Earlier this year, a Nintendo game tester hired through a contracting firm filed a labor complaint stating that some union-busting actions had taken place, which would go against federally protected rights to discuss unionization. We now know it was Mackenzie Clifton behind the complaint, and they’re sharing more of their story in a new interview.

Axios spoke to Clifton about the issue and the coverage that ensued, and they’re hopeful its been an eye-opening experience for everyone who either works in games or follows games for entertainment purposes.

Clifton says that during a Q&A session with Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser, she asked what Nintendo thought about the unionization trend in QA in the games industry. Bowser didn’t respond to the question, but the next day a supervisor from Aston Carter called Clifton, stating that they asked a “downer question,” and asked her to present any similar questions to Aston Carter instead of Nintendo. Roughly one month later, Clifton was fired from her position.

Nintendo said Clifton was let go for publicly disclosing “confidential information,” and they pointed to the following tweet from Clifton as proof.

“In today’s build someone somewhere must have deleted every other texture in the game bc everything is now red. Just like, pure red. it’s very silly.”

Before being let go from Nintendo, Clifton was involved with playtesting for Smash Bros. Ultimate. There was an effort made by the playtesting team to get their names in the credits of Smash Bros. Ultimate, but that idea was shot down. Clifton said this decision left them “utterly crushed,” and drove them to suicidal ideation. Soon thereafter, Clifton cited a medical emergency, and told their bosses they wouldn’t be coming into the office.

Following this incident, Smash Bros. Ultimate’s credits did get updated, and playetester names were added to the rundown. This came as part of the final content update to Smash Bros. Ultimate, released on December 1st, 2021. This means it was implemented prior to Clifton’s firing, along with the union comments.

After Clifton was fired, there was an investigation and talks for a possible settlement. Clifton wanted a letter of apology signed by NoA president Bowser, and Nintendo countered with an offer to speak to HR, and a neutral letter of reference.

Thanks to Anonymous for the heads up!

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Comments (9)


1+ y ago

Uh oh. Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Nintendo needs to fix their US operations. Too many allegations for their not to be legitimate problems.

Edited 2 times


1+ y ago

“In today’s build someone somewhere must have deleted every other texture in the game bc everything is now red. Just like, pure red. it’s very silly.”

What a super weak reason to fire someone. Sounds like they were looking for any lame excuse to fire them. You see this kind of crap in all walks of life. I don't blame Mackenzie Clifton for wanting an apology and that's a pitiful counter offer by Nintendo.


1+ y ago

It's time to get these crazies out of Nintendo and other game industry companies.
I hate these union creeps with a passion, they cry, they lie and they play dirty to obtain power and will only help themselves, their ideology.

Nintendo did the right thing firing Clifton but they need to comb through the entire NoA branch and nip any future problems in the bud.


1+ y ago


Agreed. Honestly, this is all that needs to be said. The only thing I can see ensuing is this comment section getting increasingly combative and toxic.


1+ y ago


Consider yourself to be very fortunate to work somewhere and not feel like you need a union. But don't shit on other folks that work elsewhere that might *need* a union. Show some empathy and compassion.


1+ y ago

Keep this up Nintendo and mainstream news is gonna put you on blast, and your squeaky clean image will be tainted.


1+ y ago

The reason for the firing was imo absolutely justified.
For the rest of the story, I don't think anybody outside the company is qualified to judge.

I remember the case of Alison Rapp, who had a similar story to tell about NOA, and everybody was on her side. Then, later, it came to the light that she absolutely deserved to be fired, for reasons she kept for herself.

Just want to say that we only can judge about the things we are hearing. We might not know the full story.

the utility man

1+ y ago

Good on you Nintendo. You need to be more careful about who you hire though.


1+ y ago


Tbf, this is one of the same allegations that was reported earlier in the year, not a new one