European Melee version trials status update

Over the past months the European Melee scene has been gradually transitioning from PAL to NTSC through trials and surveys to poll the interest and assess the potential impact on the player base. Last wednesday evening the representative figureheads of the Melee scene for each European country within the European Smash back-room reviewed the current status of NTSC trials and assessed the current preference of dominant version within the continent. Time for an update on the situation.

With the exception of Finland the figureheads have found that every European country currently holds the NTSC version as dominant version. Some have found a verified substantial preference towards NTSC and a significantly smaller minority in favour of sticking with PAL. This information was derived from the trial periods held in various European countries over the past months and the surveys that complimented those trials. Some even held surveys prior to the trial period and found prefence had changed after.

UK Poll results
Additional results from the UK Survey

A few countries have soft switched, arguing that following the European trend was of higher importance for the survival of their scene over being the outlier within a landscape dominated by NTSC events. The potential to reach the desired attendance numbers at future events played a big factor in reaching a decision.

It’s of note that a few countries have not held a voting process or trial period, opting to switch directly instead or switch despite finding a small preference for the PAL version.

However the figureheads have found that the countries that switched have not experienced a substantial backlash from those that preferred PAL. It is of note that in some countries various players have dropped the game as a result of the switch, which is considered regrettable and an unfortunate loss for the scene. However this group is substantially smaller than the players base still attending events.

Finland is the clear outlier which held a survey and found that 65% preferred PAL, 17% NTSC and 18% was indecisive. While the scale of their scene is hard to know for sure the nordic country holds a PAL circuit that concludes in November. A follow up survey is anticipated to be held after December. It’s of note that their upcoming international in December, Bob-omb Battlefield, will be held with the NTSC version to attract international attendance.

Considering Finland is still holding a clear assessed preference for the PAL version Europe can’t be considered to have switched to NTSC as a whole. However the figureheads felt comfortable enough to conclude that the current trend seems irreversible and NTSC is anticipated to be held as dominant version within the European competitive landscape moving forward.

It’s important to note that PAL has not been outcast by the European community nor are tournament organizers(TOs) prohibited from hosting it. TOs are free to run events with their version of choice and if interest is high a community could even rise that continues to support the PAL version in the future. However TOs are advised to take into account that a substantial majority of the community has expressed a preference towards NTSC. Hosting a different version could substantially affect your ability to meet the required attendance numbers that make your event sustainable.

UK Poll results
Resulting UK version preference, showing a substantial majority of the voters in favor of a swap

Each European international and major currently scheduled is anticipated to be held with the NTSC version, to be specific version 1.02.

As far as the figureheads are concerned this was the final review of this situation for the time being. Should Finland’s new survey results surface those results may be reviewed but those results are unlikely to cause a shift in preference over the European landscape as a whole. Should Finland potentially opt to switch in the future this would be more of a formal moment where the European scene could be confirmed to have switched as a whole. The bulk of the transition however already seem to have taken place over the past months.

The figureheads thank the volunteers that have contributed to guiding this transition into the proper path and the many volunteers of the community that have contributed to facilitating the trials, the logistics of running NTSC, running the survey process, compiling the results and last but not least the rest of the community for sharing their preference within the surveys.
A special thanks goes out to the creators of the memory card hack, in particular UnclePunch, taukhan, punkline and Nuckels of whom the latter took care of beta testing and kicked off the first trial in a European country. Without their efforts the logistic hurdle would have been far to high to even consider competitive play of the NTSC version in Europe.

While it can’t yet be concluded that the formal switch has taken place, this can still be seen as quite a memorable moment considering the European Melee scene has existed since the launch of the game on the 24th of May in 2002 and now 17 years years later has nearly fully transitioned from the version released by its developer across the continent to the version that was released overseas in November of 2001 within Japanese stores. 

While this would have been a good moment to adapt a unified European ruleset as well, the countries have opted to stick with their own rulesets instead for the time being. Should demand for this increase this is likely to be reviewed further.

Images of UK poll results can be found here. Featured image was composed by Joeri using various source images mixed with SmashEurope promo images.

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