Monetization and Crowd-Funding of Fangames

Discussion in 'Fangaming Discussion' started by Beamer the Meep, Jul 6, 2020.

  1. Hez

    Hez

    Asshole Oldbie
    3,140
    67
    28
    Hell
    Your mother
    It's VERY likely that this is why SEGA has allowed it to continue. They understand that the community thrives on it, and they also still buy their merchandise/products so it currently is a win win. When you have these entitled assholes who begin to try and monotonous on it, the balance sways in favor of the company not making as much profit as it can. And when a company doesn't make maximum profits....the thing killing that has to go.

    I've also heard someone try and use the whole "WELL PEOPLE CHARGE FOR ART" excuse too. I've also ranted about how it is ALSO ILLEGAL, but the same applies. Sega see's it as keeping fans around, and they could give a shit less about someone making a pound or two off of it. Now, when they make several shiny pennies off of it is when companies get angry.
     
  2. jubbalub

    jubbalub

    mania fanboy Member
    197
    13
    18
    Sonic Mania: The Misfits Pack, Sonic Legends
    The thing about this is SEGA reps (specifically sergio when he still worked for them) have specifically stated it is fangames that are a no-go for monetization.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  3. The KKM

    The KKM

    Welcome to the nExt level Member
    2,155
    2
    18
    Portugal
    Kyle & Lucy Wonderworld
    Sonic Mania and its publicising as "official fangame" by media has ruined fangames in this angle, basically. Lots of new people coming in who think Mania was made by Taxman just making a fangame and Sega going "boy howdy that's a great fangame, here's a billion bucks", so they can just make their own fangames too and get money for it since fanartists do and Sega paid for Sonic Mania anyways.

    The two angles people need to explain is
    1. Sega deals in games, so big projects or projects that're in what they deal in, games, will be scrutinized more heavily because they're direct competition, especially now Mania's a thing and Sega's shown a willingness to do lower-budget 2d games.
    2. It's unfair that you can't ask for money to make your AAA 3d Fighting Adventure Sonic fangame, since obviously you need to pay modellers, actors, etc. But that's the price you're paying for the unauthorised use of someone else's IP. It's a transaction as much as anything else. "Use our IP without involving money, and everything's fine". If you need the money, then you can't move on while continuing to use the unlicensed IP.
     
  4. Mana

    Mana

    Good! Great! Awesome! Outstanding! Amazing! Member
    227
    42
    28
    This is how Christian Whitehead originally pitched his Sonic CD port to SEGA so I can't say I agree here. Sometimes it's worth it just to try. I've also seen people do Paetron's like this for fan projects that were getting a lot of hype, like this animated version of this court reading with the actual voices of Rick and Morty that was an animatic that a fan spent 2 months animating on her own time with Paetron to support her.

    I think it's fine as a one off but not as a regular thing. If people want to give the person making the fangames money so they can work on it full time with compensation to justify doing so I think that's completely okay.
     
  5. Hinchy

    Hinchy

    Up And Down And All Around Oldbie
    1,952
    18
    18
    Lafayette, LA, USA
    I want to make a fangame before I die
    I'll be blunt and say that I'm not keen on all the "capitalism = morality" being thrown around in this thread. As a poor and disabled artist who works on, among other things, fan creations, not being able to ask for financial support for those creations is drastically limiting. You can say "well then you should not make a fangame then" but, well, to be blunt, that's straight-up a shitty attitude. You're basically saying that fangames should only be the domain of the people well-off enough to be able to afford to pay for their own life expenses and still have the time to make a fangame, and fuck anyone else who wants to make a fangame. That is shitty to poor people and shitty to disabled people. It's shitty. Stop.

    Don't get me wrong -- capitalism is our reality, I think protecting our community is more important than these chucklefucks who are openly "poking the bear" (as the saying goes). They're acting irresponsibly and with disregard to the well-being of all of us.

    But needing to be able to afford to live while making art is not a sin, and I don't want to stand for the conflation of those two things in this thread or anywhere else in the community. "Fangames shouldn't cost any money to make" is a bit of a ridiculous notion -- the people working on the fangame have to live to be able make the fangame, and we live in a world in which living requires money; ergo, ALL fangames cost money to make. The fault lies in things like our overly-restrictive copyright/fair use laws, the completely suffocated withered dead public domain (thanks Disney), and that we don't take care of people -- not in a person who just wants to make a goddamn fangame without starving to death.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2020
  6. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

    Better than Sonic Genesis... Member
    93
    11
    8
    There's a drastic difference between making money to live and making money to fund a fan project. When people say that "fangames shouldn't cost money" what I believe they generally mean is that fangames should be payed for out of pocket, not off of other people's money. If you have to do that in order to make a fangame, then obviously you shouldn't make a fangame and focus on budgeting your finances towards what you need to live: rent, food, ect. No one's trying to gatekeep here and keep the community full of financially well off people, it's simply a fact of life that the realities of finances make it difficult if not impossible to budget in costs of creating a fangame if you're short on funds. In short, only pay for what you can afford.

    While I do feel for your position, it is a matter of law (technically it's a matter of tort since it's a civil infringement) that you cannot profit off another IP and donations to fangames violate that. The only option is to pay out of pocket yourself and if you can't then you can't. We can argue about copyright all we want, but this is how it currently stands. Until that changes in some way, what these 3 fangames are doing is wrong.
     
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  7. DigitalDuck

    DigitalDuck

    Arriving four years late. Member
    4,906
    83
    28
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    It's not shitty. You seem to think that there are only fangames, and no games that aren't fangames. Copyright laws are incredibly unrestrictive when it comes to making content inspired by other works. If you desperately need to ask for money for your Sonic fangame, then have it feature a green porcupine named Jeff instead, or come up with something more imaginative.

    The only restriction is the one you place on yourself by insisting on using someone else's art as a springboard for your own. Create something new.
     
  8. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Back on track Member
    698
    51
    28
    Bilbao, Spain
    Upgrading my own life to pro edition

    So, my example on the first page of the topic would be valid? I t was this one:


    I got some partial answer about this the first time, but I'd find funny if this really could dodge the law.
     
  9. Crasher

    Crasher

    Why hello there! Member
    409
    9
    18
    I think the only thing that'd really get you in trouble, for this, is the level design. If it's quite literally Green Hill Zone Act 1 - except instead of bridges, it's some floating platforms you have to jump over - then you'd be in trouble. If it's that the level design is inspired by Sonic 1's design, rather than Sonic 2/3K's, then you'd be in the clear. You may also need to tweak the physics, as having 1:1 physics may raise a few eyebrows. However, considering how SEGA can't replicate the physics in their current games, you might be fine :V

    For a real world example of how it can go wrong, take a look at The Great Giana Sisters. The gameplay and artstyle was recognizably similar to SMB, and first level was incredibly similar to World 1-1, which lead to Nintendo contacting the devs and telling them that it was blatant copyright infringement. For examples of games that aren't copyright infringement, look at Freedom Planet and Spark the Electric Jester.
     
  10. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Back on track Member
    698
    51
    28
    Bilbao, Spain
    Upgrading my own life to pro edition
    Freedom Planet and Sparks are quite different from their source of inspiration. Socket/Time Dominator attempt at cloning Sonic is a closer call even if it's shit compared to the original, so it would be interesting to know how further than that we could go.

    Btw, I'm now tempted to use Runic and Golemnik for a fangame (that I'll probably never make) in a similar way Rush did with Blaze and Nega.
     
  11. Lilly

    Lilly

    Muffin Taste Tester Member
    2,249
    87
    28
    United States
    Shang Mu Architect
    This is a very frank perspective I hadn't considered before, and I appreciate that you've brought this into the conversation, Hinchy.

    In my case, my fan game project is directly funded by me covering my own living expenses, by holding a restaurant job. It's a tiring job that sometimes extracts so much of my free time from work on the game, but my boss is half the reason I'm still in one piece, so I owe her and her family a lot; I can't ask her for less hours, or more stable hours, until my game dev habit is a legally recognizable second job. But, this is how I've funded the game's development, and still am!

    However, for the brief period that I was homeless, (But still had my job!) I was staring down the barrel of having to abandon the fan game, so that I could immediately start work on my first original project, then setup a Patreon to compliment my day job earnings and thus, sustainably afford an apartment with those two sources of incomes combined.

    This was four years of work on a fan game that, had this happen, would have never seen the light of day, because my sudden, unforeseen need to survive (while also not eroding my goodwill in another fandom by accepting donations) would have forced me to cancel it. I'm very lucky to be safe and comfortable now, so work on the fan game continued where it left off.

    This was just my struggle as an able-bodied person to continue working on a fan game without external funding. I had never considered how disabled people or low-income artists basically feel locked out of the scene, because they can't self fund their fan game projects, or get funding via Patreon without raising a lot of flags and controversies, as seen here.

    I'm still a strong advocate of "make your own thing" regardless, because I like seeing fresh new faces doing new things with old ideas, instead of *only* the same, familiar, sometimes century-old pop culture icons being repurposed in some new way. But, your post does make me wonder if the fandom could, overall, adopt some shades of gray on this matter.

    What I don't know is if the fandom is even ready for that sort of conversation. We're all very protective of this scene being allowed to exist at all; all it takes is one well-off person exploitatively making an undeserved income off of fan works to set a legal precedent that takes it all away from us.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  12. Mana

    Mana

    Good! Great! Awesome! Outstanding! Amazing! Member
    227
    42
    28
    Most other fandoms I know have supported fan creators financially at some point to help them get a project done. The Rick and Morty one I mentioned even got shared by one of the creators of the series who was very happy to see it be completed.

    I guess it's just different with fangames because they do operate more regularly and out in the open then most of these projects but still.
     
  13. MrMechanic

    MrMechanic

    Member
    80
    52
    18
    I've not really been following the conversation so my post may seem like a brick through the window kind of thing... apologies for that but anyway...

    I've been toying with the idea of making a video essay on this subject because I feel there's a lot to say and a lot of people 'don't get why it's a problem'.

    But for me, without looking too much into it. The biggest problem is that, fangames are just too close to what Sega's primary business is.

    I can give a few examples of this actually happening in a sense.

    Remember when Sonic 2 HD had a 'virus' in it? Yeah it was a keylogger or some other ridiculous DRM feature that really shouldn't have been in there.... .. .Wait... Why are all these gaming news sites reporting this anyway... Wait why are these mainstream news sites reporting this when virus and malware disguised fangames get released every day... Oh... It's because the game looks so much like an official Sega game isn't it?

    I even had a similar experience myself, I used to help run an old Sonic merch collecting page on Facebook, it's been dormant for over 10 years now... But a few years ago some woman left a 'complaint' that her son nearly choked on a dodgy Sonic action figure. Despite the fact our page was clearly a fansite, clearly unofficial and clearly had nothing to do with Tomy... She brought the complain to a facebook fan group believing it was the official page.

    I also remember asking the folks at Sonic the Comic Online if they'd ever considered crowdfunding an anthology of the online issues, they said they had but didn't want to take the risk since it would be so close to Sega's actual output it would be a big risk.

    Fangames are now really rivalling actual official projects in many respects, imagine you went back in time to 2011 with a few titles from 2020's SAGE expo and said "This is what Sega is planning for the next year!" I bet someone people in the fandom who have the above average knowledge and experience would totally believe it.

    So the wider population is easily going to be fooled. Someone downloads a fangame, it contains a virus or does something weird, or they 'pay' for it and it doesn't work or does something else strange... some people WILL contact Sega about it.

    Now we could turn around and say "Well all Sega has to do is say 'That's not one of our projects'", but eventually, their reputation is going to be at risk, even though it has nothing to do with them, you have the association problem that you really need to address.


    Unlike Fanart, videos, even fan made products like Plushies... Fan games are just way too close to what Sega actually does. Even though Sega does make artwork, videos and commissions companies to make products, it's just outside Sega's core business enough that there is that safety barrier... Oh yes they could send C&D's, they could absolutely, but I think they've realised that it's more beneficial for their business and customer relations not to do that.



    Do I think that Fangames/teams shouldn't get crowdfunded?

    As someone who makes YouTube vids and makes sure that ads are turned on... I'd have a bit of a double standard if I said no.

    But they need to go about it much better than some have been so far. For example. Instead of backing the game, you back the individual people, the individuals working on the game. By now people working on fan projects should have a portfolio of work of some-kind (Wordpress, YouTube, Fansite, Twitter) something that can show 'hey this is what I can do.'

    Then offer or say "Look I have a patreon page, please support the work I do which I don't get a salary for."

    That's the only way I can see fangames being safely funded, not to directly fund or advertise the game, but the people behind it.

    However, if Sega picks up the game or shows interest, they need to pause or shut down their patreons pages.

    Like for me since I do have a patron for my channel. I've already made the decision and have told people that if I ever got a job at Sega, or another gaming company, I'd have to pause both the patreon and the Badnik Mechanic channel, there's just no way I could continue doing both due to that conflict of interest or the material I did being considered too close to where I was actually working.

    And that for me at least is the big issue that fangames and the teams working on them need to realise, if they want to get money to support the project, they can't fund directly to it, they need to realise and accept that fangames are so close to Sega's actual business model that unless they try to get funding through means which is not tied directly to the game. For me at least, the only way they can really do that is to set up their own support systems as individuals and hope to get support that way. Which is far from ideal, but it's the only way I can see it working.
     
  14. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

    Better than Sonic Genesis... Member
    93
    11
    8
    I do agree very much with this sentiment, but it's a very fine line. Yes, funding of this sort should always go to the game developer themselves rather than the project provided that said fangame isn't used as an incentive or advertising for said funding. Say I opened up a Patreon so that people could support me and my various projects and added "early access to my Sonic fangame" as a 5 dollar incentive or put on my page description "help me fund my projects such as Sonic Fangame X". By using the Sonic IP to purposefully solicit money in any way, I'd be infringing on copyright. Now, if I didn't have such an incentive or put any mention of this fangame on my page but mentioned other original projects, I can still use that money to fund my fangame because that money was earned without the Sonic IP and becomes money out of my pocket. It's a very very fine distinction, but one too easily overlooked by many people on Patreon in my opinion and it's the primary reason why I don't have one for my remixes on YouTube.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  15. Lilly

    Lilly

    Muffin Taste Tester Member
    2,249
    87
    28
    United States
    Shang Mu Architect
    That's interesting! It's nice that the Rick and Morty creators were so open to fan projects with non-commercial interests like that.

    I think what makes fan games different is that directly contacting the IP holder for permission in a lot of instances is- well, far less obvious, and even less possible. (So you have to operate on the assumption that they won't take issue with your work, as long as you keep it non-commercial, and make it clear your fan game isn't a licensed work.) Who do you even solicit for something like that with a company that's a multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporation with three separate branches? (The only answer is that you don't, it will make your head spin! :V)

    In my case, I'm making a fan game of an indie game, so contacting the creator is much easier than, say, asking a SEGA rep about Sonic, but conversely, I'm more prudish about the frequency and scope of my questions. Even when my situation was dire, as detailed above, I entertained the thought of asking them about Patreon for not even two seconds, before this GIF of a guy jumping out a window played in my head, and I was like- no. Just, no. I felt my face and spine tingle with disgust.

    (Thankfully, I'm renting a nice place now, so I spent far more time telling myself why I shouldn't do that, than why I should. :specialed:)

    I would have rather canceled the fan game than accept donations for it. God forbid asking the creator of an indie property if it's okay to commit such a blatant, direct threat to their bottom line with their own IP. I'm doing something very, very few people have, I cannot begin to describe how much time I spent thinking on where that fine line in the sand should be drawn. In the early days of the fan game's development, as much time was spent thinking about the boundaries of what the project should even be, as time was spent working on the collision model.

    My conclusion was that making a fan game of an indie should be scoped with more prudence, than an IP held by a multi-billion dollar corporate entity that stands to lose maybe a fraction of a cent by me making a fan game. Whereas you stand to do more harm to an indie who's operating at the kind of scale familiar to games of the late 80's/early 90's, and don't yet have an extensive catalog of their own games.

    A long Sonic fan game is okay, people still buy the official ones in droves. A long fan game of an indie is ironically direct, harmful competition to the people you're showing respect for. Keep it light.
     
  16. Hinchy

    Hinchy

    Up And Down And All Around Oldbie
    1,952
    18
    18
    Lafayette, LA, USA
    I want to make a fangame before I die
    To be clear, my disability has locked me out of making a fangame of my own for my entire life. Now I'm facing the very real threat that I won't even live long enough to make ONE (ONE!) fangame. Despite being in the fangame scene my whole life. Despite fangames being what I really, truly, deep down want to make. Despite Sonic Robo Blast 2 being the game that made me want to make video games. I might DIE before I finish ONE fangame. I'm currently fighting like hell to avert that fate.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  17. Lapper

    Lapper

    Member
    1,604
    214
    43
    England
    Sonic Studio, Sonic Physics Guide, Kyle & Lucy: WW, Freedom Planet 2
    I have had a few handfuls of people mention that they'd pay good money to play Sonic Studio, I feel like I'd probably do decently well. But it'd be so stupid it never crosses my mind.

    I like the idea of totally separate funding for general stuff, like the developer showing off their skills like art or programming, even if it's generally Sonic or fangame related. Indirectly, fangames can be a portfolio and act as a kind of platform to show off skills. Eventually, you could easily use that same platform to show off and fund even more directly your own original work.

    As long as it isn't pay to play, "fangame early demo access", "hey i can add more characters if I get more cash" or "get a special level if you pay x amount", then it's probably ok.

    Literally being paid to make Sonic games, with the game as the motivation, is more than crossing the line. I can do indirect things such as make videos about my dev journey or whatever I decide, it's the same as if someone else decided to cover your fangame in videos. I'd be making Studio whether I could make videos about it or not because I'm not relying on it.

    I only get to work on Studio a very very few hours a day, if at all. It's bottom priority, as it should probably be to anyone who decides to do this. I could easily say "I want money so I can bring you the game faster" but that goes against why I even make it in the first place. It teaches me to improve my skills, it allows me to "show off" what I can do, and it makes people happy. That's it.

    It's weird to me to rely on a fangame in any way other than that.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2020
  18. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

    Better than Sonic Genesis... Member
    93
    11
    8
    This is a very good point. It could sound as if it's "exposure", but fangames really do act like portfolio pieces and free advertising for your own skills when you do go on to make an original game. Lake's fangames, while not getting him an industry job (I believe he's stated that he doesn't want one) has led to people funding and picking up the Spark games because they know he does quality work. I believe there have been people in the fangame community who did go on to get industry jobs, but i can't cite any particular examples. The point I'm trying to make though is that fangames, if produced out of pocket, can pay off in ways that aren't monetary because they're basically your resumé. If you have good work on your resumé, people will want to work with you/see what else you can do.
     
  19. DigitalDuck

    DigitalDuck

    Arriving four years late. Member
    4,906
    83
    28
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    I completely agree, and I'd like to repost previous posts I've made about this:

     
    • Agree Agree x 3
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  20. Tiberious

    Tiberious

    Yeah, I'm furry. Got a problem? Oldbie
    692
    1
    18
    The main problem, especially with Smackdown, is it's basically created completely from other assets. Mighty, for example, is essentially Mii Brawler from Smash Bros. Ultimate, Rouge uses Menat's idle and walking animations, and has a direct copy of one of Firebrand's Hypers from MvC3/Infinite, Knuckles has Shin Shoryuken for a super, Tails basically plays like Rocket Raccoon and Mega Man, Blaze is MvC3 Akuma cloned as a cat, and many, many more moves and animations you can tell are directly ripped from Capcom fighting games. There's no subtlety about it, and that's why it's so dangerous to the fangaming community.
     
    • Informative Informative x 3
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List