Sega hires fan game makers, Capcom publishes them, and Nintendo sends takedown notices
“A publisher has to protect its property, which is why Nintendo sues/litigates fan game makers.” It’s a phrase you see often, especially in defense of Nintendo, but it’s not quite true in all cases, is it?
Why didn’t Capcom lose the rights to the Mega Man IP when Street Fighter x Mega Man was created, among a litany of other fan creations? I must have also missed the news about Sega losing the Sonic IP to fans after the 1000+ Sonic fan games created every year tore it asunder from Sega’s cold dead hands.
While copyright/trademark law (difference) is a mess, many publishers have found a way to transmute a curse into a blessing. Nintendo, just like they were with the now-defunct “YouTube Creator’s Program,” are behind the times with fan games.
If the internet finds out about a fan game (which is natural, they released it to the public with the intention for people to play it, knowing full well that some publishers will go after them, so reporting is fair game: I’ve even had consent from creators to do this while folks complain that “reporters ruined the fun”), you can give Nintendo around two days tops to send their legal team.
Remember AM2R? It ruled, right? Or Pokemon Uranium? Or No Mario’s Sky? Those, like the recent Mario Royale fan game (which is now jokingly reworked into DMCA Royale with new assets), briefly blossomed until they were snuffed out. On one hand, they have to expect this will happen right? On the other, publishers have embraced it for their benefit.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and publishers don’t have to instantly lose access to their IP if they support fans. Just look at Valve and Counter-Strike. While folks today take that series for granted, it actually began life as a mod. Valve is also working in tandem with the creators of Battle Chess as of this year to help build the DOTA 2 community. Id Software, even under Bethesda, openly embraces mods. Then you have the countless other examples from the aforementioned Capcom and Sega, who have worked with the fan side in a way that everyone wins. It’s gotten to the point where Sega has openly chastised Nintendo for it.
Nintendo is 100% within their legal rights to protect themselves, don’t get it twisted. You could also argue that their IP are more valuable, despite the fact other IP in question are also ubiquitous and those same publishers peddle multi-million sellers just like Nintendo does. But like the misstep with the YouTube Creator’s Program, there is a better and smarter way to go about it.
DCMA Royale [Inferno]