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SEGA quashes Streets of Rage fan-remake

Wed 13 Apr 2011 8:11am GMT / 4:11am EDT / 1:11am PDT
Legal

Bomber Games' homage was eight years in making, one week live

SEGA's lawyers have demanded that a fan remake of Streets of Rage be removed from its download site, after only a week or so of availability.

The game, developed by Bomber Games, had been eight years in the making and featured 103 stages, 19 playable characters, 64 enemies, 83 remixed songs, more than 40 cutscenes and eight different endings.

A statement on the Bomber Games forum requested that all distribution of the title cease until the legal situation was clarified.

"SEGA have contacted regarding the download hosted on this site," read the post. "While this issue is being resolved, please do not upload the game for others to download. Any links posted on this site will be removed. Thank you."

Since making the legal request, SEGA has issued a statement to Kotaku, explaining the decision.

"SEGA is committed to supporting any fans that take an interest in our games, and where possible we do so by involving them in Beta tests and other development, marketing or research opportunities.

"However we need to protect our intellectual property rights and this may result in us requesting that our fans remove online imagery, videos or games in some instances."

28 Comments

Ken Addeh

37 0 0.0
I would have thought SEGA would use this as an opportunity to take Bomber Games' new idea's/effort and take them under their wing, the same way that Valve has done in the past and would do in the future.
Considering S.o.R is an IP they just kept re-selling in 'SEGA classics' bundles it would be cool to see something like an iOS version of the 'Remake' to help keep things fresh within SEGA.

(That reminds me. Did they chase after the Sonic XL mod?)

8 years and they only seemed to pick it up now? Though i would fully understand if Bomber Games planned to make money off of this, then it'd need to be squashed fast.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ken Addeh on 13th April 2011 9:48am

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor

405 203 0.5
I've heard some really great things about this. It's a shame that it's very unlikely that SEGA would do anything with this. There are reasons not to make a game based on old IP but when one is sitting in your lap with VERY little chance of damaging the IP and probably guaranteed cash then what's the problem?

Posted:3 years ago

#2

Mark Raymond Gamer; Consumer; Blogger

40 0 0.0
If the remake is that much of a threat to SEGA then I don't see why they couldn't have worked with Bomber Games to sell the thing over digital services.

Posted:3 years ago

#3

Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd

84 0 0.0
As someone who works in Community Management there are serious Copyright and IP concerns.

Generally if you want people to do this sort of thing you empower them to do it. You provide art work, encourage machinima and ask people to show you the work they've done so you can help them share it. It's a lot of fun, you empower your fans and nobody minds as it's fun, the fans do it for love not profit and can actually help promote and expand your brand.

Sega may take Bomber under their wing, but Bomber didn't ask, and in an industry that lives or dies on intellectual property, they can't set a precedent for not acting.

It's not just a matter of Bomber may or may not wanting to make money off it. When another games company "borrows" your IP, to make a "Remade" version of your game as a "fan" without your permission then they're chipping into your companies life blood, they are reaching into your pocket and potentially hurting your business. In which case it's perfectly fine for your lawyers to get in touch with them and start mentioning words like IP Theft, Breach of Copyright and royalties.

Even if the download was free I suspect Sega would also object to the remake on the basis that it's a threat to sales on Retro game backs for new platforms, the 30 Great Megadrive/Genesis classic titles on one disc deal.


Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alex Loffstadt on 13th April 2011 10:31am

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
I agree with previous comments; it probably would have been a better decision from a fiscal and consumer perspective to either allow this (Sega have done sod all with the IP except shove it in their Mega Drive/Genesis Collections in the last few years), licence it to Bomber Games so both could earn a little money from selling it properly, or buy the company and put this remake on Steam/Live/PSN. To just knock it on the head like this seems a bit short-sighted and miserable.

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Ken Addeh

37 0 0.0
@Alex:

What you've said is actually quite worrying... Meaning that if you're a fan, they only way of displaying this is by continually giving them money for something that's retro and that does not have the intention of being rebooted. Especially since Bomber though of adding some new content to it (which if SEGA though was such a threat, should have released new versions. They have so many iterations of sonic...then they see another IP is gaining some steam from other means why don't they just take it on board or at least work with bomber to get that content used for an official release!)

You don't have to directly ASK to be part of SEGA's gang to be a part of it. If they are truly fan's they'd have done it for the love of the game, and I can imagine an email being sent to SEGA HQ saying "Hey SEGA!, S.o.R was amazing, can you do a remake please?" getting the standard response of "Thanks for your devotion to the game over the years but we have no plans to release or update the game."
Again i refer to Valve with TF2, although in a different platform, it's rewarded fans that made maps/mods/etc by making them official maps without those players begging, or pleading valve for them to be official.

In theory, asking a company to look into your plans for a remake should work. In practice, it's not straight forward.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ken Addeh on 13th April 2011 10:52am

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Alex Loffstadt Community Manager, Outso Ltd

84 0 0.0
@Ken "Generally if you want people to do this sort of thing you empower them to do it." Valve are very good at this. Portal is a great example. But with Valve and companies that issue mod kits, provide servers for UGC etc etc. They give their permission for this to be done and they are generally involved in or actively monitor the process by connections with clubs, groups, clans the running of competitions etc.

There's a BIG difference between a fan producing a bit of fanfic, fan art, or machinima and a company actively offering a version of your property, including the original art work and branding for download without your permission.



Posted:3 years ago

#7

Farhang Namdar Lead Game Designer

75 47 0.6
Honestly Alex this project has been in development for a long time and SEGA knew about this and were fine with it. After noticing that is was actually good they decided to set the lawyers out. This is bad from SEGA's point of view. This game was and has always been a non profit project there was no threat at all. IP wise if the team making this is not making money off of this there isn't any problem, it actually strengthens future interest in the IP. And calling a bunch of fans making a game an actual company is a pretty big statement. You can't release anything under one mans name and you know that so they had to call themselves something in the end.

Posted:3 years ago

#8

Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments

309 398 1.3
It's quite worrying that people seriously think that something being not for profit makes IP issues go away - I don't know enough about this to comment on sega's actions, but the fact the remake was free does not void out any IP problems it may have caused.

Posted:3 years ago

#9

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

454 443 1.0
The threat of sales is no greater or less than a pirate copy, so SEGA have plenty of reason to respond.

But, everyone knows you're supposed to make an IP-free game (/engine) and let modders create a Streets of Rage mod, otherwise you will receive a cease and desist letter :)

Posted:3 years ago

#10

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
Streets of Rage is defenitly a franchise that should be rebooted and I do hope sega solves this issue in a way that this game can be released. i myself would not mind purchasing something like this. Sega is in all their right to demand it be taken down, but I really hope they can come to a resolution with Bomber such as release the game under a name that seperates it from the main franchise like "Streets of Rage Remix". Besides sega cant seem to do there own games right, look at were Sonic, Shinobi and Phantasy Star have been. Here I am wishing bomber does an oldschool phantasy Star game.

And this is a message to SEGA... "Eight years in the making and featured 103 stages, 19 playable characters, 64 enemies, 83 remixed songs, more than 40 cutscenes and eight different endings. I would gladly buy something like this, so give Bomber a shot."

Posted:3 years ago

#11

Christopher Bowen Owner, Gaming Bus

118 0 0.0
Here's what bothers me:

This has been in development for eight years. It wasn't a secret development. In fact, Sega KNEW about this. They had to have known, because we were playing playable builds of the game for years. This did NOT just catch them off guard.

Now, allow me to play armchair quarterback (for you Brits, armchair football manager) for a bit.

As explained, Sega has an obligation to themselves to protect their IP, through litigation if necessary. If they don't, then they can't go into court to say that their IP has been violated because the court will say that they lost their rights to it by letting anyone do anything they want with it. This would be the case if someone tried selling their work (instead of just downloading it).

However, Sega also knows the hatred Square Enix went through in regards to the Chrono Trigger fanmade sequels. Squeenix waited until the game was 99% complete and then sent the lawyers. It was a total "screw you". Again, this wasn't a secret; though they weren't talking to Sega like Bomber was, the project was well known, and an early build of the game - nothing more than an IPS patch for the ROM, the latter of which is not legal - was playable. The end result: mass hatred for a company that hasn't made any friends since their merger, and the damn thing was released ("leaked") anyway. No one won.

Sega let this thing be live for a week. In that time, I downloaded it, I have it, and you know what? I played it yesterday. It's great. But Sega knew what they were doing. My THOUGHT - this is purely speculation - was that they wanted to get fans excited for the game, keep their IP out there, possibly drive some sales to the XBLA and (assumably coming soon) PS3 ports, and a chance to work with Bomber to make a fully featured version of the game for downloadable services. Obviously, they would have to add things to make it worth paying for - the game is still available via download services, and Sega has not DMCA'd places like Rapidshare and Megaupload yet - but I think that's the plan. This way, fans are eventually happy, Sega possibly makes some money off of the work of someone else, and they keep control of their IP.

If I'm wrong, and they didn't think this through, then their lawyers should be fired for incompetence.

Posted:3 years ago

#12

Eric Schittulli Head of Customer Service, Aeria Games Europe

7 3 0.4
If I remember well, Bomber Games notified Sega about what they was doing and sent a letter to their Legal Dpt. Sega gave a green light to Bomber Games but changed their mind since they put SoR on XBox Live. Sega hopes that the buzz around SorR v5 will boost their sales on the XBox Live Arcade.

I mean, it's completly understandable. What bother me is the fact that their changed their mind.

There's a post from 3 years ago from Bomber Games :

"I would like to say that we did actually contact Sega last year through an e-mail message regarding the use of copyrighted material, to which they answered asking us to send a formal letter to their legal department, so that's what we did.
We accepted the ESA policies regarding the DMCA as well, otherwise this website would not exist anymore. "

Source : http://www.bombergames.net/forum/viewtop...

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Eric Schittulli on 13th April 2011 3:04pm

Posted:3 years ago

#13

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
I hope sega comes to terms with bomber and allows them to release the game, while potecting there IP. As long as Bomber acknowlages that the IP belongs to SEGA and sega licensed it for use... even if it was free of charge I think that would be enough. I wouldnt mind purchasing the game through PSN or XBL either. I wouldnt mind spending money knowing it would go to the guys at bomber or even sega for being nice about this. If anything, this can be the wake up call Sega needs to reboot the franchise. You have a bunch of fans dedicate 8 years to there game when Segas own people are sleeping in their offices letting all these franchises die.

The PS2 Shinobi and kunoichi were hardli succesful Shinobi games, Sonics latest games have been so lack luster I dont bother. And Phantasy Star has focused on online gameplay, lacks story and the character previouse games had.Plus its so filled with commercial cliche, that franchise has lost its depth. The story and gameplay isnt deep enough to take it seriously.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 13th April 2011 3:08pm

Posted:3 years ago

#14

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator

955 184 0.2
Ouch...but as Christopher pointed out, this isn't exactly old news. Why are Sega dealing with it now?

Posted:3 years ago

#15

Eric Schittulli Head of Customer Service, Aeria Games Europe

7 3 0.4
I think I answered that. ;)

Posted:3 years ago

#16

Luca Mogini Editor @ insidethegame.it, Content & Community Manager, Translator

6 0 0.0
Actually, I really don't see the problem. Apart from the usage of an already existing IP, this kind of operation is potentially great marketing. You have an old IP, a group of people dedicated enough to work on it for free, and a product that will put your old IP everywhere on the news. On top of all you have the fact that the original game is on console, while the remake is on PC, so you have that kind of permeability that drives the PC players of the game to buy it again on console.
What I think, and see (I work as a community manager for some tv channels) is once again an attachment by the industry to old standards and rules. This one occasion is no less important than the launch by Nintendo of the Wii on a casual market: you have a new marketing paradigma and you have the occasion to be the first to make money, and prestige on it. The real question is who will get to it first?

Posted:3 years ago

#17
I dont know much about the Industry feelings, but Streets of Rage looks so dead now... The Remake looks a good heart intention to make us remember the good days. Maybe Sega could make a Streets of Rage 4, or deal with Bombergames. But Looks like they like to keep selling dead things, on bad ports.

Posted:3 years ago

#18

Roberto Bruno Curious Person

104 69 0.7
That's a very poor move, and reading people throwing around poor attempts to justify it is sickening.

Exactly what are they going to gain from this "protection of intellectual property"?
Nothing, that's what. This is a stupid, outdated and self-destructive conception of copyrights, which is going to hit that category of diehard fans which should be Sega's best to court and pamper.

Once again, it's "capitalism for dummies" in one of its most obtuse obstentations.

Posted:3 years ago

#19

Andrzej Marczewski Games Reviewer

4 0 0.0
I have been playing versions of this for ages, such a shame that a giant like SEGA should feel threatened by such a loving tribute to a great franchise. This is especially true since this is such a turn around from them originally giving permission (from what I remember). If these guys thought they would not be allowed to continue making it, I doubt they would have carried on - it was not all that quite a development!

I really hope this gets sorted, as I was looking forward to trying the final release!

I wonder if it just comes down to the fact that this free offering was better than the paid for ports on XBLA / PSN

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrzej Marczewski on 13th April 2011 5:15pm

Posted:3 years ago

#20

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
"Eight years in the making and featured 103 stages, 19 playable characters, 64 enemies, 83 remixed songs, more than 40 cutscenes and eight different endings."

I dont know what Sega gains by preventing this game from circulating, however Sega's own people still have yet to accomplish a feat like this. It really is a shame.

Posted:3 years ago

#21

Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer

241 99 0.4
I don't know why people even bother with remaking games if they haven't got a written aproval.. Why not use all that creativity to create your own game, they clearly have the capabilities..

Posted:3 years ago

#22

Patrick Frost QA Project Monitor

405 203 0.5
@Roberto - If SEGA don't actively pursue litigation against people violating their IP rights then they lose the ability to protect their IP. If they have been seen to be making those efforts then their copyright/TM becomes invalid.

Posted:3 years ago

#23
This is outrageous! Version 4 of The SOR Remake has been available for many years and I have been following the project ever since they announced that they were going to pull out all of the stops for version 5.

Version 4 had also received a fairly decent amount of coverage from the gaming press in the past including Retro Gamer so there is no way that Sega could have not known of this project it has even been quoted that they approved of the game in the past, if the coverage is to be believed.

After playing through a large portion of the games total content I can only see a couple of minor things that Sega may not be happy about. These include some minor usage of blood, allowing the main characters to use guns and the fact that they included elements from Burning Knuckle III (Such as Ash, and exposure of Blazeís underwear) into this as well which I imagine Sega of America and Europe arenít too keen on people knowing about.

Yes Alex I do completely agree with you and Sega has every right to protect their IPís regardless of their current stance and fading popularity in the industry. But to pull the project after 8 years of publicly known development is just plain cold. Bomber games have made a fantastic tribute which I doubt Sega of today could even begin to match. My heart really does go out to them on this one.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Spencer Marshman on 13th April 2011 10:45pm

Posted:3 years ago

#24

Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments

309 398 1.3
@Andrew - that's a fair point, no commercial dev would sink 8 years dev time without a formal licence agreement.

Posted:3 years ago

#25

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
Interestingly enough, Sega announced yesterday an iOS port of Streets of Rage. The situation begins to become a little more clear...

Posted:3 years ago

#26

Andrzej Marczewski Games Reviewer

4 0 0.0
Well it all males sense now. Sega launched SoR2 on iOS today.

@andrew - the developer thought they had approval from Sega three years ago.

Posted:3 years ago

#27

Emily Rose Freelance Artist

85 44 0.5
@Andrew They did get permission, that's the main problem, SEGA backtracking, though I'm guessing it was an informal decision, "at this time" etc.

Here's hoping something good comes of this.

Posted:3 years ago

#28

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