Double Fine Unchains Game IP, Fans Work To Make The Game For Them

from the the-finer-things dept

In the realm of both embracing new business models in video games and generally being an all around awesome company, it doesn’t get a whole lot better than Double Fine. If we were to write a playbook for a gaming company, it would probably read like Double Fine’s history, from producing enormously entertaining games, to embracing crowd-funding models, to treating their fans in a manner too rare in their industry.

Reader Leo Loikkanen writes in about the latest example of the company’s impressive actions, which involve an attempted game called Bad Golf 2 (there never was a Bad Golf 1, so don’t go looking for it), left unpublished until fans picked up the concept and decided to make the game themselves.

Perhaps Bad Golf 2 will prove to be the One Direction of Double Fine’s latest Amnesia Fortnight prototype-off. Not selected as a winning project in the X-Factorish voting, it seemed destined to never become a reality – until fans decided to make it anyway. And now it’s generating more headlines than any of the “official” picks did.

That’s because fourteen fans of Double Fine are collaborating on the company’s own website to produce this game themselves. So, instead of the game never being produced, it will be realized by dedicated and passionate fans. While many companies might go berserk over this, Double Fine is not your average company. From the top down, everyone seems thrilled.

BG2 ideasmith Patrick Hackett, a ‘tech guru’ at Double Fine, told Eurogamer that “Personally, I was flattered by the idea that people would want to collaborate to make a game idea of mine. I really couldn’t have been more excited to hear about this idea and told them I’d support them as much as I could.”

“As for it being Double Fine’s property – Greg and I brought the situation up to Tim and Justin and they approved of the idea, citing that any production should remain in the creative commons. Because of that, the project’s source control repository is available for free and the final product will never be sold.”

This very specifically bucks every rebuttal typically offered by those that advocate for strong and stronger protection of intellectual property. Somehow, a company is giving free access to their own source code for a game based on IP the company developed, and is happy about doing so, while fans of the company are creating the game under the full knowledge that there won’t be any monetary compensation. How could any of that be possible if we relied on the words of Electronic Arts and their ilk?

The answer is that creation and collaboration are a natural part of the human psyche, and they’re spurred on when the collaborating parties all treat one another like human beings. Meanwhile, Double Fine is already taking an interest in the project’s success as an avenue to then release their own Bad Golf 3 game, should the project pan out. Everyone wins, all because nobody brought the legal hammer down to protect their intellectual property and managed to treat their fans like human beings.

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Comments on “Double Fine Unchains Game IP, Fans Work To Make The Game For Them”

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Jay (profile) says:

The other side...

The answer is that creation and collaboration are a natural part of the human psyche, and they’re spurred on when the collaborating parties all treat one another like human beings. Meanwhile, Double Fine is already taking an interest in the project’s success as an avenue to then release their own Bad Golf 3 game, should the project pan out. Everyone wins, all because nobody brought the legal hammer down to protect their intellectual property and managed to treat their fans like human beings.

This undercuts Every. Last. Game company. Since the 90s. This also undercuts copyright law at its core.

But just for those people that don’t understand, let’s pull up Square.

Remember Square? How they hate their fans? That’s been established for a number of years.

How about EA?

I can pull up a ton of companies that work against their modding community, work to make short term profits, and work against the public.

Strong copyright is supposed to help them make more money but it turns a company against the public. You want to learn how to mod and make a game better? You have to ask permission and good luck with Square without expensive licensing.

Hell, even Capcom has sat here and plagiarized their fanbase by doing the laziest thing possible.

The point is that the rules don’t really matter. What matters is how these publishers treat their fanbase and that’s the issue here.

Treat them like criminals and ignore them and watch the money go elsewhere. Treat them like they’re your innovative fanbase and pay attention to what they want and watch the money flow.

It’s basically the Valve model and most of these companies coming from the 80s aren’t adept at such a change in the digital era.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’ve read several people here and have made comments myself over the way EA has went about gaming and treating it’s customer/fan base. Needless to say, I quit buying from them many years ago.

EAs dropping the ball on SimCity’s latest reincarnation did not effect me at all because I never bought the game nor did I want it. One of the side benefits gaming companies get is when you stay with a franchise, you tend to buy the latest greatest when it comes out. They’ve lost a ton of money from me in not being interested because I no longer have an attachment for their franchises.

So their loss of sales from me was accumulative as a single customer. I can’t imagine how many more people would still be faithful buyers of their products had they chosen to go the route of Double Fine.

DocGerbil100 (profile) says:

I’ve always liked Double Fine.

To be fully honest, not everything DF does is a success – it has some real failures behind it, both critically and commercially speaking.

But not once – not even once – have I felt the terrible buyer’s remorse I’ve had from realising that the latest big-dick EA game or the last Arkham sequel or Diablo God-Damned Fucking Miserable Pay to Win Piece of Shit III is a steaming great load of crap.

Even when a DF game doesn’t work for me and I don’t “feel the love”, the ideas are almost always fresh and interesting, I know they’ve tried their best, they’ll learn and do better – unlike the soup-factories of gaming, my support here means a good company will improve and gaming as a whole can only benefit.

There are very few companies in the world I give my financial loyalty to, very few worthy of genuine praise. Double Fine has been and remains good – I’m happy to reward that with my money, every time. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ninja (profile) says:

Reminds me of Square stomping the attempts at renewing Final Fantasy VII (making it high def and stuff) while not doing what virtually all of its customer base would whore themselves for (FF7 remake).

This is only possible via insane copyrights since the original is over 14 years old (the original copyright span) and you can’t buy it anymore (at least I can’t).

Lonyo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Really? Because Square have been selling it from their own website and from Steam for a while now (their own website for well over a year, Steam for less time).

Also with regard to the guy talking about Blizzard. Some guys basically made a hybrid SCBW/SC2 mod for SC2, which Blizzard supported.
And then Blizzard made the Arcade (custom maps in SC2) free for anyone at all to play, without having to pay for SC2 at all, so basically you can get some of SC2 and SCBW for entirely free made by fans.

Jaqenn says:

Left something out

I agree with much of what you say, and much of what you said here.

However, I think it’s important to point out that this particular game was the result of a rapid prototyping cycle, and at the point that Double Fine set it free it had received a significantly smaller amount of investment than the products that other companies freak out about.

bob (profile) says:

Want to come paint my fence?

Hey, if a bunch of fans want to do all of the work, more power to them. If they want to give away that work to everyone, great.

I would be more optimistic if history was filled with more than a few rare examples of this kind of project coming close to success. They’ll get bored after a few weeks. Open source games are rare and it’s hard to get through the slog of building out all of the layers.

Alt0 says:

Another Game Company has recently entered the Kickstarter, crowd source funding arena with Pantheon.
Brad McQuaid (an orig. developer of EverQuest, the start of all MMOs) put his newest game up on Kickstarter and while they did not meet their mark they have continued development and are raising funds on their own web site.
The interaction (from a former SOE CEO) is outstanding.
I wish all game companies who embrace this new business model success!

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