Over the last few months, the competitive Super Smash Bros. community’s excitement over the impending release of Smash Ultimate has reached a fever pitch. With the announcement of the inclusion of beloved characters such as Castlevania’s Simon Belmont—and unexpected surprises, such as the inclusion of the Mario series’ Piranha Plant as a playable character—many Smash players can hardly wait until the game’s release. But with less than two weeks left before Smash Ultimate comes out, some Smash community members have decided to get a jump on the competition by pirating the game.
Pirating Smash Ultimate isn’t as simple as pre-downloading it and artifically moving the date and time of your Nintendo Switch forward. Though I won’t provide an in-depth guide, getting your Swtich to run Smash Ultimate ahead of its release requires quite a bit of paper clip-bending skill, a 32 gigabyte SD card, and an expendable console: if you pirate Smash Ultimate, it’s likely that Nintendo will brick your Switch once they find out.
Furthermore, the early accessibility of Smash Ultimate has spurred controversy within the competitive scene. Some Smash players believe that pirating the title is fair game for players who can’t afford its $60 price tag (or for wealthier players who have consoles to burn). Other community leaders, such as commentator Phil “EE” Visu, have spoken out against pirates, claiming that the theft of Smash Ultimate negatively affects game developers and shows a lack of gratitude towards the Smash developers.
Whether or not pirating is the morally correct thing to do, Smash Ultimate is out there, and the floodgates have been opened for pirates to post screenshots and video recordings of the game’s new content online. If you’re afraid of spoilers, tread lightly; if you’re looking to get an early look at Smash Ultimate, some quick Googling will probably garner interesting results. But until the title’s official release on December 7th, the sharing of Smash Ultimate information might come at a significant risk to your Switch—and your reputation among some members of the Smash community.