The fighting game community was taken by surprise yesterday afternoon when the return of the Evo tournament series was announced. Not only had the silence on what lies ahead for the longtime fighting game competition been broken, but we also learned that Sony Interactive Entertainment and RTS had jointly acquired the organization.
Naturally, this has stirred up a lot of questions from fighting gamers, especially the one that asks about the future of games that aren't on Sony consoles — such as Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Following the announcement, Nintendo released a statement on the matter, and from the sound of it Smash at Evo isn't looking like a lock just yet.
Speaking to IGN, a Nintendo spokesman said that the company has enjoyed its time at past Evo events and wishes the tournament organizers the best of luck. "We will continue to assess Evo," said Nintendo, as they look ahead toward opportunities for offline and online Super Smash Bros. tournaments.
The Super Smash Bros. series has seen official representation at 10 different Evo events. Beginning with Super Smash Bros. Melee in 2007, we would go on to see Melee, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. Wii U, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate all get time in the limelight at each Evo event with only a handful of exceptions.
Between 2010 to 2012, Super Smash Bros. would be absent at the event following Evo 2009 where a Brawl tournament took place, but wasn't a part of the official tournament line up. Smash returned strong in 2013, however, where Melee was added to the docket by way of a donation drive and campaign to select the event's final title.
What's interesting is that despite Sony acquiring Evo, the event's organizers are still open and capable of working with games that don't appear on PlayStation consoles. Mark "MarkMan" Julio, Evo's Head of Business Development, reassured fans on Twitter yesterday that console exclusivity shouldn't be as much of an issue as fans initially feared.
"Also very important to note. @EVO is still open to all platforms," Julio wrote. "The teams at PlayStation and RTS are enabling us to continue working with our community to support fighting games."
Evo is already showing that this statement is true with the official line up for the upcoming Evo Online featuring several games that allow players to play on both PC and PlayStation consoles. Though the tournament organization certainly appears open to having Super Smash Bros. at a future event, Nintendo's initial statement feels less certain that that will come to fruition.
As it stand right now, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate likely isn't in consideration for Evo anyway due to its overall rough online experience. Once we being a return to offline tournaments, though, the question about Smash's return to Evo will become much more pertinent.
The next Evo Online is scheduled to take place over two weekends: August 6 - 8 and 13 - 15, and entry will be free. Street Fighter 5 Season 5, Tekken 7, Mortal Kombat 11, and Guilty Gear Strive will all be featured on the official line up and will have open format tournaments.