Metal Gear Solid Fan-Film Sequel Nixed By Game Maker, Even Though They Didn't Threaten The Original Film

from the grinds-my-metal-gears dept

Not so long ago, we wrote about Konami shutting down a fan-remake of the original Metal Gear, the much-beloved initial entry into the vaunted franchise. In that case, Konami did something of a flip-flop, with a company rep telling the development team initially that they had the go-ahead, only for the company’s lawyers to pull the rug out from under the remake at the last moment. Well, flip-flopping seems to be becoming a thing when it comes to Metal Gear fan projects, now that the sequel to a previously released Metal Gear Solid fan-film has been nixed by the lawyers.

The original fan-film was called Metal Gear Solid Philanthropy, and Part 1 was released several years ago. It was generally regarded as mega-awesome. The indie team behind the project received no contact from anyone at Konami or from the Metal Gear Solid team until they met creator Hideo Kojima in person, who told the filmmakers how much he appreciated the film. The team began to work on Part 2. Then, apparently because they just couldn’t freaking help themselves, the Konami brass shut the project down. You can hear from the director himself, in a “Farewell to Philanthropy” video put out.

It takes a better person than I for him to say these words.

“We knew this might’ve happened. And we have nothing against the creators of Metal Gear, the saga that we all love and will continue to love.”

Good for Giacomo Talamini. He’s much stronger with the jedi routine than I am, because I can assure you that if I were in his shoes I would be going full on dark-side. Mind-choking, sand-people killing, the whole bit. It’s one thing to have Konami needlessly shut down a fan project instead of simply working out a zero-sum or cheap licensing arrangement, since the production of this film does absolutely nothing to harm the MGS franchise, and may indeed help spur it on further. But for the filmmakers to have received no negative feedback from Konami on their first film, and for the creator of the damned franchise to express his support, only to have the lawyers lose their lunch partway through the filming of the second film would be too much for me to bear.

Hell, it’s too much for me to bear as a gamer and a fan.

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Comments on “Metal Gear Solid Fan-Film Sequel Nixed By Game Maker, Even Though They Didn't Threaten The Original Film”

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PaulT (profile) says:

“they met creator Hideo Kojima in person, who told the filmmakers how much he appreciated the film”

Pasting here for emphasis, in case one of the usual morons wants to pretend it’s about defending artists. Perhaps they can instead spend their efforts explaining what damage was caused by the films that was so high they literally had to threaten their biggest fans.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m normally one of the first in line to hate on lawyers who shut down fan-made content, but I think this story may be an overreaction. The Kotaku article includes this quote:

“… We were told that Philanthropy could not be officially authorized. And compared to when we made part one, the risk we would face in producing MGSP2 without being officially authorized would be far too great. So, Philanthropy officially ends here.”

Not officially authorising is not the same as shutting it down. The project could have still gone ahead, just that they didn’t want to take the *risk* that Konami might shut it down. Now, of course, there’s no comfort in going into a project with a possible threat from lawyers hanging over it, and I hate that doing something like a fan film is so fraught with peril when it should be something that is celebrated, but Konami was under no obligation to officially authorise the film, and indeed it would have been a surprise if they did so where they had no direct control over the content.

This at least is my reading of the situation – please correct me if I have made any errors.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Not officially authorising is not the same as shutting it down.”

Yes and no. They didn’t “force” the project to end in the sense that they ordered it to be shut down. However, they introduced greater risk, and the producers felt the risk to be unacceptable compared to their first project. Konami could have lowered or removed the risk, but they chose to increase it. In other words, they caused the situation that caused the project to shut down even if they didn’t specifically order it in so many words.

This is one of the biggest problems with current copyright enforcement (and patents, and numerous other things regularly discussed topics). It’s not just about what you can see that’s been affected, it’s about the things that never will exist because of the chilling effect caused by these kinds of actions. There may be other similar projects based on MGS or other Konami projects, that nobody knows were even being considered because, seeing the problems this project had, the producers of other projects never get it past the pre-production phase.

“Konami was under no obligation to officially authorise the film”

Not legally, but as a PR exercise that loses them nothing but pleases many of their biggest fans (and paying customers), surely it would have made sense? Just because they’re not legally obligated to do something, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing to do – for all parties involved.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The point I was trying to make (and should have spelled out explicitly) was that in not being authorised, this film would have been under no more nor less threat than pretty much every fan film ever made. They are all made under possible threat of the lawyers being dicks about protecting their copyright, and they all have to hope that the trigger isn’t pulled.

The makers of this film decided that they couldn’t take that risk. It seems likely that they did take that risk for the first (? haven’t checked that) which makes the decision slightly baffling, especially given the unlikelihood of getting official authorisation.

So the lawyer-trigger hasn’t been pulled by Konami, which seems to be what this TD article is implying, unless I’m missing something very fundamental – the decision is entirely the film makers, to not take what is “normal” risk that fan-made films suffer from. For whatever reason, but it’s not really the fault of Konami.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“The point I was trying to make (and should have spelled out explicitly) was that in not being authorised, this film would have been under no more nor less threat than pretty much every fan film ever made”

I disagree, unless there’s something I’m missing (I’m not in a position to watch the video right now so I have to make a few assumptions not covered in the text).

The stakes change ocne the legal department of the IP owner makes it clear that they aware of your project and do not approve. The risk is still there either way, but the knowledge that Konami were watching and would likely take further action is very different from the circumstances faced when they produced the first film – where Konami were not aware of the project’s existence until they brought it to their attention following completion. There was still a risk, but it was lower.

“I’m missing something very fundamental”

You seem to be missing the main point in my mind, which is that there’s little practical difference between directly shutting a project down and urging the producers to rethink their position. The result is the same, even if it’s through encouragement rather than force. That they didn’t send a direct legal demand for them to shut down doesn’t mean that Konami weren’t responsible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Official authorisation” implies a fair bit more than simple approval, though – it means that the company is happy to have their name and brand associated with the product. With that in mind, I don’t see lack of official authorisation as disapproval, but more as not being willing to take the step of having confirmed association with the product. Official authorisation of fan made stuff is the exception, not the norm.

I haven’t seen anything to suggest that this wasn’t the case with the first film. The company boss loving it is not official authorisation. So it’s not clear what is actually different here than for the first film.

If I were to speculate, it seems to be more that the film makers are trying to set up a more professional front (starting their own company?) where getting into a trademark wrangle would harm their reputation, so they aren’t taking the risk of that happening.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

“”Official authorisation” implies a fair bit more than simple approval, though”

True, but from the tone of what’s been written, it seems Konami weren’t willing to go through whatever approval process they have. I don’t have all the details so I am speculating, but the impression I’m getting is that they were told they’d be unlikely to get it or that the costs would be too great for the producers in this case.

“The company boss loving it is not official authorisation.”

He’s not the boss, he’s vice president of one of its divisions, and the designer of the original game series. In other words, they have the blessing of the guy who actually came up with the IP they’re utilising, but not necessarily the people who own it. Assuming he was aware of these moves, he may have been able to pull some strings, but it’s likely that either the corporate legal department were acting independently or it was too difficult to make a quick approval. Again, this might be their right, but it’s unfortunate.

“If I were to speculate, it seems to be more that the film makers are trying to set up a more professional front (starting their own company?) where getting into a trademark wrangle would harm their reputation, so they aren’t taking the risk of that happening.”

This is also possible, although starting a company is hardly unusual (most movies have LLCs set up for the express purpose of making a single movie, for tax and other reasons). This may merely be because it was crowdfunded as opposed to coming from a single investor like the first film (at least according to my quick googling today), or because there was a higher production budget attached (though I couldn’t confirm this right now). Anything else you read into that is debatable and I don’t think we have the facts to really know at this point.

Either way, the ultimate power is with Konami, and it’s their contact with the producers that have caused the project to be killed, directly or indirectly, whether they shoulder the full blame or not.

Henrie_Schnee (profile) says:

I’ve seen the original fan movie back in it’s day and I can assure you, it was indeed an awesome piece of fan fiction. However, the above story doesn’t strike me as a surprise. Back in the day of Web 1.0, you had a lot of these japanese legacy companies that had no idea how to monetize the internet, much less beyond their own country borders. So private fan pages did a lot of the footwork for them, be it translating background material from japanese sources, hosting the OSTs or providing FAQs.
It was a different internet back then. Money destroyed it.

Rekrul says:

How many times does it need to be said?

If you’re making something that a big company might object to, DON’T ADVERTISE IT!

If you just wait and dump the finished product on the net, it’s highly unlikely that they will sue for a non-commercial project. The most that will happen is that their lawyers will send you a legal nasty-gram telling you to take it down. Of course, once it’s been posted to the net in downloadable form, it will live on forever. You comply with the legal notice and your project is out there for people to enjoy.

All that bragging about it does is give the company an opportunity to squash it before you can finish it. Then, even if they haven’t sent you any legal notices, they might at some point in the future, making all your work pointless.

Don’t brag about fan films or game remakes, just make them!

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:

How so?

Scenario 1: You make a fan film without telling anyone and release it. If the company objects to it and tells you to take it down, then they probably never would have allowed you to make it in the first place. At least the film is out there for the fans to enjoy.

Scenario 2: You announce your intention to make a fan film. The company objects and tells you not to make it. The film never gets made. Or they say nothing, you start making your film and halfway through, the company tells you to stop or be sued. You’ve wasted a ton of time and money, the movie will never be finished and you can’t even release what you did film without potentially being sued.

With either scenario, you’re not allowed to make sequels.

Sure, there’s the rare chance that the company will tell you that it’s OK to make your movies as long as you don’t make any money off them, but you can’t count on that. There’s even the chance that the company will tell you that you can make your movie and then revoke that permission at a later date, like happened with one video game remake.

DigDug says:

Penalty should be 1000x total billed to each customer

Payable to the customers, and a second identical number payable to the government.

That would definitely stop these greedy corporations in their tracks.

We overbilled you 3 dollars and 25 cents on your 100 dollar bill.

We now owe you 1 million dollars and the FCC 1 million dollars, for each time we did it.

Yeah, that sounds eminently fair to me.

Bankrupt these evil tyrants.

Anonymoose Custard (profile) says:

Hasbro has been doing the same thing lately.

The people at Hasbro and the studio responsible for My Little Pony; Friendship is Magic have had, for quite a while, a friendly, amicable relationship. Hasbro has been very excited about the massive quantity of creative work coming out of the Brony community (videos, music, fan art, stories, even fan-created episodes like Double Rainboom and Snowdrop, among others). In fact, they’ve said that the reason they made the movie Equestria Girls was specifically because of the prolific “humanized pony” fan art going around.

It’s been a great thing all around for both the fan community and for Hasbro’s bottom line.

And then Hasbro’s legal team sent a Cease & Desist to JanAnimations over his extremely popular Adventures of Button Mash, which uses a character from the show (one who appears for less than 4 seconds in each of only two episodes.) Worst of all, no one at Hasbro even knew about the C&D letter until someone asked them about it.

Hasbro has since been in talks with JanAnimations about letting him revive the Button Mash work he’d started.

And then Hasbro’s legal team sent a C&D to the creators of the also very popular Mentally Advanced series.

Given circumstances like this, I sincerely doubt that Konami and its legal department have even ever communicated about Philanthropy.

These corporate legal teams don’t know or care about the secondary effects of fan works. All they see is possible trademark dilution or Copyright infringement.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Hasbro has been doing the same thing lately.

“These corporate legal teams don’t know or care about the secondary effects of fan works. All they see is possible trademark dilution or Copyright infringement.”

True, but in all fairness to the lawyers — that’s their job. Expecting them to behave differently is like expecting the military to recognize and solve problems in a nonmilitary way.

The real failure is when nobody oversees what the lawyers do.

I’ll give a personal example: I hired my business attorney because he’s aggressive to the point of almost being rabid. I did this because I my personality is not that at all, and I think that a key part of being successful in business is to hire people who can cover the areas where you are personally weak. So I did.

My attack dog attorney would often propose legal action you’d expect from an attack dog attorney. I never once allowed him to take an aggressive offensive action. His main job, in my eyes, was to be aggressively defensive by warning me of potential problems as well as actively defending me against legal attackers. My job was to listen to his recommendations and decide whether or not any of them were appropriate. That’s where companies often fall down on the legal front. They don’t have effective oversight of their attorneys.

Anonymous Coward says:


The problem Konami had with Metal Gear Solid Philanthropy Part 2 is probably the effect they feel it could have on the impending release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. It might not be an obvious or even high-risk impact, but Konami won’t want to chance MGSP2 being a flop (which I know it wouldn’t; part 1 was amazing and the teaser for part 2 had me incredibly excited only to be later disappointed when I learned that the project was shut down) and possibly effecting The Phantom Pain’s sales.

Valentina Paggiarin (profile) says:

Thank you!

Hi, I’m Valentina from Hive Division (author and producer) and I found your article about our story with MGS Philanthropy!
Thanks for the kind words – and your rage, too 🙂
I must admit that it’s been “unpleasant” for us, but as someone states in the comments above, we could have expected it: when you mess with someone else’s IP, you know they can tell you to stop!
We were actually told that the issue wasn’t the crowdfunding per se, but actually the project: so, even if we went on without asking for money to cover our expenses, and we produced and release the movie for free, we would have faced hard consequences.

Even if the fact that we can’t complete our trilogy makes us sad, we have always worked also on other original projects, and we really hope that people that enjoyed our way to make sci-fi movies/videos, will follow us also in our new, original productions!
Thanks again for writing this (and for all the following discussion, of course)!

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