Former Pokémon Co. Lawyer: Media Hype Killing Fan-Made Games

Fan-made video games have gained a lot of popularity and attention online over the past two decades. However, this publicity sometimes acts as a curse rather than a blessing, as it puts these projects onto the radar of the original game’s creators. The former General Counsel of The Pokemon Company, Don McGowan, reveals that the company often learns about these ‘unofficial’ projects through news articles or links shared within the company. This piece uncovers why fan-made games often end up getting shut down and the delicate balance between fandom and legal implications.

The Discovery of Fan-Made Games

According to McGowan, he often found out about fan-made Pokemon games because of reports and articles published by various media outlets. He even goes as far as saying that the worst scenario for a fan project is when it gets press attention, attracting the attention of the original game’s creators. However, this revelation isn’t particularly surprising to seasoned fans, who have been speculating about this for years.

The Cause Behind Fan-Made Games Shutdown

While media coverage might bring fan projects under the radar, McGowan emphasized that attention alone doesn’t drive a takedown notice. In fact, the trigger for sending a takedown notice is often when these fan developers start to monetize their projects through platforms like Kickstarter. According to McGowan, no one enjoys suing fans, but when finances get involved, the situation becomes legally complex.

Gaming Companies Stance on Fan-Made Games

Interestingly, McGowan’s stance on fan funding seems to align with that of Sega when it comes to fan games. In 2021, Sonic the Hedgehog’s Social Media Manager, Katie Chrzanowski, revealed that Sega doesn’t have a problem with fan-made Sonic games unless they start to generate profits. Once money enters the picture, projects stand on legally unstable ground, dramatically increasing the chances of receiving a takedown notice.

Regardless of the controversies, fan games hold a special place within the gaming industry. Often, they serve as stepping stones for aspiring developers to showcase their creativity and skills. A noteworthy example is Christian Whitehead, who began his journey by developing Sonic fan games and later got an opportunity to work on Sega’s Sonic Mania, deemed one of the best Sonic games ever.

Wrapping Up

Despite the increasing popularity of fan-made games, developers must tread carefully when it comes to profiting from these projects. Monetary involvement can complicate matters legally and may even bring down a project. What are your views on fan-made games? Share your thoughts on the matter by heading over to HitPlay. And remember, it’s a fine line between being a fan and infringing copyright laws!

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