Posted by King9999 (613 posts) -

Not too long ago, GameSpot had an article showcasing an unlikely fighting game called My Little Pony: Fighting is Magic. I knew about this game long before GameSpot featured it, but I thought that getting exposure from a major website was a huge boon.Who would have thought that a fighting game about ponies would make it on the front page of one of the biggest video game sites in the world?In the article, there's a quote from Mane6 team member Jay Wright: "Hasbro has been very supportive of the creativity in the fan community, in all aspects. Plus, I think it helps that we're developing a game that would otherwise not exist at all."

I discovered that Hasbro sent a cease & desist letter to Mane6.What happened to the support?

Let me set things straight before I continue: Hasbro is completely within their rights to stop any and all content that infringe on their IP, whether it was intentional, non-intentional, for profit, or for non-profit.I'm not writing to complain about the C&D.I'm writing to question whether a C&D is an appropriate response when there could be an opportunity to generate more interest towards a brand.

My Little Pony: Fighting is Magic

Fan-made games getting a C&D is nothing new.Highly anticipated games get shut down all the time.Let's look at two popular fan games that got shut down, and I'll try to explain why it was a missed opportunity for the IP owners.

Streets of Rage Remake

Streets of Rage Remake is a remake of the famous Sega Genesis brawler series.The game was created by Bomber Games, a team based in Spain.SORR keeps the same basic story, where the goal is to take down Mr. X and his empire. But the remake includes remixed music, branching paths, new cutscenes, the return of Adam, and various game modes, such as volleyball (complete with the first stage music from Super Adventure Island!).The game also let you change certain mechanics; so if you prefer, say, SOR3's combo system instead of SOR2's, the option is present.You can see for yourself how much work and content went into creating SORR.Soon after Bomber Games completed the project, Sega sent their C&D letter.The only way to experience SORR now is if someone downloaded the game before it got taken down.If you know someone with the game, please check it out because the team did some amazing things with the series.

Streets of Rage Remake.An awesome game...if you can find it.

I wonder if there's anyone internally at Sega who played SORR in its entirety and thought "this is really good work!"When I learned of the C&D, I was baffled as to how a company can just shut something down without giving it a second thought.I'm no expert on law, but could Sega not have worked with Bomber Games to produce something official, instead of removing it from existence?I'm sure that Sega is aware that there are fans of their old IP; SORR is proof that, if Sega took the time, they might be able to turn interest into dollars. I would've paid for something like SORR, at least.

Chrono Resurrection

The termination of this game is well-known.I'm sure there are some people in a corner of the world who hate Square Enix to this day for handing out a C&D.I don't think I have to explain where Square Enix went wrong here.Oh wait...I just did.

Don't count on the current Square Enix to release a CT remake...or even a new Chrono game.

Like I said, you have to wonder if anyone not from the legal department saw what fans were making and thought, "wow, this is some good work.I wonder if we could do something with this..."I feel that handing out a C&D isn't always appropriate, even though it's entirely a company's right to do so.Thankfully, there are some companies who let things slide; there are numerous Mario games that can be found if you look hard enough.One game in particular, Super Mario Bros. Crossover, is notable for having properties from multiple NES games, wide open for anyone to see.And then there's Mega Man, where you can practically stumble on a random 8-bit fan game.Actually, I'm glad I brought up Mega Man, because Capcom deserves mention for something they did that more companies should consider before handing out a C&D: endorsing a fan game.

Street Fighter x Mega Man: An Example Of An Alternative To The C&D

It's easy for a Mega Man fan like myself to get excited for a promising MM fan game, and SFxMM was no exception.But what surprised me was Capcom's active interest in the game.Normally, Capcom just turns a blind eye to the millions of MM fan games out there (I plan to make one myself!).I'd be surprised if they sent a C&D for any of them.But here we have a fan game that was endorsed by a company who could have easily shut down this game, but instead promoted it as part of their 25th Mega Man anniversary and released it as a free downloadable game.

We know they're watching us make these games...why not leverage the interest they generate?

Now, imagine what Sega or Square Enix could have done with the games that they shut down.They could have made a similar gesture and promoted SORR and Chrono Resurrection, giving their respective brands more awareness, and possibly generate active demand for a new game.That new demand would then turn into dollars.Capcom stressed that they wanted everyone to download SFxMM directly from their site instead of downloading it once and sharing the game with friends.Can you guess why?

Your Fans Love What You Do.Why Punish Their Expressions Of Love?

Going back to the MLP situation, it's kind of hard to believe now that Hasbro is supporting fan works when they decided to shut down Fighting is Magic.A common thread among C&Ds--and what bothers me most about them--is the timing in which they're sent.Hasbro knew about this game long before GameSpot featured it, so why did they wait until now to halt the project?I doubt they're planning on making a fighting game, but it's a safe bet that Fighting is Magic at least brought brand awareness to a community who would not have looked at MLP otherwise.Reports within the community suggest that Mane6 had a hit on their hands; even some of the show's voice actors played the game and were excited.Instead of running with the excitement (or "hype," as it's called in the fighting game community), Hasbro's legal team killed it.As I said before, I'm not a law expert, so maybe there's more to the issue than what I know, but from where I'm sitting, it doesn't make sense to stamp out potential gold mines, especially when there's no malicious intent.

#1 Posted by Village_Guy (2534 posts) -

Yeah, fans of FIghting is Magic and the general Brony community was quite shocked and some a bit outraged over at Equestria Daily when we heard the news.

A real shame, especially when they have worked on it for so long, if the owner of the IP is going to shut it down do it early at least.

Fighting is Magic is especially tragic in my opinion since Hasbro would never make that game themselves, and the game seemed like it was close to being ready for a first release. I can understand when the C&D happens in cases like the C&C:Generals Halo mod, where Halo Wars was being worked on at the same time.

But something harmless like an MLP fighting game wouldn't cost Hasbro any lost financial gains, since they aren't going to make that game themselves, it was made very tasteful and in the shows spirit (as in not featuring blood and gore for example)...

#2 Posted by Renahzor (991 posts) -

MLP is an active, relatively popular IP. TV shows and merchandising are the main revenue stream obviously, but we have no idea if they're planning games in the future. Allowing someone to continue using it for free legally would hurt the value of the license in the future. Additionally, Hasboro is in its best interest to kill this project now even if they wanted to work with the team. Let them do all the work, shut it down, then you have ALL the leverage. They can buy the rights for a huge sum, give their work to Hasboro for virtually nothing, or change the project not to include their IP. Its pretty much a no brainer for them IMO.

You can disagree with C&Ds all you like, but this is an extremely active IP. They would be risking a lot by not defending their copyrighted material. People should know better at this point.

#3 Edited by psylah (2169 posts) -

I think that some of the potential damage comes from the fact that if this game is completed and becomes somewhat popular, there is a reasonable chance that anyone searching for "MLP game" in a search engine will come up with Fighting is Magic, and upon first look, it is of such high quality that you could think it is an official Hasbro product. Considering Hasbro has started making games based on the current gen of ponies, this not only detracts from people finding their officially branded product, but also gives potential customers the impression that Hasbro is putting out MLP games that promote fighting.

#5 Edited by Sinusoidal (1379 posts) -

Some interesting points, but perhaps a little biased.

The vast majority of fan-made content is garbage. The examples you list are diamonds atop a pile of turds.

#6 Posted by King9999 (613 posts) -
@renahzor said:

MLP is an active, relatively popular IP.TV shows and merchandising are the main revenue stream obviously, but we have no idea if they're planning games in the future.Allowing someone to continue using it for free legally would hurt the value of the license in the future.Additionally, Hasboro is in its best interest to kill this project now even if they wanted to work with the team.Let them do all the work, shut it down, then you have ALL the leverage.They can buy the rights for a huge sum, give their work to Hasboro for virtually nothing, or change the project not to include their IP.Its pretty much a no brainer for them IMO.

You can disagree with C&Ds all you like, but this is an extremely active IP.They would be risking a lot by not defending their copyrighted material.People should know better at this point.

See, that's the problem I have with Hasbro's C&D. If they were making a fighting game, then the C&D would make a lot more sense. But I would bet money that they aren't, given their target audience. But they must have seen the excitement FIM was generating, though. It was even considered for a spot at Evo 2013. Could Hasbro not have endorsed FIM in some way?

Going by your comment, does that mean that it's OK for Capcom to not shut down fan-made Mega Man games because the series isn't active at the moment? Fan games existed for years, even when Capcom was actively releasing new games. Yet, I see no consequences on either side for leaving those fan games alone. It's not like people will stop buying official games. In fact, people have been begging Capcom for more Mega Man games.

The fans who make these games aren't stupid. They wouldn't dare try to make money off of someone else's IP without a license. They make these games purely out of love for the brand. That's the only reason why FIM existed. I believe the show's creator offered assets for the game on Twitter...that is the extent of the interest, and Hasbro put a stop to all of it. I don't want to look like I'm complaining because that's their right, but it seemed to me that Hasbro could have done something with the excitement. I want to see more examples like SFxMM.

#7 Posted by King9999 (613 posts) -

Some interesting points, but perhaps a little biased.

The vast majority of fan-made content is garbage. The examples you list are diamonds atop a pile of turds.


You need to have an eye for the good stuff. Have you played this, for example?

#8 Edited by Renahzor (991 posts) -

@king9999: Copyright infringement has almost nothing to do with commercial viability of the product being made. The real problem with letting something like this exist on a current, active IP is reduction of overall brand value in negotiations down the road, if Hasbro wanted to make any game. Publishers would see that they allowed a popular game to be made with no licensing fees or royalties whatsoever. Why would you then pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it right? It's in their best interest to stop them making/releasing the game regardless of their profit to protect the brand value down the road. In fact, the only thing charging for a product changes in copyright defense is damages awarded at the end. If this went to completion they could fairly easily prove their brand was damaged in a significant way, a C&D is doing the team a favor of not being on the receiving end of a multi-million dollar infringement lawsuit. Its entirely up to the people who own the rights to decide how they want that property to be used, and something that is making tons of money already has no interest in letting someone use that brand for free.

Also I object to the title of this thread entirely. There is no opportunity here for Hasbro, regardless of how well the fans treat the IP. An opportunity would be them taking an alpha, feature complete build to Hasbro and pitching them a contract with royalties and licensing fees the way its supposed to be done. Anyone taking a risk by blatantly infringing on a copyright knows the risks, you're right they aren't stupid, but they should know better.

The creator offering to help them come up with new characters is great, it doesn't have anything to do with Hasbro though, that's an artist offering help to someone who liked what they created by getting them something that isn't owned by someone else already.

#9 Edited by King9999 (613 posts) -
#10 Posted by Renahzor (991 posts) -

@king9999: SF x MM was brought to Capcom in alpha at EVO 2012, before they made the entire game, well before the point when Hasbro had to C&D FIM. That's the proper way to do it, approach the IP holder before you go and make an entire product. It garners good will for your team to the owners of the IP you want to use if nothing else. And then at that point the owner of the IP can decide what's best, in Capcom's case they're more in touch with the gaming communities to know that it would garner some good will in the community, AND they leveraged it as a marketing opportunity for their anniversary to get people re-interested in the franchise.

The difference is in how you go about using someone's IP.

#11 Edited by King9999 (613 posts) -

@renahzor: I can't "like" your post, so I'll just say that I like your response.

Then I guess the question then is whether Mane6 approached Hasbro before creating FIM. Even if they did, it's not a guarantee that the game wouldn't have gotten shut down, right? And if they did not, does it always have to result in a C&D? Was this not even up for debate? Surely Hasbro knew about this game in the early stages...why not kill it then, rather than later when it got all this positive attention and so much work was put into it?

#12 Edited by King9999 (613 posts) -

@renahzor: I can't "like" your post, so I'll just say that I like your response.

Then I guess the question then is whether Mane6 approached Hasbro before creating FIM. Even if they did, it's not a guarantee that the game wouldn't have gotten shut down, right? And if they did not, does it always have to result in a C&D? Was this not even up for debate? Surely Hasbro knew about this game in the early stages...why not kill it then, rather than later when it got all this positive attention and so much work was put into it?

#13 Edited by Renahzor (991 posts) -

@king9999: It's certainly no guarantee, but it sets the groundwork for not having your project shut down after much hard work and effort. Such a meeting would generally entail discussing specifics of how the IP can be used at all if it gets to that point(IE: in SF x MM Capcom took some control over it to make sure it was in line with what they want their IP to be). It is not necessarily 100% of the time something will receive a C&D for copyright infringement if they don't contact the owner first, but when you're dealing with large corporations, its extremely likely if/when they find out you'll get one in the mail. With a big company like Hasbro, it was probably not even a second thought about it. They send it off to legal, who sees someone using the property that should not be, and a C&D is delivered. At that point it can be for any number of reasons, but at the very least it forces the infringing party to either stop, or contact the owner for a meeting regarding the product.

When Hasbro knew or didn't know is really moot, they can let it continue after finding out in hopes that its an early build and the dev will contact them, or to let the IP be used because its garnering attention and shut it down just before its ready. There's always the possibility no one high enough up at Hasbro even knew about it or took it seriously until they got a huge influx of popularity from the EVO voting.

The bottom line is the responsibility of contact lies with the people wanting to use an IP they do not own. Contacting Hasbro with an actual alpha build and a plan could have gone any number of ways. Hasbro sees it and says no, stop in which case they lose no more than prototyping time. They see it and say you can use it for X amount of dollars and royalties on sales, and a contract is written or rejected based on what the dev wants and can negotiate. And in rare cases, you get an IP owner who sees the value in the product for what they want to do in the future and can be used as some clever marketing, agrees to let you use the IP and helps it along to get it out the door and polished for their fans, and you get SF x MM.

#14 Edited by MildMolasses (3218 posts) -

All copyright aside, the larger issue about Hasbro wanting to expand their MLP is that a fighting game is not something that they would want to associate with it. If these guys were making an adventure game, then there might be an entirely different response from Hasbro, and they would treat it more like a tribute to the show. But they aren't going to want people to stumble across a fighting game and thinking that they had something to do with it. Just because people aren't profiting from it doesn't mean it isn't damaging in other ways to the brand

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#15 Posted by Poki3 (525 posts) -

Another worth mentioning is Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes.

#16 Posted by inknail (155 posts) -

Thanks for the discussion King9999 and Renahzor, mostly good answers to good questions. A lot of similar questions are discussed in this video about the situation. UltraDavid (the one on the left) is an entertainment law attorney in addition to being a commentator in the fighting game community.

#17 Edited by King9999 (613 posts) -
#18 Edited by IonAgenda (32 posts) -

I always take issue with these kind of things not because I'm so keen on defending the copyrights of massive corporations (who are often perhaps a little overly aggressive), but rather that if these games actually achieve the super high level of quality that a lot of their fans imply they have, they're using existing IPs that they don't own as a crutch.

In the current atmosphere littered with official iterations, it is a little exhausting to see that sometimes really talented people would rather contribute to the fandom of some certain IP (and that's all they are, different worlds and characters that people really invest themselves in, there's no "best" IP, though maybe there are some "worst" ones), rather than to actually contribute to Games as a whole.

By now people HAVE to know going into this that they'll get shut down by any company that holds anything about any IP unless it's the mistiest of vaporware... right?