We return to the bizarre and spiraling story of Magic to Master, an old Korean MMORPG brought to Kickstarter by Hungarian studio Laniatus. We’re not going to do a full recap today because we just did one yesterday, but this is the game studio that deployed fake testimonial reviews on KS (including one from us), insisted NFT stands for “necessary features tree,” claimed a “budget of more than 10 million euros,” told gamers it owned HeroEngine’s Idea Fabrik, picked a fight with former The Repopulation contractors, issued a false DMCA takedown against a YouTuber, threatened legal action against journalists in a fake IndieDB article, wiped huge swaths of bluster from Discord, and bragged about a legal battle with Gameforge, which Laniatus admitted had been pursuing M2M over the belief that the game is just GF’s Metin2 in a trenchcoat.
It’s been exhausting, and all for a late aughts MMO that wasn’t even going to fund a $26,000 Kickstarter.
Well, it’s really not funding that Kickstarter now, as overnight, the Kickstarter was apparently removed outright pending a DMCA takedown from Gameforge. We know this because Kickstarter kindly published the copyright claim from Gameforge 4D GmbH to confirm it. The filing also accuses some Laniatus team members of being former Gameforge affiliates who are already being targeted with legal action. (Forgive their typos; Gameforge is a German company. Kickstarter redacted the name of the specific filer here, but we’re assuming that if Kickstarter thinks the takedown was legitimately issued by Gameforge, it probably was.)
“Gameforge own’s the exclusive copyright on METIN2, it’s audiovisual content and related publishing- and marketingrights on the product. We do not allow sub-licensing to any 3rd party. […] The infringing content uses stolen parts of the Metin2 game engine and pretends them to bei their own product. Members of their team have been associated with Gameforge in the past, legal actions against these persons are already on their way. We – Gameforge – are not related to this infringement nor accept illegal activities associated with it.”
There hasn’t been much chatter out of the Laniatus team on Discord since, and we notice even more has been deleted from the HeroEngine Discord since yesterday. And there’s another flowery multi-paragraph apology on Steam (they have to be using ChatGPT to write these, right? They sent me several and they all looked like this). There’s nothing specific in the 400-word note, but it does refer to “a number of legal issues.”
“We acknowledge that there have been a number of legal issues and incidents within our company that have led to erroneous statements and actions. We want to assure you that these incidents do not reflect the values or intentions of our company. We are actively working to resolve these internal matters and rectify the situation. Our team is dedicated to addressing the legal issues at hand and taking appropriate measures to prevent any future occurrences. We understand the impact this may have had on your trust and confidence in us, and we are committed to earning that trust back.”
Starting to look like game over now.
Recapping the whole saga:
Additionally, while we’ve seen reporting on another site claiming that Gameforge has lodged a lawsuit, we haven’t seen any actual evidence of that yet.
Laniatus, of course, also issued an apology for all of that.
Further, he’s got a clip of Laniatus’ Tayfun Cicek admitting that his company’s “first game was a replica server called Metin2Mester” but “Gameforge sued and [the group] paid 600000 dollars” and then “recreated m2m with hero engine.” And Upton wonders something we’ve been wondering for a while: whether Cicek is running all of the principals’ accounts involved here.
Cheers to Upton for cutting through all this BS. We’ve also been the subject of abusive takedowns from scam and scam-adjacent game companies, and defending against it in the current social media climate is a nuisance and a nightmare. (Thanks, Al, for pointing out the video to us!)