EA issuing DCMA notifications over Ultima IV

Crackdown on fan remakes sparks speculation over secret Mythic project

Electronic Arts has been tracking down many of the fan remakes of classic RPG Ultima IV and requesting their immediate removal, despite a thriving fan modding and remake distribution scene having existed uninterrupted for several years.

DCMA notifications, which call for removal of copyrighted material online, have reportedly been issued to a number of sites hosting remakes of the game.

A posting on Ultima fan blog Ultima Aiera originally alerted press to the issue, although a second article has since been posted to establish clarification of some misreported angles of the story.

Whilst many flash-based versions of the game and more recent remakes have been taken down, not all versions of the game have been affected. EA has always retained the legal distribution rights to the title, but granted limited re-release rights to a fan group known as the 'Ultima Dragons'.

That group has retained the privileges outlined in the agreement, but many other sources have been ordered to cease redistribution.

The change of heart has led some to speculate that Ultima IV could be the basis for a 'secret' project currently underway at Mythic, referred to online by Paul Barnett. Whether that would be a full-scale remake of the title is unclear, but it seems unlikely that EA would be investing in another large MMO concurrently with Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Related stories

EA drops paid loot boxes from Star Wars Battlefront II

Loot boxes will only yield in-game credits or cosmetics like emotes and victory poses; new costumes to be sold la carte

By Brendan Sinclair

EA adds WBIE to Origin Access

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment becomes first major external publisher added to subscription game service

By Brendan Sinclair

Latest comments (6)

Felix Gladitz6 years ago
Fans and Modders should be supported - not "punished" for all the wrong reasons. (their intentions have always been good and not to simply break copyright laws).

Much like the fan remake of Half-Life 1 is being supported by Valve (with the only condition being - that they had to remove the term "Source" from their mod title).

It seems a bit of a let down and a kick in the butt to issue a DCMA notice to a "thriving fan mod scene which has existed uninterrupted for several years".

Let them have their fun!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Felix Gladitz on 31st March 2011 10:34am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
John Donnelly Quality Assurance 6 years ago
Felix, its one thing to support the fan and modding community, whch EA is doing with the license to one group at least, but but on the other side of the fence there is a need to protect their IP and copyrights.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Felix Gladitz6 years ago
Yes true - I understand that, but the timing seems to be a bit off - when a community has been allowed to thrive for several years and now BOOM!

I completely understand the need for protecting IP and copyrights, but in this particular case it seems odd.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (6)
John Donnelly Quality Assurance 6 years ago
It does come across as odd and heavyhanded but we are looking in from the outside and dont know what is going inside EA to trigger this action.

It could be that some of the communities have oversteped the line and taken EAs good will in allowing the use of their IP too far.

I am just speculating here though so I could very well be wrong.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Christopher Bowen Owner, Gaming Bus 6 years ago
Let's assume that EA's going to make something with the Ultima name, something that would drive them to remove 14 years of goodwill. They feel they need to pull it back now, to do that.

They've just alienated their largest fans, fans that would probably buy something with the Ultima name on it sight-unseen. Now, they're probably not going to do that, some of them out of pure spite. If this is on a "hackable" platform (like PC or handhelds), forget it, the game is DOA. It's not like these gamers can go "too far", because the game has been available for free in its' entirety. I downloaded it once. It even came with the awesome books in PDF format! This was fully allowed.

Therefore, I can't really see the wisdom in this. This isn't just closing the barn door late, this is closing the barn door after the horse has left the barn, gone to the neighbour's farm and knocked up his mares.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 6 years ago
@Christoper: Herein lies the problem with many fan-created game projects. Too much talent and paradoxically, not enough thought going into the end result.

A great deal of these games are well-intentioned and amazingly crafted (and usually fun as hell to play). However, the utter lack of common sense by the folks who team up (or work solo) to rework a game that's already been done by exactly copying every element (upgraded visuals aside in some cases) is astounding. Why can't these folks understand that an original work by someone else recreated no matter how lovingly isn't theirs at the end of the day no matter how much time they've spent on it? Even if it manages to be a better product than the original, it's all moot. If you've had it up and running and free for a while, it's going to be getting clipped off the internet at some point once the right (or wrong) people get wind of it, period.

All that time and talent would be FAR better served if original content "inspired" by the source material (and yes, don't call it Ultima or anything close) or purely original content was created. Instead, it's yet ANOTHER remake that's invariably going to be shot down in flames because the IP rights are held by a big company with lots of legal power that is interested in a reboot.

And I'm someone who LOVES seeing fan made games. To a point. Would I like to see, say, a direct retelling of KOTOR made using an isometric engine? Sure, but I'd probably also realize that the makers would be under some sort of copyright violation that would get them into trouble unless BioWare, LucasArts, EA, any actors who's likeness you used (or their estates) and whomever else had potential problems with this signed off on this remake.

I think that most decent mods don't count of course, as many improve upon and/or alter content significantly enough that even the publishers generally respect them (and yes, folks have been hired based on their mod work). That and there have been quite a number of mods solid enough to get the thumbs up from the folks behind the original content, which is always a great thing to see.

On the other hand, I have to ask what the intentions are of the folks doing these dot for dot remakes (or enhanced versions of the same game)? Is it to get hired by a game company at some point down the road? Is it for the sheer undying love of those games they're recreating (often as better looking, less buggy product)? Or is it a bit of both plus more elements I'm not considering? In the end it doesn't matter a bit unless these folks decide to wise up and check into EVERY legal area before spending time, effort and money frittering away their free time only to be told all their work can't be shared once it's all done (or close to being done).

In the end, the fault has to go to the recreation teams, not the big evil corporations with the big evil legal teams. Unless you've gotten the go-ahead from everyone, gotten ANY legal stuff out of the way and so forth and so on, it's a useless venture at the end of the day to spend years on yet ANOTHER Zelda, Mario, Ultima, Final Fantasy or whatever clone. Square Enix has shut down plenty of FF-inspired fan games over the years and that hasn't affected actual FF game sales from what I can tell. Nintendo is well know for having its legal teams going after many fan-made remakes, so why is it surprising that EA would come a-knockin' on the doors of Ultima fans when the license is still theirs (and viable once more).

Meh, maybe we'll see more originality come out of all this latest stuff, but I doubt it... some folks can't seem to grasp the difference between homage and swiping to the point of "we need to maybe see if this is OK..." territory.

That said, if it were an Ultima PARODY... then, I think there's some measure of protection in terms of using some direct elements (and hell, it better make the legal team laugh their asses off) ...
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.