9.11.2016

Nintendo Takes Down Another Fan Game

No Mario’s Sky Quickly Renamed DMCA’s Sky


Last week, Nintendo took down No Mario’s Sky, a game which has Mario hop in a spaceship and explore procedurally generated worlds. The development team received a copyright takedown notice, and they responded with the renamed game.

Two weeks ago, Nintendo made a mass filing under the DMCA, with the site Gamejolt at its center. The filing flagged 562 titles for removal from the site, the majority of which were fan made tributes or independent works. This follows the takedown of Another Metroid Remake 2 (AM2R) a few weeks ago, and Pokemon Uranium just after.

Nintendo’s recent trend of heavy handed copyright enforcement did not catch the DMCA’s Sky developers unprepared. Ben Porter, a member of the team, stated “...we had a feeling that we might get a notice, and Alex (the artist) had already begun designing new sprites.” Fellow designer Max Cahill stated in a Reddit thread, “It's definitely Nintendo's right to defend their IP. They've worked hard on cultivating an air of quality and Mario is at the heart of that. We respect their wishes and as they don't want folks playing it, we've taken it down.”

For now, Gamejolt has provided an option for game creators to quickly make their games private. These games will be far less likely to be taken down, as they will be visible only to their creators. This is good news for anyone who had an infringing game, and might allow the creator to rebrand their game similarly to DMCA’s Sky, or at least save their work elsewhere.

“No Mario’s Sky claimed close to 100,000 downloads before the takedown.”

Trademarks are complicated. Nintendo is perfectly within their rights to police the official and unofficial use of their trademark, and in fact has sort of an obligation to. If they don't protect their trademark, it is possible for them to lose it (although that requires a gross failure to police it). No Mario’s sky claim download numbers close to 100,000 before the takedown, which is great for a game developed in 72 hours during a game jam (a video game design competition, often with a central theme).

Nintendo is generating a lot of negative attention recently. With the Wii U’s successor on the horizon, Nintendo might feel they have to keep players from finding their fixes elsewhere. I just hope they don’t lose players to more open platforms.

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