that clause should end “…not licensed by Nintendo, except where their use is required for the user to participate at a fair and competitive level”. Aggressively protecting IP is very on-brand, but excluding people from taking part is a huge loss for so many.”
Other players are confused about why Nintendo would create such a harsh rule. “You’d think with Nintendo’s history of controller designs they’d be the most open to accessibility.” Arevya points out that “The protection is, how it is written now, it does ban any and all accessories. Which is why we need a clarification from Nintendo.”
Ultimately, the community tournament guidelines that exist now exclude any accessory Nintendo hasn’t manufactured or licensed. However, with further clarification from company representatives, these guidelines could be altered in the near future, or tournaments might be able to get permission from Nintendo for disabled tournament players to use the accessories they need.