Real Estate Developer Found Using Video Game Footage In Marketing Material… Which Is Pretty Cool!

from the just-real-enough dept

We’ve featured a number of stories here about entities attempting to pass off video game footage as something in real life. On the one hand, since these stories usually feature governments doing this in a pretty bald-faced attempt at trickery, and since these attempts at trickery typically have something to do with the realm of war, it’s easy to take a negative view of the whole thing entirely. On the other hand, it’s hard to escape the notion that our video games have gotten so realistic so as to be able to fool large swaths of people into thinking they are depictions of the real thing, which is pretty damned cool.

And, yet, even when the use of game footage is more innocuous, it still seems to get people’s fur up. In the UK, one housing developer was caught using a screenshot from Cities: Skylines, a city-building game, in its pitch material for a housing project.

The eight-page brochure, which was published by this newspaper earlier this week,outlines Norwich-based firm Lanpro’s vision for a town the size of Thetford, just off the A1067. Lifelong gamer, Matt Carding-Woods, recognised an image used on page three of the document as a screenshot from the 2015 city building game, Cities: Skylines, released by studio Colossal Order.

Lanpro defended the image’s use as educational, and said the document was only ever intended to be distributed internally.

A number of things apparently gave it away, including small patches of brown trees being rendered around garbage incinerators to represent pollution. While that’s actually quite funny, some residents and internet users criticized the developer for failing to note that the image was a screenshot from the game. Residents in particular seemed to indicate that the image’s use demonstrated the cavalier attitude the developer was taking the project as a whole.

But how does that make any sense? Developers typically include renderings of future projects in pitch material. Those renderings are usually created by graphical artists that specialize in that sort of thing. But if Cities:Skylines is simply good enough at depicting residential neighborhoods that one can create a rendering within the game and use that instead, how is that anything other than pretty neat? Now, in this case, it seems that Lanpro used a neighborhood created in the game by another player. But, again, so what? As Lanpro’s Chris Leeming notes, it’s not like this is the first time a developer has used images from the game to pitch a project.

“It is after the detailed technical work and analysis that we will be able to form a masterplan for the proposals and provide an image of what the scheme may look like.”

He added that there have been several examples of the “serious use of this software to model, engage and explain projects,” including by city planners working in Stockholm, Sweden.

And that makes sense. As games become better simulations and have increasingly convincing imagery, I would expect to see more of this rather than less.

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Companies: lanpro

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Comments on “Real Estate Developer Found Using Video Game Footage In Marketing Material… Which Is Pretty Cool!”

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Paul Brinker (profile) says:

Copyright and its got nothing to do with the Devlopment

I am fairly sure the issues people have is that the image was being passed off as part of the project while having nothing to do with it. The other issue was the lack of failing to at least tell people the image was from xyz.

Now if they had used the game to build the community I think most people would think its really cool.

Christenson says:

Re: Cue the moral panic!

I don’t think the fur is up over copyright, that’s too wonky, sorry.

The problem is ZOMG! This was a video game! What is the world coming to??

Even though, seriously, the difference between a good design simulation and a video game is that the video game is intended for interaction with an end user and may lock some things down, whereas a simulation typically emphasizes unlocking everything and is not intended for real-time interaction.

Anonymous Coward says:

Open Source

If there were a website or platform that hosted open source world building, we could have virtual versions of our cities crowdsourced from the community. People could edit it as easily as Wikipedia is manipulated today. Taking virtual images from such a source would be automatically allowed and encouraged.

It might have to wait and be hosted off earth though. Legal climates seem to be moving towards the protectionist models and away from the open ones.

tp (profile) says:


Usually when developing adverticements or other brochure which is used to attract customers, copyrights are significantly more important than in normal product development. Basically it accounts for lying if someone elses product is being used in the adverticing material.

It’s similar issue to lying about product pricing information. If the actual price is different from what the product actually costs, then it’s normally called “unfair competition”.

Same way, displaying someone elses product in the ad material is all about lying about the featureset of the product you can offer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Was the layout relatively accurate? Were the model home designs and floorplans accurate? Then I am perfectly fine with this as a marketing tactic.

When I was looking at my last home there were several new communities we looked at. All of them used similar computer-generated imagery to show us what the homes and neighborhood would look like. We, having purchased a home before, thought every single one was bullshit and ignored them knowing none will look even close to that in reality. As anyone buying a home in a new community should.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Pft. The proper way to play is to immediately get as many bonds as possible. Rack up those funds. Then overbuild on all zones. don’t bother building proper fire, police or schools in those zones. You won’t need them.
When your city falls into the red, unleash the disasters and start anew.

It is the true Florida development model.

Also “buddamus” or “imacheat” is so much better. 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Not about the game

I think you missed the point – the issue wasn’t that they used footage from a game, it was that they used someone else’s footage from a 2015 Reddit post.

Nobody would have batted an eye if they had used the game to actually model their project or generated their own footage. That would have been pretty cool. It’s only an issue because they were lazy and violated someone else’s IP.

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Re: Not about the game

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