Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker, which allows you to design your own levels for the beloved video game hero, is really a game that could only be properly realized now, on the 30th anniversary of the franchise. Three decades as the platforming gold standard means there are multiple generations of gamers intimately familiar with the series’ building blocks, ensuring an ample supply of would-be creators and players who can really get the most from the system’s ins and outs.
Just as important is the modern digital infrastructure for sharing user-designed stages. Super Mario Maker would have been a flop on hardware that requires physical media, but in our modern Internet age once a completed course has been uploaded to Nintendo’s servers, anyone in the world can play it.
Well, anyone in the world can play it if it’s good. If it’s not, then Nintendo will just go ahead and delete your creation.
Super Mario Maker has just hit retailers in Japan. After weeks of salivating over preview videos of courses made by media outlets with advance copies, regular gamers rushed home from the store, fired up the game, and have already started uploading levels for others to play.
But at the final step of the upload process, a message appears on-screen, announcing:
Notice regarding course uploads
● Please be aware that after a fixed period of time, courses with low popularity will be automatically deleted from the server.
● Nintendo reserves the right to use uploaded courses and related data, either as-is or with alterations, for either commercial or noncommercial purposes without compensation to the uploader.
In other words, just like you’re sharing your levels with other players, Nintendo is merely sharing its server space and game design architecture with you, with no obligation to host your levels continually or let you retain absolute ownership over them. On the plus side, the popularity requirement should add some incentive for amateur designers to make sure their levels are enjoyably challenging, and not just fun-squashing frustrating in difficulty.
Japanese online commenters had the following to say about Nintendo’s terms:
“Well, yeah, of course. If they don’t delete courses, they’ll end up with an endlessly increasing glut of them.”
“Fine by me. Saves me the trouble of sorting out the boring ones.”
“Isn’t the second warning worse? Using [user-created levels] to make money is just greedy.”
“They wouldn’t be doing this if [former president of Nintendo] Iwata was still alive.”
“So does this mean Super Mario Maker is a kusoge?”
Of course, there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping users from reuploading a course that’s been deleted and enjoying a second grace period, unless Nintendo’s servers are sophisticated enough to detect and block repeated submissions of the same design. Still, if you’ve put the finishing touches on a Super Mario Maker level that you’re particularly proud of, but you’re not sure the rest of the world will appreciate your genius, hanging on to a backup copy of it is probably a good idea.