The Daily Grind: How do you feel about IP-knockoff MMOs?

I have to admit to being a little on the fence about the whole Legends of Equestria project. On one hand, it looks like a spot-on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic production sans the name, and I admire fans who see a need going unfulfilled and go to such lengths to do what the IP owners do not.

On the other hand, I have a slight allergy to knock-offs (I never liked getting Go-Bots in the 1980s when Transformers were available) and it concerns me that all this work might be squashed if the IP owner decides to raise a legal fuss about it. I guess I would much rather have official products rather than fanfiction-made-MMOs, but sometimes you don’t have the luxury of that choice.

How do you feel about IP-knockoff MMO projects? Are they worth pursuing and playing, or should it be “official or bust?”

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Bol Daer

When I was still a kid, I too thought that anything that isn’t the ‘official’ one is the bad one. Nowadays I realize it doesn’t matter which is the ‘official’ one and which isn’t. It all comes down to who makes the best product and provides the best user experience. If someone else can provide a better user experience than you do, then you can provide a better user experience than you do. IPs, and also copyrights and patents in general, are just constructs that allow you to deprive the universe of creativity, and also to get lazy and not care about what you actually produce.

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Leiloni

I think obvious knockoffs are cheap and dishonest so I can’t stand them. But if a game is inspired by other games, well that’s normal and can often be a good thing when a game takes aspects from a game we liked and puts it into something new and different. But blatant knockoffs I hate.

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Jack Pipsam

If the IP holders aren’t willing/interested to do a specific kind of project with their property or nobody else with means if acquiring a licence is interested in creating a project then I am all for fans to give it a crack.

Of course fan games are always made under the risk of one day getting hit by a legal order by the IP owners, that’s a risk and something fan games have been dealing with since the start. But should that mean they shouldn’t try? I don’t think so if they’re fully aware that they might need to suddenly stop if requested to do so by the I.P Holder.

Projects like Legends of Equestria are labours of love. A non-profit indie MMO built ground up in Unity with running servers, decently sized player base been developed by a range of volunteers across the globe is nothing to scoff at. Sure they have to change all the names about, sure they’re always under a risk of closure.

But as Warhammer Online, Star Wars Galaxies and Matrix Online proved, even being officially licensed doesn’t guarantee long-term safety when it comes to the issue of IP.

I don’t count fan games like this as stealing, the project is too earnest and full of love to be simply stealing. They aren’t stealing assets and throwing up a jank thing on Steam or the App store to make a quick buck, this is different.

Is it a knock-off? Sure, by design it is. Is it jank? Totally, but so are most imports.
It is what it is and it’s just a testament to fan power that the dream project so many fandom’s always wish up on forums actually got made.

Yes ultimately no matter what names they change, they ARE at the mercy of Hasbro. Hasbro needs to be acknowledged and importantly respected in this instance as the holder of the keys and if they desire/require it, then LoE would need to be snuffed out as sad as it may be, that’s simply the harsh but known reality of creating fan projects.
But Hasbro has shown a certain lenience over time, yes some things like Fighting is Magic got hit, but then this is still up and keep in mind this has been in development for a few solid years so I highly doubt Hasbro doesn’t know it exists, I am sure they know, but they just haven’t done anything yet and I reckon they would have done something earlier like they did to the other MLP MMO in development.

I won’t pretend to understand the logic if what Hasbro allows and what they don’t as it can seem innocent enough stuff might get hit while some rather violent stuff is all cool. It might be they allow fan projects to run along until a moment where they cross a legal line (in Fighting is Magic’s instance it was when they got invited to EVO to show off the game, that was the legal line which got crossed). While for as long as Fallout Equestria stays firmly in the realm of fan characters they might not care as much (even Bethesda knows about that and lets it slide).

But sooner or later with a whole generation of fan artists, writers ect who grew up sharing their fan creations online which I am part of I think a solid legal stance will come out one way or the other with some case somewhere.
No doubt it would be someone like Disney or WB who’d trigger it. I think Hasbro is happy to let things slide for as long as they don’t get impacted or threatened by it.

But hey, it’s all up to the copyright gods in suits.

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Schmidt.Capela

AFAIK, Fighting is Magic crossed two lines.

First, associating the MLP franchise with violence. This seems to be a big no-no in Hasbro’s books.

Second, as you said, becoming widely known. Hasbro can ignore obscure fan-created content even if it’s completely against the desired image of the franchise (such as clop), but anything that becomes widespread is subjected to much closer scrutiny.

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Jack Pipsam

Perhaps, although there’s been other violent projects still about.

Heck Fighting is Magic on the violence scale is pretty tame compared to some of the stuff out there made by fans (and ironically I would only put it a notch above some fight scenes in the show itself).

I mean the Tirek fight while not violent-violent, was I would put on a comparable level to the level you’d see in say the Pokemon anime.

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Ben Pielstick

Simply stealing IP is one thing, but it is always a little sad when the fans want something that the IP holder refuses to provide. When fans go to the lengths to create what they want themselves against the IP holder’s wishes it can be hard to pick sides. I think the best solution for everyone involved in these cases, would be for fans to take inspiration from the IP they love, and create something of their own that captures the core essence of what they enjoyed, while making enough changes to actually be something new and different and not infringe on the original IP.

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MurderHobo

I recognize the value in having limited protection for creators, but I reject any ideology that equates the reuse of ideas with theft, and despise the current draconian system that allows the likes of Disney to claim ownership of the works of dead authors/creators.

There must be a healthy public domain, and we shouldn’t have to wait 70+ years for an idea to be free game.

That said, most knock-offs are garbage.

capt_north
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capt_north

If all you’re going to do is rip-off somebody else’s work and claim “parody” or some other legal loophole… you may have a future in porn.

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Schmidt.Capela

Ever heard of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which parodies everything from the Ninja fad to Daredevil)? Monty Python?Weird Al? The League of Extraordinary Gentleman? Heck, Indiana Jones and James Bond, two of the most parodied characters ever, are themselves parodies.

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starbuck1771

Correct because Ninja’s & Daredevil are actually Free Domain. As for the Parodies it falls under the Fair Usage principal. http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/

capt_north
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capt_north

Oh, I have no beef against legitimate parody. But parody has specific criteria that set it apart from simple imitation. Imitation without those elements is not afforded nor deserving of fair use protection, no matter how many times the word “parody” is printed on the cover.

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Melissa McDonald

I’m definitely not a fan of ripoffs. They generally lack imagination and only wallow in the greater idea that inspired it. I’m not a fanfic reader either. I think it has something to do with my time struggling to be a professional musician, I got keen opinions on copyright, stealing, infringement, file sharing, compensation for the artist, etc.

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Adri

If you only wanted the original games you could only play table top games ;)
So every game is more or less a knock-off (*looking at the WoW clone games*). To be honest: I don’t care if the game is a knock-off or not. As long as I enjoy it I play the game.

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A Dad Supreme

“So every game is more or less a knock-off (*looking at the WoW clone games*).”
=========
The WoW clones are more likely to be clones of a style of gameplay, not necessarily a copy of an IP. I believe that’s a major difference from a clone in itself.

The difference is how a game looks and feels lore/appearance wise, rather than how it plays.

No one would ever confuse SWTOR of being a WoW IP clone, but it’s called a “WoW clone” all the time because of it’s questhub/raiding style of play.

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A Dad Supreme

“How do you feel about IP-knockoff MMO projects? Are they worth pursuing and playing, or should it be “official or bust?””
==========
Sometimes a knockoff can be much better than the original.

If you take every official Warhammer IP’d videogame and combined the best of everything they did into one game, they still wouldn’t equal the success or popularity of it’s knockoff…

World of Warcraft.

edit: Also, Deadpool > Deathstroke as a knockoff.

https://www.polygon.com/comics/2016/1/28/10860668/deadpool-deathstroke-deadshot

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Schmidt.Capela

It’s common, even. We just tend to forget the less-successful original. Or does anyone think Harry Potter was the first story about a wizard school in a castle, Star Trek the first series about a starship crew boldly going where no man has gone before, X-Men the first comic about a superhero team with a paraplegic mentor, and so on?

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Pepperzine

If you’re not directly using their intellectual property, I say go for it! Maybe it’ll show the actual IP that the demand for a game using their property is in demand and they’ll create their own game.