A lot of recent fan-projects for Nintendo games have been seeing increased publicity through major gaming sites. This is good. These passionate fans work long and hard to produce something that they ultimately would like to play. If it weren’t for these sites I would’ve never known that a project I heard about years back was finally finished: Another Metroid 2 Remake (AM2R). That a fan’s pet project garnered so much attention shows how the world wanted what he was offering. Metroid 2 on the 3DS’s GameBoy VC has not aged well; it’s uncomfortable to play in relation to the more recent Metroid side-scrollers, and AM2R let me play and enjoy it a hell of a lot more than my attempt on 3DS.
But all improved things must come to an end.
Just as nice for gaming publications, they’ve been able to write follow up articles to garner clicks on the topic of these projects being taken down after receiving DMCA warnings from Nintendo. Now I’m not saying that there’s a massive conspiracy here, but I will argue that the attention these sites produced would’ve not only been beneficial for the creators of the content, major sites posting on the matter definitely played into alerting Nintendo. And it’s wrong to accuse these sites knowing that this would occur, meaning doubling their content and clicks, but maybe. Maybe.
It’s fair for Nintendo to protect their properties. I don’t resent them for issuing these, the creators of these projects should’ve known that Johnny-Law would’ve followed their projects soon enough. Nintendo have spent many years and a fortune creating their properties into the shapes they have today. It’s up to Nintendo to decide the fate of franchises, as disappointing and heartbreaking as it would be for the creators of the fan projects to be told not to distribute what they’ve put their blood, sweat and tears into. And as far as I’m aware, project like AM2R, Pokemon Uranium and No Mario’s Sky made essentially no profit. Perhaps the creator got some recognition in the wider community, but that’s about it.
The title-screen of the follow up to No Mario’s Sky
What I don’t understand is why Nintendo (and other companies) haven’t taken actions against ‘parody accounts’. While a few of these accounts provide original and humorous content, the seemingly vast majority just copy and paste other people’s tweets. A good piece on these types of articles by @Daniel_Switzer is available here: https://danielswitzer.net/2016/08/15/memes-miiverse-and-misery/
Let me take a quote from the piece:
I second following @KazHiraiCEO, whose tweets are original and very funny hottakes on the gaming community at large.
“BUH PARODY AIN’T ILLEGOS”. True, but these aren’t parodies. They’re just… thieves. There’s no other way to put it. The very little original content they provide isn’t normally intelligent or thought provoking, and they’re aggressive and generally uncivil. I understand that a lot of the content they steal is piggybacking on popular culture from existing IPs. But for the most part THOSE ARE parodies and satirical. If these accounts want to exist, they should at least have the decency to call themselves something like @L4ughs4d4yz. Make your own site. 9gag did it, and they profit off it too, without having to interact with people, how good is that!
For the purposes of this article let’s focus on the existence of @RealShigeruM, a ‘parody’ of legendary game designer and public face of Nintendo, Shigeru Miyamoto. Nintendo wants to protect its properties from people who make new experiences in their universes, even remastering stories that are dated for the tastes of modern audiences. But social media ‘parody’ accounts like these don’t do anything for Nintendo or Miyamoto’s brand. With almost 162K followers as of time of writing, I don’t see the appeal. Maybe it’s for those that want all the dankest memes in one convenient location? It’s unfair on those that created the pieces in the first place, who are almost always left uncredited. Twitter made this amazing little function called a ‘Retweet’, which when these types of accounts copy and paste (often without changing a thing) clearly aren’t aware of.
It’s all very complicated
I don’t see what Miyamoto has to do with stealing poorly compressed .jpgs and .gifs, unless it’s what he does in his spare time. In which case, why are you making a parody of part of Miyamoto’s life that no one knows? That’s silly, at least go after his boner for 2-dimensional plains. Or his casual racism towards Italian-Americans. It’s not hard.
Then there’s accounts like @NintendoAntarct who has been piggybacking off using Nintendo’s old display picture, and saying quite asinine shit talking that really does hurt Nintendo. While anyone with half a brain could pick up on the concept of a ‘Nintendo Antarctica’ existing as ludicrous this type of account is often something that trick people or at least makes them look twice. I’ve almost been fooled by accounts using ‘1’s instead of lowercase ‘L’s, or missing letters in the name. It’s not until I click and see a low follower number that I realise what I’m looking at.
To reiterate: These accounts are not parody. They’re not even satire. They’re just there, when no one needs them.
These are obviously separate from digital copyright, but it’s besmirching the names of popular figures, figures that arguably do more for your company than a lot of your IP. It would more than likely come down to the person being ‘parodied’ to take action, but Nintendo would be foolish to not put an end to these. They clearly care about protecting their image with their issuing of DMCA take-down notices on fan projects.
This should be a discussion on the protection of IP and images. It’s something that the online community is largely aware of, but do we really understand the intricacies? I will admit that I’m not formally trained in the area. I’m more than aware of Disney’s effect on the state of copyright; because that seems to be the stock-standard understanding that we should have on the matter. I wish I knew more on legal aspects and courses of action but it would all more than likely go straight over my head. But the way that these projects have been removed and the persistent existence of these ‘parody accounts’ does not sit well with me.
In an ideal world, I’d like for Nintendo to not issue any take-downs. But if they’re going after some, why not go after the ones that arguably hurt their brand more than a fan project?