Nintendo Ended Up Creating A Competitor After DMCAing Fan-Game It Decided It Didn't Want To Make Itself
from the real-nice-guys dept
In the wake of the success of Nintendo's Mario Maker game, Nintendo fans almost immediately began clamoring for similar versions of other classic Nintendo properties. The obvious choice for the next franchise to get the treatment was the Zelda series, of course. The desire for a Zelda Maker title reached enough of a pitch that Game Informer asked Nintendo reps in 2015 about whether the company would be producing such a game.
If Super Mario Maker is a success, will it open the door for a comparable Zelda Maker?
Zelda Maker might be a challenge to make I think. Personally, making Super Mario Maker that was a challenge in itself, and we hope that it's a success, so thank you for saying that, but I think that might be a difficult task.
In other words, Zelda Maker would be too difficult to make, no matter the desires of Nintendo fans. Those comments, by the way, are from a producer and director of Mario Maker.
So, fine, Nintendo doesn't want to tackle the task of creating a game that its fans are screaming for. But this herculean task didn't pass by without someone taking it on. Justin Sink, who created games as a hobby, decided to give it a go.
So in 2015, Sink got to work within Game Maker to craft a design suite that anybody could use to make a Zelda game. Just like Mario Maker, you could place elements such as enemies and landscape sprites anywhere on the digital canvas. Sink released an early version of the tool as “Zelda Maker” online, Link included, and the game blew up. People wanted to play something like Zelda Maker, they loved the idea of it.
Because we're talking about Nintendo here, you already know where this is going next. The company sent DMCA notices for all of the videos showing off Sink's creation in action. Then it sent a DMCA notice to MediaFire, which Sink used to make his fan-made game available to the public. That was back in 2015. Nintendo likely thought that the assassination of a game it didn't want to make had been completed.
Not so much, as it turns out.
But Zelda Maker did not die in 2015, not entirely. Instead of shuttering the entire project, Sink decided to rebrand and expand on it to make it his own—that was the plan all along, he claimed. He set out to create his own engine suited for the purposes of easy level design, even if it meant scrapping some of the work he had already done. Beyond the expanded functionality, Sink also had to come up with a new aesthetic for the game that, while still inspired by Zelda, couldn’t be mistaken for it.
Despite those troubles, “Zelda Maker” was eventually reborn as “Legend Maker,” but that, in of itself, was not the product Sink wanted share with the world. Instead, Sink used Legend Maker to create a game of his own, Runiya, an action-RPG.
Sink has set up a Patreon page where people can support his efforts. Runiya comes packaged with Legend Maker, which pretty much everyone knows is actually Zelda Maker slightly modified. In other words, what started off as a single fan and hobbyist looking to prove to fans and Nintendo alike that a Zelda Maker game could indeed be made has now morphed into a competitor for Nintendo. Legend Maker isn't going to run afoul of the intellectual property of Nintendo any longer, yet it still exists, and Sink is now collecting money for his efforts. Meanwhile, if Nintendo does want to try giving Zelda Maker a go, someone basically already was first to market with that kind of product. The company didn't listen to its fans, so another fan did. And the bullying didn't really stop the project, it just made sure that the project -- that, again, Nintendo didn't want to do itself -- no longer gets the brand recognition of having Zelda attached to it.
Nintendo has long been amongst the masters at pissing off its fans, but turning them into competitors is a bold new step for the company.