Riot Shuts Down LoL Fan Server After Getting All Wiseguy With Its Developers

from the nice-project-you-have-there... dept

Way back in 2016, we discussed how Blizzard was very busy shutting down fan-made and hosted World of Warcraft servers, pretending like intellectual property forced it to do so. At the time, these fan servers were hosting WoW's vanilla experience, mimicking what the game looked like upon first release, rather than then current iteration of the ever-evolving MMORPG. While Blizzard has since come out with a vanilla experience product of its own, at the time, these fan servers were filling a market desire for a product that didn't exist. Rather than figuring out a way to work with these fans, Blizzard just shut them down.

And now it's all happening again with Riot, makers of League of Legends, an online game that similarly is ever-evolving. Fans of the game once more created a fan server that hosted the older, vanilla version of the game for those who wanted to play it that way. What makes this situation different, however, is that Riot only sent its C&D notice to the developers after the developers posted online an exchange they had with a Riot representative which took on a very 1920's wise guy tone.

Speaking with PC Gamer, Riot said that it has sent a cease-and-desist request to the developers of Chronoshift after one of them posted an exchange with a Riot employee to Reddit earlier this week. The post showed a back and forth over Discord, during which a member of Riot’s security department named Zed wrote to a Chronoshift developer that Riot’s legal team “isn’t super thrilled about your project unfortunately and is looking for a way to come to a mutually acceptable end to it.”

A few lines later, Zed took the conversation in a decidedly bizarre direction, claiming that their team had archives of chat channels the Chronoshift team tried to delete. Zed followed that by saying, “you’ve obviously put a lot of work into Chrono shift, but I assure you that the chrono break is coming.” When the Chronoshift developer asked Zed to dispense with the “scare tactics,” Zed demanded that the developers hand over Chronoshift’s website and source code to Riot, as well as “all identifiable information” they shared with a specific developer. Zed then made the stakes of the situation clear: “Give me what I’m looking for and we won’t sue,” they said. “Refuse and we will.”

Riot told PC Gamer that, while it didn't love the tone of its rep's interactions with the Chronoshift development team, still the request for code and information about the project was a "standard" request. That sort of thing happens so that the rightsholder can figure out exactly to what extent the project was infringing. But it's notable in this case again that Riot doesn't currently have a competing project of its own for this sort of vanilla LoL experience. Despite that, and despite the fact that the Chronoshift team never took a single dime in any way for this project, through donations or otherwise, Riot still shut the whole thing down and pretended intellectual property forced its hand.

In Riot’s letter to the developers, which leaked despite the developers’ apparent wishes, the company also noted that Zed’s grab at the game’s source code was “a standard demand made to all developers engaged in unauthorized activity in order to assist Riot’s security team to understand the precise nature of the project, the manner by which it infringes Riot’s intellectual property, and other rights, and the extent to which the code has been shared or disseminated online.” In other words, it does not appear that the company is planning to use the work of fan developers to form the backbone of its own legacy servers, despite fan speculation to the contrary.

In the letter, Riot further explained that it is compelled to defend its “valuable” intellectual property from conduct that “enables and encourages acts of copyright infringement,” which in turn “harm Riot, its business, and ultimately, its employees.” This is similar to what Blizzard said when it infamously shut down popular fan-run WoW server Nostalrius back in 2016. However, Blizzard has seemingly eased off fan-run servers like Elysium in the wake of WoW Classic’s release.

Similar and equally chock full of bullshit. There are plenty of ways Riot could have worked with these dedicated fans on their project to allow it both to come to fruition while also protecting its own rights. But Riot would have to want to have that kind of outlook and interaction.

Instead, it sure seems like Riot instead wants to apologize for its own rep's "Nice project you have there, be a shame if anything happened to it" tact. Certainly the rest of the League of Legends fandom should be sitting up and taking notice.

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Filed Under: chroneshift, fan servers, league of legends, takedowns, threats
Companies: riot games


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 May 2021 @ 7:49pm

    Mob tactics, stay classy Riot games

    In the letter, Riot further explained that it is compelled to defend its “valuable” intellectual property from conduct that “enables and encourages acts of copyright infringement,” which in turn “harm Riot, its business, and ultimately, its employees.

    Hey, speaking of harming the company how much 'harm' do you think your company suffered from a project run by fans that didn't compete with yours, versus the 'harm' that looking like legal thugs by issuing open threats just caused you? Because I'm pretty sure one of those is way worse for you, and it was not the fan project.

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

    • icon
      Tanner Andrews (profile), 4 May 2021 @ 2:15am

      Re: Mob tactics, stay classy Riot games

      versus the 'harm' that looking like legal thugs

      Do we really expect there to be any financial injury from the thuggery? No, it does not appear to enhance revenues, as Riot does not have a competing product, but at the same time I do not see Riot paying anything.

      The presumption is that their customers continue to be customers, and pretty much at the same rate unaffected by the thuggery. If we had evidence of customers staying away in droves attributable to thuggery, the result would be different.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 4 May 2021 @ 12:34pm

        'Sure they beat me and treat me like an idiot, but look, toy!'

        Sadly I expect you'll be correct, as modern customers including gamers seem to have staggeringly low standards and will accept being treated like utter garbage so long as the one treating them as such provides something shiny to look at.

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

  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 3 May 2021 @ 8:21pm

    Using employees as a scapegoat

    I bet some of their logically thinking employees would have liked to play Chronoshift.

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

  • icon
    GHB (profile), 4 May 2021 @ 2:43am

    Literal riot games

    their name sums it up.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 4 May 2021 @ 4:05am

    How dare you expose us behaving like assholes to the world, now we are going to sue you.

    We don't like how our guy did this, only in that he did it in a way where it could be recorded & shown to others making it impossible for us to pretend he never said that to you in the first place.

    We want your code not to figure out how much you are infringing, we want to steal your efforts to improve the code that we aren't willing to pay our own people to do.

    Fuck all of our fans, they can only play the game the way we want them to not as it once was & they found it fun.

    Why is our playerbase tanking?

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


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