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Games Your Rights Online

Games Workshop Goes After Fan Site 174

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-anger-your-base dept.
mark.leaman writes "BoingBoing has a recent post regarding Games Workshop's aggressive posturing against fan sites featuring derivative work of their game products. 'Game publisher and miniature manufacturer Games Workshop just sent a cease and desist letter to boardgamegeek.com, telling them to remove all fan-made players' aids. This includes scenarios, rules summaries, inventory manifests, scans to help replace worn pieces — many of these created for long out of print, well-loved games...' As a lifelong hobby gamer of table, board, card and miniature games, I view this as pure heresy. It made me reject the idea of buying any Games Workshop (read Warhammer) products for my son this Christmas. Their fate was sealed, in terms of my wallet, after I Googled their shenanigans. In 2007 they forbid Warhammer fan films, this year they shut down Vassal Modules, and a while back they went after retailers as well. What ever happened to fair use?"
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Games Workshop Goes After Fan Site

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  • Re:Talk about Idiots (Score:5, Informative)

    by Asmor (775910) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:33AM (#30280910) Homepage

    They don't just give the fans freedom, they very actively encourage fans to use their IP (not for profit, of course). They hold regular contests for Warcraft comic strips, feature fan art on the website which ranges from decent amateur to professional quality, they encourage machinima, and of course they're always giving out loads of references to the community. For example, there's a gnome named Breanni in Dalaran who runs a pet store, and she's a direct reference to the founder and maintainer of warcraftpets.com.

    And who can forget their response to the complaints that early Diablo 3 screenshots didn't look dark and gritty enough [destructoid.com]?

  • GW (Score:4, Informative)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:17AM (#30281194) Journal

    GW have become the biggest problem in Wargaming, their game systems are terrible and their approach to making profits is "Jack up prices to make up for less customers". They keep releasing new editions which dumb the rules down and then they release army rulebooks where there is no balance (in Fantasy there are 3 tier 1 armies, you play 1 or you lose to them, in a game of 15 factions or so), but little kids buy into GW as the gateway drug. They are only just starting to release nice models, but you need so many of them it becomes insanely expensive to build any sort of real army.

    If you're a wargamer and wish to play a good game and support a good company then get into Warmachine/Hordes. It's a more mature game with better quality miniatures, with balanced rules and a company that supports it's fans. Privateer press are updating to a MKII version for January, in doing so they have released the rules for every model and the main rulebook for MKII for free on PDF. They also consider fan feedback in balancing things, they are currently running a fieldtest for the beta rules for Hordes MKII, fans get to play the game and they can give feedback on how to buff/nerf a model if they wish. PP take this into consideration and did fix issues with Warmachine MKII models.

    Privateer also support their game systems. They started out making D20 books but moved onto Wargaming (and now boardgames) and intend to return to the roleplaying side of things where possible, but in their bi-monthly Magazine you will always find 5 pages dedicated to a new scenario for the roleplaying, as well as about 10 pages of solid fluff for the Iron Kingdoms, some examples are alchemist guilds famous through out the land to how humans discovered magic and the secret society that grew up from that. To supplement this, their roleplaying books are now out of print, so they have put them up as PDFs for people to download from several E book sites.

    Privateer press are not perfect and maybe in the future they will become the new GW, but as a wargamer I am happy to support a company that tries to support the community around it. One example that sticks out in my mind is there was a new faction released recently, on the forums people were discussing what their robots were made out of, no one was quite sure and one guy requested some official word. 20 minutes later the lead writer had posted with at least an A4 page's worth of text explaining every possible detail you could wish on the subject. PP isn't a small company and yet it's staff members still do things like this and get "into the trenches" with the fans.

    Disclaimer : I play PP games, I don't work for them in any way. I dislike GW because I see what a mess they make and yet they keep selling people their personal brand of crack, which restricts the wargaming industry and does more harm than good in general.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:24AM (#30281228)

    Might as well mention the fan-made video game Space Hulk ... former Space Hulk that is. After getting threatened by GW and stalled for a long time they apparently pulled a Blizzard and rebranded the game with their own scenario.

    It's called Alien Assault now: http://teardown.se/ No more free PR for Games Workshop I guess. Instead, lots of negative publicity all around gaming sites :D

  • by slim (1652) <john@ha[ ]up.net ['rtn' in gap]> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:42AM (#30281588) Homepage

    I'm reliably informed by the colleague sitting next to me, that there are "loads" of free wargame and RPG rules out there.

    I Googled, and he's right. Sample hit: http://www.miniaturewargaming.com/index.php/mwg/category/Rules%20Universal/ [miniaturewargaming.com]

    Do we have the technology for Open Source miniatures to work? It's certainly easy enough to make a lossy reproduction of a suitably designed miniature, by making a mould and melting some lead. 3D printing could become mainstream soonish. It just needs enough people to be interested.

  • Re:Space Hulk (Score:3, Informative)

    by LDoggg_ (659725) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:56AM (#30281678) Homepage
    You're wrong.

    It went from #7 to #170 in 3 days following the cease and desist. It had nothing to do with availability and everything to do with the reaction to Game Workshop's actions.
  • by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:19AM (#30281812)

    Games Workshop is a British company.

  • Re:GW (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:25AM (#30281842)

    They keep releasing new editions which dumb the rules down

    I keep hearing this, but I got into 40K on the second edition (first if you don't count Rogue Trader) and it was an unplayable mess if you went in with more than a dozen miniatures and two players. It was a great skirmish game as Necromunda showed but it was an utter dog in the large-scale games it was originally designed for. Dumbing down the rules to allow actual strategic play instead of 2 hours of dice rolling per turn was essential. That was accompanied by a shift towards good, cheap, plastic miniatures for army-building (likewise in Fantasy Battle), which hugely improved the ability to actually build an army. I got out shortly afterwards, but from what I can see, GW's games are cheaper and more playable than they've ever been. That's not to say that they're cheap, or playable, but they're a sight better than they were in my day.

  • by sapphire wyvern (1153271) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:40AM (#30281924)

    You're thinking of Wizards of the Coast, publishers of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering.

  • Re:GW (Score:3, Informative)

    by nosferatu1001 (264446) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:12AM (#30282680)

    Huh?

    GW keep wargaming alive, as they bring in new players. Hence the term "Gateway drug" - PP would die a death as it tends to attract people who already play WG. THey also have the money to invest and actually innovate - like the washes, foundation paints, full 3D rendering and production of HIGH cost plastic moulds (you say they are "cheaper plastics" - only once you have paid for the mould, at £30k per avg sprue, £90k for the Baneblade sprues. Still think theyre cheap? Or you still talking out of your arse?) - that PP et al cannot hope to match. Never mind the gaming boards, spray paint that actually undercoats without losing detail (noticed how the non-GW has changed recently? GW have licensed this out...) and without streaking / bobbling, and the other innovations. they don't do everhything perfectly (seriously, vac formed blast scapes? Thats worthy of a lesser company, they moved from vac form crap years ago for everything else) - least of which is writing a tight set of rules witihni every army book. However they stilld o far more good for the community?

    "Keep releasing new editions" - once every 6 years? Care to supply how many Warmachine versions there have been in the last 5 years, and how many reprints? Oh wait, that would undermine your point! PP is also 1/3rd owned by GW....

    They have also stated they write *1* FAQ to avoid the horrible mess you had in the past. But again, you dont know that, or choose not to mention this as it undermines your point. Again.

    40k 5th ed is a vastly more tactical game than warmachine or 4th ed 40k, yet you won't know this. You jsut claim, without proof, that the game has been dumbed down - yet I was 12 when I picked up 2nd ed, and 12year olds pick up 5th ed now. The exact same market has been targetted for the last 20years, ever since retail opened - or are you too /. ignorant to understand that?

    Disclaimer - I don't work for GW, my bd used to and left because, sadly, the people side of GW is run atrociously. However the quality of the miniatures has never been higher (waiting for Blancheites to counter, to which the counter is look at new skaven, theyre modelled off original artowrk...) and the actual products they sell are very high quality.

  • by navygeek (1044768) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:33AM (#30282880)
    That whooshing sound you hear is the sarcasm of his post over your head...miles and miles over your head.
  • Re:Space Hulk (Score:3, Informative)

    by LDoggg_ (659725) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @11:04AM (#30283350) Homepage
    I'm not misinformed about this. The discussion didn't have anything to do with any sales chart. It was the game ranking on boardgamegeek.com which is based on how well liked a game is, not how well it is or was selling.

    I know very well that the game was limited print run, I made sure to pick up a copy before it sold out.

    abigsmurf is wrong about why it fell on the game rankings chart. The game was #7 three days ago which was already well after most places have sold out. Had it not been for the cease and desist, it would have remained highly ranked for quite some time.
  • by JosKarith (757063) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @11:08AM (#30283420)
    They recently (as in about 3 months ago) revived Space Hulk with a new edition...
  • by Abreu (173023) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @01:27PM (#30285274)

    According to Tolkien himself:

    The word Orc is Old English for Foreigner, Monster, Demon and was used to refer to the Normans invading the English in 1066

    Of course, he was the one who popularized the use of that word in relation to sallow-faced, hunched, warlike humanoids...

  • Re:Lesson of TSR (Score:3, Informative)

    by BobMcD (601576) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @02:54PM (#30286738)

    From http://www.seankreynolds.com/misc/howIgothiredatTSR.html [seankreynolds.com]:

    In 1995, TSR was really clamping down on web sites with fan-created AD&D material ...

    I remember it also, but thought I'd find you some sort of a source. Google has more, I'm sure.

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