Sega Takes Potshots At DMCA-Happy Nintendo While Being Cool About Fan Games

from the doing-it-right dept

While Nintendo has been making waves for some time with its overly aggressive DMCA takedowns of any fan-work that includes its intellectual property, the company has really ramped things up lately. Recent actions include the takedown of a Mario fan game, a remake of a 25-year-old Metroid title, and engaging in all kinds of craziness over its Pokemon Go title. It was enough that one of Nintendo’s biggest rivals couldn’t help but take a subtle potshot at it, while simultaneously treating Sega fans like human beings.

Daniel Coyle, on Twitter as SuperSonic68, headed up a team of Sonic the Hedgehog fans in the development of a fan-made 3D Sonic game. Their work has been received rather well as of late, including on gaming blogs and YouTube channels. When one YouTube channel, GameGrumps, did a “let’s play” of the fan game, it appears that Sega noticed and reached out in the comments section with a poke at Nintendo’s aggressive nature and some encouragement.

This is the kind of thing we talk about a great deal around here: being human and awesome to your fans, while also understanding that not every use of your intellectual property is a threat. In fact, it can be a boon instead. This case is doubly so, with the fan-created work propelling more attention to the Sonic franchise as a whole by getting the brand into the gaming news bloodstream, while embracing fan creations builds up all kinds of goodwill towards Sega in general. This is how you do it.

Where Nintendo is in the news for treating its fans poorly, Sega makes news for treating them well, which will encourage other Sega fans to create more fan-works, which will keep Sega’s properties moving around the wider internet as a result.

Sega’s latest dunk on their litigious competition shows a massive difference in how fan content is approached and I think they’ve got it right. Games Green Hill Paradise Act 2 like generate interest in properties and encourage passionate engagement with their franchise. They’ve even brought fans in to work on projects. Christian Whitehead, a long time fan, is now a programmer on Sonic Mania.

This is how you build loyalty, instead of anger, amongst a fan-base.

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Companies: nintendo, sega

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Comments on “Sega Takes Potshots At DMCA-Happy Nintendo While Being Cool About Fan Games”

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Anonymous Coward says:

A quick note

The mobile ports of the first two Sonic the Hedgehog games and Sonic CD were helmed by Whitehead, who (re)built those games practically from the ground up using an engine he developed—and that his port of Sonic CD started out as a fan project that SEGA eventually picked up for an official release.

Of course, then there’s the situation with the Streets of Rage remake, which is the flip-side of SEGA’s position here. (Long story short: SEGA put the legal kibosh on that particular remake after its release.)

You can’t win ’em all. But winning some of ’em still goes a long way.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: A quick note

Yeah, Sega’s friendliness toward mods and fan-games is a pretty recent development. I remember that back in the 1990’s Sega reps made the laughable claim that Sega automatically owned Sonic fan fiction and any original characters created for same.

(Fill in your own joke here about how some Sonic fanfic and fan art are definitely not something most people want to be associated with.)

But the company seems to be moving in the right direction, and that’s laudable.

Christopher Best (profile) says:

Yeah, about that...

Except SEGA is pretty notorious for handing out really nasty, frivolous copyright strikes on several YouTube gaming channels who were covering SEGA games, and only removing the strikes from the larger channels after they were called out on it. Last I checked, nothing was done for other users. TotalBiscuit refuses to cover any SEGA games since then.

Oh hey, TD even covered this:

Anon E. Mous (profile) says:

Sega is smart about not being over bearing with fan videos and fan made game etc. Are the very fans Sega is doing nothing about hurting Sega’s brand or name, hell no!

This is one thing that Nintendo seems to be oblivious to. Nintendo wants to protect the brand and I get that but going after fan videos and games only hurts the fan base and damages Nintendo’s rep with those very same fans.

If Nintendo was smart they would pull a Sega and jump on the band wagon and instead of trying to squash every fan lil project via the DMCA, encourage it. Nintedo has to relaise that the fans are doing this our of fun and love for some of the Nintendo games that they have coded or made videos of.

I highjly doubt Nintendo is going to be injured or their reputation shattered by some of the fan creations, the only one damaging Nintendo’s reputation is their own draconian policies toward fan based collaborations and videos.

If anything the fan creation are putting Nintendo’s name out there and bribing like minded fans together to talk about past, present and what could be future Nintendo games, why Nintendo see’s that all as a threat is oblivious to a lot of folks out there

Thad (user link) says:

Re: This means as much

True, but there was probably a policy meeting in there somewhere. Sega’s recent tolerance and even encouragement of fan mods (eg on Steam) isn’t just some PR guy going off the reservation, it’s a decision handed down by management, and the legal team is following those orders.

Now, it is of course entirely possible that this policy will not be applied consistently, or that management could just plain change its mind, and fan devs, artists, etc. should definitely keep that in mind. But I don’t see this as a rogue tweet from a PR guy who’s disconnected from company policy, I see it as an officially-endorsed tweet from a PR guy who’s been advised of company policy.

(And, tangentially, I really don’t want this to turn into a whole thing, but I’m really not a fan of generalizing about certain dog breeds as vicious.)

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