Culture

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
dmca, fan games, sonic the hedgehog

Companies:
nintendo, sega



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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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2016 @ 4:31pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 14 Sep 2016 @ 4:41pm

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Christopher Best (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 4:36pm

    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:
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130323/16493322431/sega-offers-half-hearted-non-apology-mas sive-youtube-takedown-promises-not-to-do-it-again-with-caveats.shtml

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      CK20XX (profile), 15 Sep 2016 @ 5:51am

      Re: Yeah, about that...

      I believe that was due to a rogue producer that Sega managed to stuff back into his box.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 15 Sep 2016 @ 10:31am

      Re: Yeah, about that...

      It's a fair point, but it's also three and a half years old. It's reasonable to be wary about what Sega's done in the past and may do in the future, but it's also reasonable to suggest that the company's recent behavior represents a positive trend, not simply a one-off event.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Christopher Best (profile), 15 Sep 2016 @ 4:43pm

        Re: Re: Yeah, about that...

        Funnily enough, copyright strikes don't age out. If they actually go back and get all them removed I'm willing to give them a chance, but until then no dice.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 14 Sep 2016 @ 4:41pm

    They May Be Fan-Friendly Today ...

    ... and go completely feral tomorrow ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shmerl, 14 Sep 2016 @ 5:40pm

    Surprising Nintendo didn't nuke this meme

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cx3a0bos8aY

    It uses music from Kirby games (Gourmet Race). May be usage of the character from Sonic (Robotnik, aka Pingas) played a positive role ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2016 @ 7:24pm

    Give it two weeks and you'll be posting Sega has nuked some fangames as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 14 Sep 2016 @ 9:39pm

    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

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 14 Sep 2016 @ 9:52pm

      Re: Nintendo wants to protect the brand

      Someone should say to these companies who are so insistent that they need to “protect” their “intellectual property”:

      “Protect” ... you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2016 @ 10:33pm

    That's because Sega got this out fo their system about eight years ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 15 Sep 2016 @ 12:20am

    This means as much

    as the kennel neighbor of a rabid Rottweiler giving you a tail wag. Obviously that tweet was not made by the legal department. You still open that door at your own peril.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 15 Sep 2016 @ 10:39am

      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.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    scatman, 15 Sep 2016 @ 5:33am

    homebrew games would help

    If Nintendo allowed 'Nintendo Approved' homebrewed games on the NX...this would be awesome. Imagine being able to play all of the high quality Metroid and Mario remakes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Darkhog, 15 Sep 2016 @ 8:04am

    This is very old and worn out...

    ...but since nobody said it here yet, I'll do that.

    SEGA does what Nintendon't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Colin Somewhat, 19 Oct 2016 @ 11:54pm

    comment

    This is why sega absolutely rules

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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