[Update: What a surprise, the screenshots were also stolen, making this campaign a complete and total scam. Assets belong to Graalonline Delteria. Thanks to Stephane Portha at Toons Lab for the info.]

When a game designer is just starting out they often wear their influences on their sleeve. Players label games as “franchise-styled,” or in the same vein as classic “notable studio”. Let’s be clear, there is nothing wrong with a developer finding inspiration and acknowledging a successful property. However, there is something wrong with predominately displaying the name of said successful property on your crowdfunding campaign to gain attention. A lesson in the making for the aspiring developer behind Eternal: (Zelda) Online.

The project is seeking a funding goal of $50,000. For this price the campaign promises backers, “a 2d MMORPG that has similar graphical and gameplay mechanics as past Zelda games that were released on the NES, SNES, and Gameboy systems.” At this point it no longer matters that Eternal Online is trying to release a MMORPG instead of a classic RPG action-adventure, the developer has already tied the project firmly to a Copyright he has no claim on.

This right here? Don’t do this.

If anything, all those appropriated key words only make it easier for Nintendo of America Inc. to stumble upon the project and issue a DMCA take-down notification. Which is a thing, they do, all the time, because of exactly this sort of situation. Hell, they have people who make their living searching out and putting an end to these sort of shenanigans.

Scam A Little, Scam A Lot

Okay, let’s get brutally honest for a moment. Even if Eternal Online removed the Zelda piggy-backing, the campaign wouldn’t reach its funding goal. Between the incredibly sparse information shared on Kickstarter and the overly ambitious dreams of MMORPG success, this project was doomed from the start. Even so, beginning developers need to be wary of trying to build hype by invoking intellectual property they don’t own. The results can be both long-lasting and detrimental to their future endeavors.

From the Kickstarter copyright and DMCA policy page: “Kickstarter has adopted a policy of, in appropriate circumstances, terminating user accounts that are repeat infringers of the intellectual property rights of others. Kickstarter also may terminate user accounts based on even a single infringement.”

Given how stringently Nintendo monitors its properties, this isn’t a risk worth taking. Especially not for anyone hoping to launch career in the game industry.

About the Author

Joanna Mueller

Joanna Mueller is a lifelong gamer who used to insist on having the Super Mario Bros manual read to her as a bedtime story. Now she's reading Fortnite books to her own kiddo while finally making use of her degree to write about games as Cliqist's EIC.

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