Intellectual property is probably one of the most valuable assets available to human beings today, or at least you would think so given how rabidly people jump to defend and remove any violations or anything perceived as theft. Of course, this includes the dreaded fan game. Fans are some of the worst people in the world after all, and among their worst crimes is believing they somehow have the ability to create their own original works inspired by or as tribute to their beloved franchises. Such acts are appalling and what’s more illegal, and as we all know all laws are perfectly just and should be applied strictly and literally without any care for nuance or the spirit of said law. And there is no greater warrior to fight for the noble cause of protecting copyright than Nintendo. Actually Disney is probably the King of this particular realm, but Nintendo is certainly a fit and proper Queen.
Of all the major video game companies, Nintendo is by far the most protective of its assets. This week alone, Nintendo pulled a fan effort to archive old copies of the discontinued Nintendo Power magazine and two fan games. The first, Another Metroid 2 Remake, or AM2R, was a heartfelt remaster of Metroid II: Return of Samus, including improved AI and controls. The second, Pokemon Uranium, in production for nine years, was an original game styled after Nintendo’s popular Pokemon franchise and using some of Nintendo’s Pokemon along with several new creations. Both games were long awaited by the community and promptly pulled within 24 hours of their release. While Nintendo, clearly out of the goodness of their heart, has not taken action against the creators, they have sent cease and desists to multiple hosts of the games. And like common thieves both creators graciously accepted Nintendo’s decision and asked their fans to be kind as Nintendo was in their legal right.
Nintendo of course recognized the problem; while they had removed the primary source of hosting, the games themselves were still available and easy to access by anyone who knows of it, and of course many have the game downloaded already. In fact, many have used Nintendo’s property to flagrantly create hundreds of works of fan fiction, fan art, fan cosplay, and fan Bento Boxes. Among other far more degenerate things.
They have since introduced a new piece of technology that will be fitted on all their future releases. The new tech, called Memikesh, will be inserted into the end credit sequence of every future Nintendo game. Upon completing the game, players will be given a complex sequence of numbers and pictures that will trigger, along with subliminal objects from the actual game, in order to completely erase the experience of playing the game. Nintendo says this will ensure no player can ever mimic or create fan content of the game. They also point out the other benefits to the players themselves, saying this gives the games infinite replayability and may make it where you don’t notice Nintendo making the same Mario game every two years since Super Mario Galaxy.
Protecting intellectual property is a matter strictly of the law. Nintendo of America, the region responsible for these recent DMCA takedown, have continually stated that in order to protect their IPs, they must remain firm. This is simply a step in ensuring their legal rights are protected before anyone can dare break them. After all, the law is something we must always apply without exception or concern, particularly in the gray legal realms of copyright and free to enjoy fan tributes, where there are absolutely no other ways to deal with the situation. Yes, in the past, companies like Sega have taken a slightly different road by praising fan creation and even hiring talented creators who dedicated their heart to making fantastic content that pays tribute to (and advertises) the actual product. And yes, Nintendo of Japan’s Satoru Iwata had originally announced that certain derivative works would be protected in the future. But, this is clearly the better route. Fans may be angry now at Nintendo’s heavy handed approach to DMCA law, and at their removal of remakes and fan games that are often representations of what fans want (like maybe an actually good Metroid game), but they won’t be soon.
Because soon they just won’t remember it.