Monetization and Crowd-Funding of Fangames

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

  1. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    My name's Martin Member
    If you say the same, I repeat the same.

    It's not about owning ideas, is about owning the results of my work, if I (or anyone else) make a videogame, I did it, not you, so it's up to me to allow you to use it or not. If I did something like saying "I had that idea first", it would be something stupid, but if I made something real of that idea, and you're basing your work on the real thing I made, you shouldn't step over me. If laws about it are fair or not, or even if the price at which things sell is fair or not, would be a different topic. I'm personally on the side of trying to find the way to skip the most middle persons and dealing only with the essential people so my work can be sold at the cheapest price possible within a reasonable profit for me.

    My work has a value and deserves credit, don't tell me I shouldn't have the right for it.
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  2. DigitalDuck


    Arriving four years late. Member
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    Well in this case it wouldn't be charging for stuff, would it? It's a voluntary donation. You pay if you want.

    Ideas are not property, and copyright law does not apply to ideas.

    Characters and worlds, however, are.
  3. Lapper


    Sonic Studio, Sonic Physics Guide, Kyle & Lucy: WW, Freedom Planet 2

    Maybe Sega will see this and come down hard on Omens. Better than other fangame makers seeing Omens, thinking "well they are getting away with this, i'd be a chump not to do the same", festering and spreading until Sega realises they have to stomp on 20+ fangame projects and it's just "a thing" now and it becomes a different kind of issue for them.

    I see 3 realities:
    • Sega see Omens as a single case and make an example.
    • Sega doesnt see Omens, this kind of thing becomes more common and suddenly they take notice of an epidemic of this stuff, and well, make a different kind of example.
    • Sega just don't care at all and are happy to allow this (unlikely?)
    Said it before I'll say it again, you can easily make money from fangames but USING the fangame as a showcase of your skills for other people to commission or hire you, basically.

    I've benefitted greatly from my endeavours so far as a portfolio, and even though I STILL make no money from it and I STILL can only do this in free time, it's beneficial to the project itself. Imagine the crap you'd get if people started using cash as their motivation for fangames instead of love and passion.

    I started a Ko-Fi a while back, and tried to make it clear that this did not fund studio (as if it even needed to, the idea that it would seemed so dumb to me that I had to be sure it was clear to anyone) and while I did post Studio related art like background and character renderings on there, I got people donating and saying "I love your fangame" and other things like that which made me feel a bit uncomfortable - so I kinda stepped back a bit with it all and in future want anything like that to be even further disconnected. Not to say that's even bad though, it's unavoidable if you do happen to be making one.

    What is bad is directly connecting money to a fangame like implying you'll only make the fangame with this money support or "donate here so we make this level!" all of that is clearly poking and prodding and hopping over the line.
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
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  4. Chaud


    And I disagree. And that is fine, not a problem, disagreeing is perfectly normal. To me, characters, names, techniques, shapes, combinations of materials, logos, music, combinations of sounds, combinations of objects, patterns, modes of production, are all ideas. Everything that exists physically is an 'object', everything that is not something physical (even though it can be described or be present in something physical) is an 'idea'. How much work you put into producing them is completely irrelevant to whether or not you should have the right to these things.

    Again, I'm not getting into the question of why I think so, I'm just stating that I think that way. To me, there should be no ownership of anything that is not a physical object. If you have a car, it is yours. But if I have some way of making a car exactly like yours in every way to the point that it is indistinguishable, it is mine, and it is irrelevant whatever effort you put into creating it or its particularities. I have never heard an argument that would convince me otherwise, but again, that point is not relevant here - because I don't want to convince anyone to agree with me, and you won't convince me either.


    What is more productive is to focus on what we agree on rather than what we disagree on - which is the fact that Sonic Omens, or any other fangame, should in no way use Patreon or attempt in any way, direct or indirect, to monetize its production. Regardless of my personal ideology, or the ideology or views of anyone else who is defending this game (or any other game in the future), it is a complete waste of time to argue what "should be" or what "I believe is right" or anything like that. In practice, it's what's in the law that counts. If the law says that Sega has the rights to Sonic, then it does. If Sega doesn't want anyone else making money off of it, it is literally within its rights. Just don't do it. Don't fuck this for everyone else, it's that simple.

    If someone want to make angry videos on Youtube about defending the end of copyright or intellectual properties, great, then make your videos and rants. Shout and curse a lot on Twitter. Complain that Sega doesn't make good games anymore, etc. Everyone is free to complain as much as they want or express their opinions. But those opinions are no defense to an illegal practice, and you can't violate an individual's (or company's) constitutional right just because you disagree with it. I think it is more productive to focus on the real, practical consequences of acting in this way. Both here in this forum, and when we go to argue with other people.
  5. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

    Better than Sonic Genesis... Member
    I actually really admire your outlook on this Chaud. While I don't really agree on the "what should be" I do agree we should be focusing on what currently is.

    That said, I think I've finally got some good news to share. Katie has finally responded to the situation on Twitter across two posts. You can find them here, but for convenience's sake, I'll quote them below.

    While it may be too soon to say what's going to happen definitely, I think this is somewhat reassuring to read. If Omens becomes a major problem, it seems they prefer to deal with it on its own basis rather than paint the entire community with the same brush.
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  6. Shaddy the guy

    Shaddy the guy

    Be horny or else Member
    Beaverton OR
    Acquiring a stable income
    Exactly. The thing about fangames is that they exist because of copyright law. People don't typically call BBC Sherlock or Clash of the Titans fanfiction of Sherlock Holmes or Greek Mythology (as far as I've seen). If those laws weren't there, the things we call fangames would just be regular games. So even though the law itself is totally unjust, so long as we can't remove it, we need to point out how harmful breaking it can be to other fanworks.

    I'm glad to see a message of "so long as you're not profiting, it's okay" from Katie, I hope it means there's some acknowledgement that not every fan or fan creator is involved or supportive of this, but I also realize that corporate lawyers are pieces of shit happy to annihilate anything that they say gets in the way of the dosh.
  7. Sui Eel

    Sui Eel

    captan Member
    My stance on Omens is that it was directly making money off of a fan game due to locking playable demos behind a patreon before other people could play it for free, making you effectively paying for a fan game. Having a patreon to support the works of a studio is still questionable to me when the main focus of the studio seems to be said fan game. The only thing that feels acceptable to me is unrelated donations that attempts to disconnect itself from the fan game as much as possible.

    As said here:
    That aside, I'm not really sure on the official boundaries of donations in the eyes of SEGA. They could technically just go full Nintendo and just take down a fan game they don't like even if the donations are technically unrelated.
  8. Lilly


    Muffin Taste Tester Member
    United States
    Shang Mu Architect
    This is one very sticky reason why I'm keeping my Patreon campaign for a future Sonic-like project unlaunched until I'm done with my fan game. There's simply no clean disconnect between the fan game and the original project; people donate money so that you can have more time work on games, and some of that time is still being used to work on the project based on a property you don't own. Especially in a home studio setting, how do you even define, let alone professionally verify, a "clock in/clock out" time period where you guarantee that your patrons' money is only used for the original project by the hour?

    Some peoples' motives will vary, too, as you've shown. A few will only care about the fan game you're making. I've seen some fan artists struggle to keep their following after they go all original, and stop producing fan art; they tend to lament this publicly.

    This is an ethical spaghetti monster that can't be so easily untangled without a lot of questionable mental gymnastics. It's hard for me to find the nuance without that slippery slope feeling.


    This is an incredibly tricky subject that I think is more complex that most of you are willing to acknowledge.

    Copyright applies to everything related to a work, and every part of fandom culture. My avatar that features Nack, this website sharing screencaps and images without authorization. Youtube videos; reviews, lets plays, tribute videos. Sonic Inspired art and characters, and other derivative works even can and do get acted against in the real world by other IP holders. Everything. While Fair Use can and does protect people, it is nebulous and vague just how it would be decided in court and often comes down to the biases of the individual judge. Deciding what is and isn't transformative, educational, parody, or otherwise is extremely subjective and always will be. Even with the perfect case and precedent for fair use, judges can and have made decisions that set bad precedents that change the nature of what a person can and can't do (See:,_Inc._v._Dimension_Films). Expecting it to be wielded in a way that's just or fair in a world where both scammers and corporate asshats exist each trying to maximize their gains against one another and squish the somewhat more innocent people in the middle doesn't change the fact that almost every single aspect of internet fandom that we've followed for the past 30 years can be wrecked at a moments notice should the rightsholder decide it is 'profitable' for them to do so. What is and isn't morally okay here very, very rarely has anything to do with how it really works, and is frankly entirely subjective. A lot of you arguing "this is never okay" are making a value judgement based on a preconceived bias that the law hasn't often shifted based on who is powerful enough to influence it. Worrying about how a bad actor will set a precedent does nothing when a company can simply change their mind with a new executive who believes in something completely different from what the previous leadership did.

    The only reason copyright isn't enforced even more rigorously from big companies than it already is comes down to...

    1. The ethics of the corporation/copyright holder - Not all big companies are unethical, we just live in a capitalistic system that happens to reward ones that are, so many almost inevitably become that way because they believe it will benefit them.
    2. Whether or not a decision to enforce copyright is literally profitable in the long run. Will doing so stop credible damage to the IP? Will the negative goodwill against the brand hurt it? Will the community being upset impact sales and hurt the company's image/value/marketability? Will those profits lost outweigh the potential profits gained if we act and enforce our rights? Will the legal fees and the time spend acting on this be something we can recoup? Does the positive advertising of this item lead to more sales further down the line? Does it lead to less? Have we considered any of this before we act and are we going to make a decision just because we can, whether it's good or bad?

    Now, in many cases, a content creator can win a fair use case, but that is far from guaranteed and the big companies love using methods to bully the little guy when they 'do' choose the aggressive route. Any fandom youtuber knows how much of a frustrating rabbit-hole these issues can be. It's an even bigger issue when the reality today is that the gaming community and even entire platforms (Twitch) are based on a very nebulous existence that could end at any time without warning with almost no defense for the little guy.

    Rather than name-call these guys for exploiting their own monetization loopholes, you guys need to start recognizing that the entire system is borked in the digital age, has been for years, is only getting worse and abused more and more by those in power, and that they don't need a "bad actor" as a precedent to do it. Going on a cancelling crusade against a few people will do nothing to save this community. Telling the IP holder that you won't give them money when they shut down projects unjustly is the only way to protect these communities. Keep them accountable, above all else. Stopping a bad actor isn't your job if you aren't the community manager/website host. That will always be up to the IP holder themselves.
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  10. Overlord


    Now playable in Smash Bros Ultimate Moderator
    Berkshire, England
    Learning Cymraeg
    I see what you're saying, but us rallying around a group that's blatantly trying to make cash off IP they don't actually own is going to cause nothing but issues. No-one has an issue with fangames, the problem is those trying to make money doing it. If you want to sell a game, do a Freedom Planet and make your own characters/setting.
  11. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

    Better than Sonic Genesis... Member
    While all the above is very much true, that doesn't mean the community should be encouraging this sort of behavior or looking the other way when it does happen. SAGE and their actions to ban monetized fangames from their platform is a good example, attacking these people on Twitter are not.

    Yes, Sega could easily wipe out all fan content should they want to, but obviously they realize it will hurt them in the long run. A lot of Sega's recent success is due to the goodwill of fans and how they generate buzz for their products and it seems they're willing to take a nuanced approach to the monetization issues we're seeing here. That said, that can and will change if everyone starts "Following the pack" when it comes to monetization. The fact that Sega could change their mind at any time, or that any major company could shift the precedents of copyright law doesn't mean this situation is any less valid and that we can't peacefully try to discourage such behaivor.


    Fortunately, this is most of what I'm trying to say. I'm not trying to defend these actions, just pointing out that another twitter fight is probably a bad way to handle this situation.

    I've been watching the development of Sonic fangames (and used to make them), since 1998. Watching Tax/Stealth go Pro and create Mania felt like a watching a family member grow to become truly successful since I played their projects over many, many years long before Mania. I've seen how all this evolved and have very strong and mixed feelings about what we have and haven't gotten away with as content creators, but I'm also very grateful to Sega for letting this community contribute in the ways it has. I think the recent tweet they put out also indicates that they're aware of the issue and want to handle it fairly, and that I can live with.

    I'll leave it at that for now.
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  13. Blastfrog


    See ya starside. Member
    Many years ago I was working on a Doom mod, but abandoned it because it was too ambitious and I didn't like how it was shaping up. Some other guy asked if he could pick it up as he had a similar idea but didn't want to start from scratch. I said sure, why not. Cut to a few years later, and I found out he was trying to start a crowdfunding campaign for it. I was pretty pissed, to say the least.


    On an unrelated note, hypothetically, how acceptable would it be if a fangame creator or hacker hired amateur voice actors using money exclusively from their own pocket? And obviously, not charge a cent to the end user for the end product.
  14. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

    Better than Sonic Genesis... Member
    That is actually a really good question. So long as the money came from your own pocket and wasn't earned by leveraging the IP at all, I think you're ok. Obviously, I'm not a legal expert so take this with a grain of salt, but it's your money that you earned honestly and you're directing it towards a passion project.

    I'll pull an example from Star Trek fan productions since that's what I'm more familiar with. For the most part, whenever Star Trek: Phase II or Star Trek: Continues created their bridge sets, it was all done directly out of pocket. Paramount/CBS (depending on the timeframe) was completely ok with it. (Now, it should be noted that Continues did crowdfund to build their Engineering set, but the unspoken agreement with CBS was that no fan film could crowdfund above a certain level, which is where Axanar completely ruined things for Trek fan films).

    tldr; As long as you earned that money yourself without the IP, you can do whatever you want with it in regards to fan projects (I think)

    By the way, how did that situation turn out with your mod? Did he back down from the crowdfunding?
  15. Blastfrog


    See ya starside. Member
    I've been toying with the idea of redubbing SA1 with some OVA soundalikes. Not taking the idea seriously, but I think it'd be fun to do at some point.

    I found out about the incident a couple of months after it happened. Plenty of other people criticized him and talked him down from it. I already knew that he had been insulting me behind my back before that point, but that + the crowdfunding situation really pissed me off. I ranted about it for a bit, and people told me it was no big deal and that I was being a whiner. If they were in my shoes, they would have been just as livid as I was. I really don't like the Doom scene anymore. There's some pretty great people there, but there's also an atmosphere of toxicity.

    I'd rather not derail this thread so I won't say anything further about it in here.
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  16. Aerosol


    Not here. Moderator
    Not where I want to be.
    Sonic (?): Coming summer of 2055...?
    If you want your hard worked valued monetarily, don't use someone else's IP to do so.

    Sonic gameplay isn't copyrighted, right? Just skin-swap Sonic the Hedgehog for Bloop the Bleeper and stop playing the victim. Refusing to do so is a tacit admission that you want to make money specifically off of a Sonic game.

    Or in other words, you want to be paid for producing content involving IP you do not own. Don't get mad at other people telling you that's a dick move and could ruin things for everyone else making content for the IP they don't own and aren't trying to make a buck off of. Fifty Shades was a Twilight fan fic. I think shit would have the fan if E. L. James tried to make money off it when it was still Twilight fan-fiction.

    That her first non-Shades book was a critical bust amuses me greatly. It's almost as if she doesn't have any great original ideas...maybe people trying to make money off IPs they don't own are in the same boat
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2021
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