Indie Dev's Free Superman Demo Stolen And Sold On Steam

Published: November 14, 2022 8:58 AM /


A Superman-like figure flying through a city in TJ Atomica's indie demo, which was stolen by scammers

An indie developer has had his short Unreal Engine 5 demo project stolen by scammers. The project, which is still available on for free, is titled A Superman-Style Flight Experience, but it's been stolen by a studio calling itself "Hero Game Studios" and is available for sale on Steam under that name as well.

This originally started on November 2nd, when developer Tyson Butler-Boschma, tweeting as TJATOMICA, called out the Steam scammers for selling his demo on Steam. Butler-Boschma was then banned from the game's hub on Steam for "hate speech", which presumably consisted of him telling the world that Hero Game Studios had stolen his game.

Earlier today, Butler-Boschma tweeted that Hero Game Studios has now begun copyright striking him on YouTube, filing copyright claims against the videos he has of the project on his channel. The copyright claim simply reads "hello, we, as hero game studios, want this game that belongs to us to be deleted from this video". 

A Superman-style figure flying across a city in TJATOMICA's Superman demo, which was stolen by Hero Game Studios
You'll see this game on Steam as Heroes City Superman Edition, but don't fall for it.

Hero Game Studios' brazen, obvious ripoff of Butler-Boschma's work is still up right now on Steam. It'll cost you $10.99, which is pretty egregious given that the exact same project is also available on Butler-Boschma's page for the low, low price of free. It's incredibly obvious that Butler-Boschma's version of the project came first; there are comments on the page dating back several months, while Hero Game Studios' version of the game was only uploaded to Steam at the start of November.

Copyright strikes are becoming increasingly problematic for creators and other professionals, as they're often misused or abused. Rather than simply existing to stop people abusing copyright law, strikes can be used by unscrupulous developers, as in Butler-Boschma's case, or deployed by overzealous companies. For instance, earlier this year, Rockstar issued copyright strikes against videos uploaded by one of the original developers behind Grand Theft Auto, who was showcasing a prototype for the game. 

This example, however, seems particularly egregious. In case you need definitive proof that Hero Game Studios' project is stolen, you can see Butler-Boschma's review on the Steam page for the game right here, where he outlines the ways in which his demo and Heroes City Superman Edition are identical. He does mention that he used Unreal marketplace assets to assemble his demo and that he originally gave Hero Game Studios the benefit of the doubt, thinking they must have done the same. However, the similarities became too overt to ignore.

The Superman-esque main character running towards the camera in TJATOMICA's free Superman demo, which has been stolen by Hero Game Studios
Want to play this Unreal Engine 5 Superman-style demo? Don't buy it on Steam.

These include character apparel choices, in-depth cape physics, and even a message at the start of the game from Butler-Boschma himself that was carelessly left in the Hero Game Studios "version". For what it's worth, Hero Game Studios has responded to Butler-Boschma's review, claiming he's a former member of the team (despite not using his real name) and recommending readers don't pay attention to what he says.

Butler-Boschma himself doesn't seem particularly optimistic that things will be resolved for him. He says that he's filed a DMCA claim with Steam, but that Valve has yet to do anything about that claim. Butler-Boschma says he's at a "complete loss" regarding Steam's inaction, and believes "the same will happen" when it comes to YouTube. As pointed out by YouTube itself on Twitter, Butler-Boschma has only three options: wait for the claim to expire (and do a copyright course), acquire a retraction, or counter the claim.

According to Butler-Boschma, he can't afford legal representation, so it sounds like his best bet is to rely on getting the word out and hoping that Hero Game Studios is shamed into taking its project down. Of course, there's another possibility here: Hero Game Studios' Steam game could be hit with a copyright strike by Warner Bros.

Since Butler-Boschma's demo is clearly "inspired" by Superman. If a demo like that is available for free, IP holders can sometimes overlook any copyright issues, but when the game is being sold for money, it becomes Warner Bros' problem. This also adds a delicious layer of extra hypocrisy to Hero Game Studios' brazen theft.

That kind of scorched-earth approach could have a negative knock-on effect on Butler-Boschma's creation, so hopefully, Hero Game Studios sees the error of its ways sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen, by the looks of the studio's attitude thus far. We've reached out to Valve for comment on this story.


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