It's only been a day or two since the Project M dev team (PMDT) announced that they were completely shutting down the modding effort, and the Smash community is still trying to recover from the shock. While many fans have expressed gratitude, disappointment, or even a desire to continue the project themselves, the primary response has been one of confusion: why did Project M shut down so abruptly?
Fortunately, we now have an explanation from fellow Brawl modder Mewtwo2000, who spoke out about it on his Facebook page – and from what he understands, the decision was the result of neither a lack of motivation nor a Cease and Desist order.
"[If] you're clever enough, you'll understand that the PMDT has not stopped activity suddenly without thinking about it, because they were lacking motivation, because they thought the game was ready or because of moving into another different project, a Wii U version, or whatever. It has been said that Nintendo is after this. That isn't true either.
"To make things clear, I'll tell you that, as far as I know, no company has contacted with the PMDT to ask them to stop their activity. Of course nobody has bought Project M either. And of course this takedown not something that has happened in one day.
"The truth is that it has not been a responsive action, but a preventive one. Certain event (which, again, doesn't involve a company contacting the PMDT) made the members fear a legal problem if the project kept on. At some point, it was determined that, even just the fact of releasing the announced patch, PM 3.61, could involve negative actions that nobody in the team could afford at all. A lawyer was contacted and it was confirmed that the possible threats the PMDT could face in an hypothetical legal sue were really terrible. As the PMDT was formed mostly by teenagers, people with little money or even in red numbers, and with a long life to run, it was determined that it was better for their safety to stop immediately just in case." — Mewtwo2000
So it looks like the dev team decided to cancel the project out of fear of legal action, a fear which was supported by a lawyer. And not just legal action from Nintendo – after all, Project M has added characters and stages based off several third-party franchises, so any of those third-parties could have, potentially, taken action against the group.
As for why the announcement was so abrupt, Mewtwo2000 clarified in a response to one of his post's comments:
"The change is that the PMDT actually realized the real danger. They never thought further than a C&D, a letter or message that would tell them to stop with no further actions if agreed. But the possibility of a legal action without a previous warning has come on the table in the last days, and talking with an actual lawyer about it has changed all what the PMDT feared. Let's say it's changed from the possibility of being told to stop at anytime to the fear of having to pay millions of dollars if dared to do even a single further release." — Mewtwo2000
And for those of you pushing for someone else to take up the Project M torch, or even considering doing so yourself, you might want to take a moment to reconsider – it may do more harm than good. And not just to you, but to the members of the PMDT themselves.
"I've read about people who want to make a new PMDT already. Those would be fans who want the project to grow bigger no matter what, but they're not taking into consideration how dangerous for the former PMDT members it would be. So, for the safety of those involved, in case some of them read this, or if you can let them know, please tell them not to do it at all. [...] At least, don't try to continue an alternative 'official' line. Feel free to make as many custom versions as you want, but don't make a Project M 3.7 or whatever. Just don't try to keep stepping forward. Who were doing so have stopped for a reason." — Mewtwo2000
You can check out the rest of Mewtwo2000's explanation and warnings on his Facebook page. What do you think about this new perspective? Was the dev team right to slam on the brakes immediately, or could they have moved a bit slower in shutting it down? Do you think any of the companies actually would have taken action against them? Speak your thoughts in the comments below!