There’s a wave of excitement in the Flash game dev community, as a small band of respectable developers speak out against the villains in their industry, and slowly begin to turn the tide against negative public opinion surrounding Flash game development.
This week saw the removal of a post on monetizing Flash games by Russian developer Vadim Starygin (AKA Badim), whose tips included using a spritesheet of Mega Man or Legend of Zelda character animations for use in your own game, or producing an unauthorized sequel to some other developer’s game.
i shit you negative.
Stealing is only cute when these guys do it.
Due to pressure from many members of the community, who disagreed with MochiMedia’s stance that they were just airing alternative viewpoints (no – they were tacitly endorsing copyright infringement), Team Mochi decided to axe the article. Badim continues to earn advertising revenue on sites like Nonoba.com with his game Elite Forces: Clone Wars and its sequel:
The background behind the game is a stolen image of characters from the Star Wars property. The logo Badim uses in the game is the almost completely unmodified Star Wars: Clone Wars logo, which i reproduce here purely for the purposes of review and comparison:
Copyright George Lucas Enterprises 1977-2087 inclusive all rights reserved void where prohibited please don’t sue Amen.
So while MochiMedia showed good faith by removing the post, we still have a Nonoba problem.
The Nonoba Problem
i know it must be next-to-impossible to police every single game on your distribution system. And while this is hardly a subtle infringement, i emailed Nonoba to let them know what was up. That was a few days ago – no word. i’m not sure a company would even respond if the complainant was not the original IP owner. Should they?
Apparently a buck’s a buck to Nonoba. And if not, i’ll call them out publicly right here: Nonoba, please honour the well-lit corners of the Flash community by following these steps:
- Remove Badim’s copyright-infringing games from your service.
- Reclaim any and all moneys paid to Badim for those games.
- Cut a cheque with your portion and Badim’s portion to LucasArts and mail to:
LucasArts, a division of Lucasfilm Ltd.
Attention: Legal Department
P.O. Box 29908
San Francisco, CA 94129
Or call Yoda’s Help Desk. That dude is hilarious when he talks tech.
Check your video card manufacturer’s site for the latest driver updates you must.
And while we’re on a roll, what’s up with GamerSafe featuring Badim in their latest newsletter last week? Regarding Badim’s post on MochiLand, the GamerSafe guys said “hey – leave us out of it!” on Twitter while this whole thing went down, claiming that they don’t knowingly support games that have copyright-infringing material in them. i explained that allying their service with devs like Badim invited a negative association that their company could do without. He may not perform a ritual killing on-camera, but nevertheless, you still don’t invite Charles Manson to guest-host the Oprah show.
Everybody gets a caaar! (and a swaaaastika on their foreheads!)
Why Not Just Let it Slide?
So what’s the big deal? Devs who steal stuff aren’t hurting anyone. If IP owners like LucasArts cared enough, they would ask for the games to be removed themselves. We don’t need anyone policing our industry.
Here’s the issue in a nutshell: i make no bones about the fact that i want to make money from my own original games. The game creation tool i know best is Flash. The Flash game dev community is packed with young hobbyist boys who don’t see too much of a problem with yanking assets and code from wherever to create their own games and make a quick buck through ad revenue sharing.
As a result, the Flash platform is synonymous with low-quality, piratey IP rip-off games, and badly-animated 2D pornography. Many of the people who play the games are the people who create the games. Those people don’t have credit cards. The people who do have credit cards – the people whose money i want to have – are more likely to spend their cash on a more reputable segment of the entertainment spectrum. But Flash is always good for a laugh – as long as it’s free.
A quick trip to the Newgrounds front page today turns up an unauthorized Pac Man sequel, a fat anime collaboration promising larger breasts, two Legend of Zelda rip-offs, and something called “Dick Neck”. Wait right there – let me run and get my credit card.
My plan: to encourage the more professionally-minded Flash game devs to make a bigger noise than the hobbyists – to set the tone for the industry that the young among us strive to emulate. i’d like to see some semblance of mentorship in our industry. i’d like to see the more mature developers modelling behaviour that the younger devs aspire to.
And once we’re all resolved to improving our entertainment offering, we may change the attitudes of the customers we want to attract. When we change those attitudes, our audience expands to include players with both money and taste.
Money and taste: two things the free-to-play Flash game industry could benefit from.