Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is one of the most hotly anticipated holiday season releases this year, and a game that Nintendo has been hyping up for months ahead of its launch - however, it has also become the Nintendo Switch's biggest pirated game ever, getting dumped online a full two weeks before it was supposed to hit stores.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the culmination of a franchise that has been synonymous with Nintendo consoles since the Nintendo 64. A new iteration of the game has appeared on ever major Nintendo console since its debut on the N64, and Super Smash Bros. has grown into housing one of the most passionate fighting game communities anywhere. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will see every fighter who has ever appeared in a series title rejoin the roster alongside brand new characters as well, and will be a major player in how the Nintendo Switch does during the holiday sales rush.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate leaking is a huge deal for Nintendo, a company that has had its fair share of piracy concerns before. According to a report from Motherboard, the pirated version of the game first appeared on a Discord server for WarezNX, a popular Switch piracy community that uses the communication platform to coordinate leaks. JJB, the group's administrator, states that it first surfaced on the Discord and immediately led to him directing other staff to ban all lower level users from the server in an effort to protect the game from leaking too early: "Point of doing it was I did not agree with Smash leaking as early as it did. So I decided to remove the easiest source being the server."
Unfortunately, JJB wasn't able to prevent the leak from occurring in the first place, so the game began to be distributed by various piracy groups over the past few days. Some of them have been better versions than others, however, with one piracy group's version outright bricking Switch consoles for those who try to play it. Pirating Nintendo Switch games is a notoriously difficult practice that is also finicky in its execution, so, as always, there are some serious risks involved for those attempting to pirate Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Parties interested in Switch piracy typically obtain new games that are leaked by YouTubers or journalists who are reviewing the game, or someone who already is in physical possession of a cartridge dumps the files online. Both methods are usually only available a few days before a game's release, however, which makes the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate leak even more bizarre by comparison, especially since it is such a high profile game.
So while we now know how Super Smash Bros. Ultimate leaked as early as it did, we still don't know exactly why it was possible. There don't appear to be many leads after the fact, either - WarezNX appears, by most accounts, to be one of the first places the leak popped up, but if the group knows where it emerged from, they haven't said anything. There's definitely more at play here than just a regular leak given how early it occurred and how it affected a property Nintendo was likely protecting even more than usual, but for now, inquiring minds will simply have to settle for knowing how Super Smash Bros. Ultimate leaked and not how it was put in that position in the first place.