Nintendo DMCAs Fan-Game 'No Mario's Sky', Devs Rename It 'DMCA Sky'

from the way-to-go dept

In the world of video games, it’s always useful to remember one thing: Nintendo hates you. More specifically, Nintendo hates its fans that go about expressing their fandom in ways that Nintendo does not specifically approve of. And Nintendo doesn’t approve of much it seems, whether its fan-remakes of games made 25 years previously, fan videos of fan-created Mario Bros. levels, or fan-made movies featuring Nintendo game characters. Nintendo is not on board when it comes to its customers’ desire to be creative and express their love for the games the company makes or the characters within them.

That stance continues to present, with Nintendo shutting down all kinds of fan-made creations. Those creators typically walk away from their projects in defeat. But when Nintendo decided to send a DMCA complaint to the creators of No Mario’s Sky, those creators didn’t just walk away. The game itself came out of a coding competition.

Ludum Dare (Latin “to give a game”) is a triannual game coding competition that was first held in 2002. In recent years it has become more popular after Minecraft designer Markus Persson became a semi-regular entrant. Its unique feature is that competitors are given a theme and then expected to produce a finished game in 48 to 72 hours.

One of the team entrants to Ludum Dare 36 (theme ‘Ancient Tech’) were ASMB Games (Alex McDonald, Sam Izzo, Max Cahill, Ben Porter) with their creation No Mario’s Sky, a game featuring “exploration and survival in an infinite procedurally generated universe.” While the game’s title clearly plays on Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky, it was the Nintendo element that got ASMB in hot water with the gaming giant.

The developers complied with the DMCA request sent by Nintendo. This also voided their entry into the competition. The team put out an announcement that detailed the DMCA request and thanked their fans for playing the game while it had been available. And that would normally be the end of this story, with another fan-created project torpedoed by the always-aggressive Nintendo.

In this case, however, the story continues.

While it’s disappointing that the game had to be taken down, ASMB weren’t quite done. After addressing the issues highlighted by Nintendo of America, the team went back to work and removed all ‘infringing’ content from No Mario’s Sky. The end result is a new game cheekily titled DMCA’s Sky.

And so the game Nintendo tried to kill off lives on and has even been renamed so as to increase the awareness of Nintendo’s aggressive and bullying ways. Meanwhile, because of the controversy, a heck of a lot more people are being exposed to DMCA’s Sky than would have been otherwise. Bang up job, Nintendo.

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Comments on “Nintendo DMCAs Fan-Game 'No Mario's Sky', Devs Rename It 'DMCA Sky'”

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Thad (user link) says:

Rather similar to Dweezil Zappa Plays Whatever the Fuck He Wants: The Cease and Desist Tour.

I hope more fan devs will take cues from this. Something like AM2R can’t really be decoupled from its infringing content (because it’s based so fundamentally on Metroid 2; you could redo the graphics but you’d still have the enemy, powerup, and item placement and behavior and the overall map; you’d basically have to remake the entire game from scratch to make it noninfringing), but there are a hell of a lot of fan games whose creators could just slap a new coat of paint on them and they’d no longer be infringing. (Zelda Classic, for example, could swap out all its graphics and sounds and stop bundling the maps from the original game, and it would no longer infringe any copyrights. It might still infringe trademarks — does Nintendo own a trademark on “Zelda”, or just “The Legend of Zelda”? — but then all they’d have to do would be change the name.)

It’s a shame to lose out on those games entirely. These devs have the right idea; cut out the infringing content and rerelease the game. Shaming Nintendo in the process is justified too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’d argue that the devs had the right idea originally when they had the allegedly infringing content in the game. Freedom of expression is a paramount value here. For AM2R, this would’ve helped revive a franchise for Nintendo that’s on life support. Instead, Nintendo killed off that goodwill as Metroid sinks further into obscurity.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I agree that Nintendo shouldn’t have shut down AM2R in the first place, that it was a strategic blunder against a game that wasn’t harming their brand or competing with any of their current offerings, and could in fact have increased goodwill and helped them sell more games. (At least an increase in sales on Metroid games on Virtual Console.)

But Nintendo had the legal right to shut it down, whether or not that was a good idea or reasonable decision. And AM2R doesn’t have the recourse that other fangames do; the dev can’t just slap a new coat of paint on it and release it as a noninfringing game, like the DMCA’s Sky devs could and did. That was my point.

But that, of course, is by design; AM2R isn’t an original game made in a similar style to Metroid (like Axiom Verge, Guacamelee, or any number of other examples; it seems like every indy game in the past 5 years has either been a Metroidvania or a Roguelike-like), it’s a modern remake of Metroid 2. That’s it’s reason for being, and it’s a worthy reason for being, as Nintendo itself proved with Metroid: Zero Mission. I downloaded it, I look forward to playing it, and I wish that Nintendo would not only leave fans alone but would make more games like what those fans are making.

Ben S (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

As some one who has beaten it with 100% completion, I will say it’s a great game. A lot of people have suggested Nintendo sent the DMCA, then later a C&D to the dev’s personal email, due to being embarrassed by the work this guy did. While I doubt that, I can see why people would think that. It’s an extremely well designed game with out even really any noticeable bugs since the 1.1 patch.

Hey Herc! says:

an example of what can happen when people are not abused

wait this was when 2002 and there is still an active following?!

wait they are doing it on their own dime and because they love the game, that is anti communist cannot be allowed

Capitalism has somehow become Communism, it is possible you have been lied to.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: an example of what can happen when people are not abused

Neverwinter Nights is my favorite example of a game that’s a much better engine and dev kit than game. The fan mods far surpass the campaign.

Well I’ll be dipped: they’ve got A Hero’s Death, an entry in the ’06 BioWare Writing Contest by some guy named Thad Boyd. That takes me back.

Thanks for the link and the nostalgia.

Whatever (profile) says:

I guess my problem with this is simple:

Did the game designers use Mario specifically to either get a boost by association, or hoping to get the sort of result they got? it appears to be marketing, plain and simple.

Their original game didn’t need Mario. The reference and the use of assets in that manner seems futile and risky, unless of course you are hoping to get a whole bunch of exposure online for the results through sites like Techdirt and Torrent Freak.

I dunno, seems like you guys are getting played!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I’m…unsure what you mean by this. Technically, Mario doesn’t need Mario. Pretty much anyone can run around collecting mushrooms and fighting oddly shaped enemies while not talking or really communicating in any way. Mario is actually a nonentity, he has no discernible personality and a backstory so minimal it’s like it’s not even there.

In other words, most of the time it’s not about marketing, it’s about people who really love a game or movie or book series or comic or anime etc. deciding that, yes, no man’s sky is better with Mario because Mario is awesome. Now if we are discussing your inability to comprehend fandoms, then by all means continue.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The reference and the use of assets in that manner seems futile and risky, unless of course you are hoping to get a whole bunch of exposure online for the results through sites like Techdirt and Torrent Freak.

Or maybe they were fans and there was something Mario-related that inspired them to create something new…. you know… like normal people.

Creation is always based on “someone else’s work” and most normal people don’t even consider the insane over-reach that has become “derivative works” until they run face-on into it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“like normal people”

He doesn’t understand how they think, sadly.

It is rather telling that he jumps to the conclusion that there has to be a marketing/commercial angle rather than fans of both games simply creating a mashup for a competition without considering a legal angle. Perhaps the lack of imagination and creativity and the inability to build creatively upon the things that inspire him are what lead him to spend his life poorly trolling articles.

Anonymous Coward says:

Newsflash: gamers are STILL stupid

In the world of video games, it’s always useful to remember one thing: Nintendo hates you.

Yes. They do. They’ve been completely consistent about this and have made it clear that they have utter contempt for their customers…

…who still continue to buy their products. Because they’re stupid, pathetic sheep who lack the basic self-control required to stop doing so. Which Nintendo knows, of course: it’s the basis of their corporate strategy, which has been immensely profitable.

The same goes for these game designers: how could they possibly not know that Nintendo would drop the DMCA hammer at the first available opportunity? And yet they coded this anyway, and thus got what they should have known was coming all along.

Maybe Nintendo will sue them. I hope so. Because given a choice between Nintendo, which is clearly evil — but at least competent and smart about it — and a pack of moronic worthless game designers who are so pathetically stupid that they couldn’t see this coming — I’ll take Nintendo.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Newsflash: gamers are STILL stupid

Quick question – ACs are always obsessed with attacking gamers whenever a story like this comes up. Do you attack people who have other pastimes in the same way, or do you only have an obsession with attacking that one group of people (while ignoring the millions of gamers who don’t buy from these companies, of course)?

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Newsflash: gamers are STILL stupid

There’s a value to boycotts and to voting with your dollars. The Xbox One is still suffering from MS’s early arrogant stance on DRM, and the PS Vita never caught on for much the same reason.

But it’s also entirely possible to support a company’s products while disliking the company’s behavior. I’d be very surprised indeed if you’d never financially contributed to a company that you find abhorrent in some way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Since Nintendo is lawyer happy, and is planning to sue ANYONE talking about their new console which will be released next year, the solution is simple – every review site should just stop mentioning ANYTHING nintendo and let the company burn to the ground.

Hell, they haven’t been relevant since years 1 and 2 of the Wii – All they’ve done since is release a fourth-rate console and some rehashes of older games. Fifth rate if you include android tablets for gaming….

joon (user link) says:

silent fan

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