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Nintendo Shuts Down 'Pokemon Uranium' Fan Game After 1.5 Million Downloads (thewrap.com) 140

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wrap: The fan-made "Pokemon Uranium" game took a pair of programmers more than nine years to develop. Nintendo needed just about nine days to kill it. "After receiving more than 1,500,000 downloads of our game, we have been notified of multiple takedown notices from lawyers representing Nintendo of America," the creators of "Pokemon Uranium" said in a statement. "While we have not personally been contacted, it's clear what their wishes are, and we respect those wishes deeply. Therefore, we will no longer provide official download links for the game through our website," they continued. "We have no connection to fans who re-upload the game files to their own hosts, and we cannot verify that those download links are all legitimate. We advise you to be extremely cautious about downloading the game from unofficial sources." The role-playing game was free, though creators @JVuranium and Involuntary Twitch were open to suggested PayPal donations of $2-$10. Set in the tropical Tandor region, "Uranium" players can encounter more than 150 all-new species of Pokemon in their quest to collect all eight Gym Badges and triumph over the Tandor League, per the official description. Along the way, the players must battle against a sinister threat that's causing Nuclear Meltdowns.
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Nintendo Shuts Down 'Pokemon Uranium' Fan Game After 1.5 Million Downloads

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  • Surprised? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 17, 2016 @09:13PM (#52723167)

    Was anyone surprised by this? If you use somebody else's intellectual property without first getting consent, it seems like you're dooming yourself to similar failures. I don't know what they were thinking using a heavily trademarked and copyrights franchise brand without first seeking legal advice. It's possible they may have been hoping for some "fair use" argument to prevail, but IMO that seems like a long shot.

    • Was anyone surprised by this? If you use somebody else's intellectual property without first getting consent, it seems like you're dooming yourself to similar failures. I don't know what they were thinking using a heavily trademarked and copyrights franchise brand without first seeking legal advice. It's possible they may have been hoping for some "fair use" argument to prevail, but IMO that seems like a long shot.

      Yeah, I'm kinda shocked they didn't see this coming, this seems like a pretty clear case of trademark infringement.

      They'd probably be fine if they just rebranded their pokemon as fairies or some kind of magical creatures, but calling them pokemon is asking for a lawsuit.

      • Re:Surprised? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 17, 2016 @09:29PM (#52723205)

        Maybe they wanted to Streisand from the start?

      • We just went through this a week and a half ago with the fan Metroid 2 remake AM2R. Nintendo shut that down in 2 days.
        http://www.ign.com/articles/20... [ign.com]

        It is a brilliant remake, which was desperately needed because Nintendo seems to constantly ignore Metroid. If Nintendo shuts down something like this, Pokemon doesn't have a prayer.

        • by Hidyman ( 225308 )

          Actually AM2R is still up. They just released an update a couple of days ago.
          They sent C&D letters to the places that hosted the file for download.

        • "which was desperately needed "
          I know what you mean, but I can't help thinking 'first world'...

          • Not sure, the war in Syria, BLM, Ghostbusters reboot, all could have been avoided.

          • Dude, don't get me started on first world problems. We're about to get either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as President. Cut me some slack.

            "Desperately needed" in the sense that Metroid 2 is the hardest game to play *legally* now and the longest in tooth technology-wise. Most people aren't going to casually go to eBay and pick up a working GameBoy.

            The original Metroid got remade as Zero Mission. Super Metroid can be played on Wii U Virtual Console, and at least that game has color. Metroid 2 can be playe

            • There are certainly harder games to play legally. This game, for one. Or Fighting is Magic, which faced very similar legal issues. For both these there is no way to play them legally at all.

            • "Cut me some slack."
              no worries... it was actually meant largely as a self deprecating joke... (because I myself get annoyed maybe 100 times a day for things that I immediately feel guilty for getting annoyed... things like if one badly designed toothpaste tube doesn't let you squeeze it all out... so I have to constantly remind myself "yeah, first world problems".. Btw, I guess this constant self reminding is actually a first world problem in itself, or a first world metaproblem..) cheers!

        • A remake of Metroid 2 is not needed. You might want one, but it's not needed. The original game still exists and is still playable (and is, I believe, legally available on Nintendo platforms via the Virtual Console).

          If you want "a modern game that is a lot like Metroid 2", then there are any number of indie game projects that fit that bill on Steam. Some of them are terrible, others are basically more or less as good as the old Metroid games (though they lack the official licence or the nostalgia value). Th

      • That's exactly what I was going to say about this one. The authors set themselves up for it by calling it Pokemon. There is a limit to how far one can expect to go with a fan creation, and these guys went past it. I know Nintendo gets a lot of flack for going after silly cases but this one is a pretty clear case of infringement.
      • But everyone damn well knows they likely wouldn't have gotten 1.5 million downloads otherwise. This is exactly why intellectual property is actually valuable and is vigorously protected. I have a hard time thinking they'd be so stupid as to think they'd get away with this*. It's got to be about the publicity.

        * I could be wrong. People always manage to surprise me on this point.

    • And the nail in the coffin was accepting donations

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Donations post free download count for nothing, as it is legally up to the donator what the donation was for. Nintendo in this case is really dumb, basically they were going to get a ton of free advertising for their pay to play games, the better the free version ( as long as it is not as good as the paid version) just promote the brand, way cheaper than any other form of advertisement (free versus millions of dollars) of course, hmm, if the change their mind after the Streisand affect and become all nice a

        • by gsslay ( 807818 )

          Ah, the universal excuse for stealing other people's work; "free advertising".

          What you are over looking is that a crappy "not as good as the paid version" game actually dilutes and damages the brand. It may advertise it, possibly, but not necessarily in a good way.

          Why don't you come put a couple of weeks' work in for me? For free. But it will be excellent free advertising for your other work. The jobs where you actually get paid. I get your work for nothing, and I'll tell everyone what a great job y

      • That was actually the brilliant part. If they sold it, now they'd be SOL. With donations, they may even still make money from games that are now being downloaded from third parties.

        • by Holi ( 250190 )
          If they make money off of it, it will give Nintendo a nice opening to sue for pretty much all the proceeds they get and probably more.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think it was rather stupid. People need to learn that those who have money make the rules. When the rules are abused by people without money, the people with money get tougher rules made.

    • Indeed. They could have gotten around the problem completely by calling their game something else (Capsule Beasts, Pouch Mutants, etc.) and changing any graphics that were identical or too similar to the Nintendo games'. There's nothing that says that they can't make a similar game (and really there's already plenty of Pokemon knock-offs over the years) and release that instead. They still probably could have gotten a lot of support from the fan community or maybe even started their own series.
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

      Nine years developing a game that anyone could have told them would be banned almost immediately.

      Either they are naive enough to think the attention will get them a job at Nintendo (it won't), or they are naive enough to think Nintendo wouldn't notice or care (they always will). Either way, pretty naive.

      • Or they were brilliant enough to understand what's going to happen.

        First, the name Pokemon alone would ensure that a lot of people download their game.
        Second, Nintendo will rip it from stores.
        Third, this will get reported.
        Fourth, publicity for being a poor, widdle developer who invests NINE YEARS only to be squished by huge corporation
        Fifth, profit.

        Because they ain't selling it. Yes, because. If they sold it, they would certainly not make a dime from anyone who downloads it now from a third party. But by as

        • Well, they can't strip then of voluntary donations in any situation, but they can try to block new donations by asserting that defying trademarks in such a way is a form of terrorism :P
        • by Holi ( 250190 )
          You think because they are only asking for donations that Nintendo could not come in and sue them for any proceeds. If they are profiting off the game they are open game for Nintendo. Since it is such a clear cut case of trademark infringement I doubt the case would last very long.
        • Actually, they can go after them for defamation of trademark and trademark dilution and get damages far exceeding the donations.
          • You cannot squeeze blood from a stone. Sure, you could sue me for more than I own, but rest assured that my money will be gone before you get to see a cent.

            • Sure, but if I make sure to drain your resources, I deter anyone else who wants to abuse my trademarks. It doesn't matter how small your resources are as long as everyone else knows this scheme isn't profitable. At least, that's the legal theory. Whether it works in practice is anyone's guess.
              • What resources? The first thing I'd make sure when trying to pull something like this is that I would not have any resources left to my name.

                • I think we're talking at cross-purposes here. The discussion was about taking donations afterward as a way of getting money from this stunt and about the benefits of pulling this stunt. My point was that Nintendo has ways to make sure that people do not get any material gain from doing this. And they can garnish wages from any future resources you try to earn.
      • I've met some people who were very smart programmers, but didn't really understand or "get" the rest of life. This seems like a prime example of that.

        I would say Aspergers but every time you do these days you'll get some SJW who claims to have it ranting about discrimination etc.

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      No one with a tiny bit of insight was surprised by this.
      When it came out "how long before the takedown?" was maybe the most common question people asked themselves. Nintendo and the Pokemon company are well known for being very protective of their IP.

      I think even the devs saw it coming, they may even have their response planned in advance. I suspect their strategy was to make a huge buzz early on and exploit the small amount of time they had before the takedown.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'd think they'd be better off c&d'ing all those nintendo/Pokemon sex fetish media/games on certain sites that inundated their rabid fanbase full of teenage furverts damaging their IP permanently, more than some low quality fangame that should've known better to not waste a colossal amount of time for not having the effort to make use of creative imagination.

  • Checksums (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 17, 2016 @09:45PM (#52723247)

    Checksums in case anyone wants to verify any downloads:
    http://pastebin.com/QDgXsxmL [pastebin.com]

  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2016 @11:01PM (#52723439) Homepage

    I'm the first to say pirate on! But here you are using another companies product name and charging for it for commercial gains. What did they expect to happen?

  • If Nintendo does not shut down these projects their ability to protect their products in the event of real theft vanishes. At face value it appears as though Nintendo is simply inept when they don't act until after these projects (Pokemon Uranium/Another Metroid 2 Remake) are released . However, I believe that they are willfully allowing these projects to complete and release before issuing legal threats with full knowledge that they will never really remove them from circulation.
    • until these games are released there is not much they can do apart from warn. It is also not Nintendo's responsibility to seek out everyone that may be thinking about infringing on their IP, it is up to the developer to do there own due diligence or suffer the consequences.
    • by guises ( 2423402 )
      Nintendo is under no obligation to shut down fan projects. Someone started a rumor at one point that companies act like dicks all the time then they lose all protection under the law - this is not the case. However, in this instance I don't see that Nintendo is doing anything wrong. Making a fan game is all well and good, but soliciting donations for it is a giant breech of conduct.
      • Nintendo is most definitely obliged to do something about it. Trademark laws require companies to actively protect their trademarks or risk losing rights to them. This isn't rumor or fantasy it is basic trademark requirements. Failure to defend a trademark can be treated as abandonment of said trademark.
        • Certain platforms have rampant trademark infringement in the programs offered on them, especially games. Does the fact that trademark holders (including Nintendo) continue to ignore them cause their marks to be genericized on those specific platforms? (Or maybe they are unaware of the infringement...quite possible, but I am not sure if that matters legally.)

          (Not asking for legal advice—just curious...I was actually wondering about that just a few days ago.)

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Thursday August 18, 2016 @01:54AM (#52723809)

    What's the big deal? AFAIU the monsters are their unique designs. All they need to do is remove the Pokemon association and trademarks and all is fine and dandy.

    • From the trailer video, it looks like they're using sprites taken directly from some of Nintendo's games, alongside their own invented monsters. They could definitely remove The Pokemon Company's properties and leave just their own, and rename the game and terms in the game to create something non-infringing. It likely would take substantial editing/rebranding.

      Of course, without the name and familiar characters the begin with, this game likely wouldn't have gotten much attention in the first place.

    • by dfm3 ( 830843 )

      ...the monsters are their unique designs.

      Not really. For example, one of the screenshots on their website shows a monster named gyarados [pokemonuranium.com] which features a sprite that looks like nothing more than a recolored version of... well I'll let you guess.

    • by Holi ( 250190 )
      Except they didn't, all because they wanted to ride on the success of that brand.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This totally reads like viral advertisement to me. They HAVEN'T been contacted by Nintendo, but they are making a big dramatic statement about removing official download links and and getting loads of publicity for it. Oh, and you can donate some money via paypal hint hint.

  • What I don't understand about things like this is why the company doesn't just cut a deal with the chaps and make some damn money.

    • 1.5 million downloads at a suggested donation of $2-10, meaning it's darned certain they didn't get more than $3 million.

      Nintendo's choice is to "cut a deal" for a fraction of less than $3 million (probably a lot less), thereby encouraging other people to illegally rip off their IP, or spend a couple hundred bucks having a lawyer tell them to knock it off.

      Personally, I wouldn't want to signal to the marketplace that if you rip off my brand, I might pay you for it.

  • They have no right to market Nintendo's property for free, donations or anything.

  • I'm sick and tired on MdSolar posting these anti-nuclear propaganda pieces!

If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders. -- Hal Abelson

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