Earlier this week, Nintendo issued DMCA takedowns to SteamGridDB, a community site that hosts user-created images to be used in on Steam. Although the site is primarily meant to provide an aesthetically-pleasing alternative for fans, Nintendo games are not available on Steam and therefore would only be there as emulated ROMs downloaded without Nintendo’s knowledge or permission. The implication seems to be clear based on their selective use takedowns targeting artwork for only 5 games: these are games that Nintendo are still trying to actively sell themselves and want to curb piracy of them. Plus, the requests were targeted against the use of their own characters sprites, that left original creations and fan art alone; a decision that makes sense based on the potential
fair use and transformative nature of fan art in some situations.
But that’s not all! Nintendo was also responsible for setting off some drama in the Super Smash Bros Melee competitive scene that has everyone blaming each other. After licensing the right to host tournaments to Panda Global, they engaged in negotiations with another company called Smash World Tour. However, after failing to reach an agreement, Smash World Tour canceled their upcoming World Championships and the entire next season, costing the organizers hundreds of thousands of dollars. They claim to be blindsided by Nintendo & argued that Panda engaged in bad faith by preventing them from working out a deal. Nintendo refutes these claims and blame the decision to cancel the championships entirely on Smash World Tour (unclear whether they grappled with the issue of its subsequent legality without a license…). In response, Panda acted confused at all the blame it was getting, while admitting their CEO was vocal in support of their own interests (a little suspicious). And the fans have decided to boycott Nintendo & Panda tournaments as a result – a mess created by the inability to agree on the use of legal rights.
This is just the latest in a long string of interventions made by “The Big N” against those who infringe on their intellectual property rights – if you’d like to learn more, stay tuned for my video presentation releasing soon all about Nintendo & their exploits 🙂
You can find below the link to mine and Charis’ presentation! We hope you enjoy it and we would love to hear your comments. Feel free to comment on this post, the Youtube video, or even reach out to us!
However, I would insert a trigger warning here. There is also a trigger warning in our presentation, but we just wanted to warn you that our presentation deals with difficult topics such as sexual assault. Please do not feel obligated to watch our presentation if you feel as it will be triggering to you.
Similar to my last post detailing contract issues in LoL, the Valorant season has also ended and there is a lot of team restructuring going on. A fundamental change has occurred to the structure of esports within Valorant, in which Riot announced there will be three international leagues with 10 partnered teams each for the 2023 season. Due to certain organizations making partnership as a result of their brand as opposed to their actual play, there has been a lot of shuffling around of rosters, including multiple players from certain teams being brought out by organizations within the partnership. Riot recently released their contract database for these new leagues, which highlighted that players are on deals ranging from 1-4 years, with 2 years being the most common. In the context of preventing ‘contract jail’ situations from happening, as well as the fact that Valorant is a relatively new game, this seems to make sense from both the player and the organization perspective. I wonder how Riot, as well as the organizations themselves, have decided to structure their competitions and deals for players differently given that Riot is the developer for both LoL and Valorant and that many of the organizations exist within both the games.
The VG industry is significant in Europe; it is estimated to be worth more than 21 billion US dollars and it keeps growing every year. We know that a lot of the industry activity emerges from Pacific Asia and North America but let’s not forget that Europe is home for major tech companies such as French Ubisoft, CD Projekt Red, Gameloft etc. Moreover, the industry doesn’t only generate economic activity; no one can deny its cultural impact on the European society, especially on the youth.
However, national government in Europe kept giving more attention to the movie industry, putting aside – even ignoring – VG. And why was that? VG were simply considered as leisure activities, “nerdy hobbies”, when in fact it helped many non-English speakers to learn this language, improve technical and cultural skills etc.
Unfortunately, this carelessness from many national governments and from the EU itself led many tech companies to set sails from Europe. Let’s take for instance Minecraft, a Swedish-born company later acquired my Microsoft because Mojang lacked capital and investment for this type of activity.
But this story doesn’t end on this black mark. The EU, more precisely the European Commission, is currently trying to adjust tactics by recognizing the importance of the VG industry and granting it more attention. The Commission developed a major project quite transparent when it comes to its name: Understanding the Value of a European Games Society. Launched in January 2022, the project is aiming at understanding the industry in its core to identify and create future policies while creating a network of VG experts.
This comprehensive and long-term approach of the VG industry is making the EU a step closer to reconnect with the potential it has for its economy and its societies. And it seems to go well because the Parliament has just adopted on November 10 a resolution on VG and Esport in order to acknowledge their value and their growth potential.
Let’s now see how this initiative evolve and if the EU will keep taking the VG industry seriously.
In Amit and I’s presentation about video game regulation, we briefly discussed China’s gaming regulatory regime. China has some of the strictest video game regulation in the world. As discussed in class last week, China restricts the amount of time minors can play video games, with youth gamers only being able to play 3 hours per week. Chinese companies uses facial recognition and registration to enforce these measures.
It was interesting to see yesterday that soon after posting our presentation, several articles announced that Beijing is showing signs of easing its intense crackdown on the video game sector. A report published by a key Chinese industry body praised China’s progress on reducing gaming addiction among minors. The report found that 75% of young gamers now played for less than three hours a week. Experts posit that the report may be signal of a better outlook for the Chinese gaming sector, with less strict controls on the horizon. In conjunction with the report, Chinese regulators approved a batch of 70 new games for release, another positive signal for the sector given there was previously a freeze on new releases.
However, a more skeptical and perhaps more realistic view finds that this report comes amidst a backdrop of declining gaming revenues in China. Perhaps this announcement is being used to lay the ground work to ease economic hardship in the sector, rather than show a real measure of China’s long-term success in controlling gaming. Despite the signals, it remains to be seen if China will truly ease up its strict regulations in the long term.
One initiative from Games for Change is “Raising Good Gamers” which holds “video games and new media as spaces of learning, social exchange, and civic engagement among youth will not be realized without a shared public agenda addressing the growing problem of toxicity online” (see: https://www.gamesforchange.org/initiatives/). Earlier this year I had written a post in regard to Call of Duty’s new code of conduct. While its efficacy may be questioned it nonetheless demonstrates that developers are live to the issue of toxicity online. Developers are speaking out against this issue and I believe that goes to Games for Change’s point that we need a shared agenda that addresses online toxicity. Games, and online games are hugely powerful social spaces. I remember during the pandemic how important video games were. With nowhere else to go my friends and I often turned to Call of Duty to socialize. Even today with our schedules, gaming is one of the only ways to consistently “get together” and talk.
Moving forward I believe online games will genuinely be characterized as social spaces in the mainstream (if they aren’t already). Do you think developers are doing an adequate job of (a) recognizing that their games are “social spaces”; and (b) addressing the toxicity problem.