Hasbro issue Cease & Desist to Mane6; Fighting is Magic suspended indefinitely
Did I ever tell you the definition of “dick move”? Well, this is it.
For those who haven't yet worked it out from my subtle hints of YouTube clips and cries of “Sweet Celestia”; yes, I am a brony. I enjoy the show, I enjoy fan music, fan-fiction and even the odd piece of pretty colours arranged in a pleasing fashion. I have some real life merch in the form of clothes, posters and various other items. I even have a mini Rainbow Dash perched on my desk as I type this.
But as well as being a brony, I am also a gamer. I have been gaming for the better part of twenty years now, across a variety of different genres and platforms. Playstations, Xboxes, Nintendo, PC; I've even ventured briefly into the mobile gaming realms. Racers, shooters, RPGs', puzzlers, platformers, adventure, point'n'clicks, RTSs'; I've played 'em all. I've even delved into the beat 'em up genre, with Soul Calibur II being one of my favourite and most played games for a long time.
So, as you can imagine, combining both brightly coloured, anthropomorphic ponies and videogames would be absolute heaven in my eyes. Enter Mane6 and “My Little Pony: Fighting is Magic”.
Flying completely under my radar for a few months after I joined the fandom, Fighting is Magic had already been under development for a good 12-18 months by the time I heard about it. Developed by a small group of fans with the know-how and the elbow grease to lead us to a new light make such a project, it was shaping up to be a decent little game.
Despite what I just said about Soul Calibur II, I've never been big on the beat 'em up genre. I can't get on with Tekken very well, and I've never played a Street Fighter game in my life; but Fighting is Magic intrigued me. It promised simple but in-depth move sets, responsive controls, decent fandom voice-acting, graphics in keeping with the show and looked to be just downright awesome fun.
Why, Hasbro? WHY?! Why now?! Why do you wait until the game is nearly finished before you put the kibosh on it? Why not sooner? Why at all?
The definition of “dick move”, fillies and gentlecolts; is waiting until a non-profit, voluntary, fan-made project is nearly complete before you sic your lawyers on it. It is utterly sickening and has left a lot of people, myself included, with absolute seething fury at Hasbro; as well as a big sink-hole of disappointment.
The Cease & Desist order has meant that not only have Mane6 had to cease any and all development of Fighting is Magic; but they've also had to shut up shop with their associated Twitch, YouTube and Twitter accounts, too. This has effectively shut down everything associated with the project while Mane6 try and negotiate with Hasbro. So far, they've received no response, but hopefully the two parties will be able to come to an equitable agreement.
Now, I do understand the core of the why. It's chiefly because of America's completely arse backwards trademark laws that Hasbro has issued this C&D to Mane6. What I don't understand is the practical why and the why now?
Kotaku speculates that it was probably that the game was likely going to be featured at the EVO fighting tournament this year; and they're probably right. Such a high-profile mention would certainly have grabbed the attention of Hasbro's lawyers. But surely there are other options for a project such as this, especially when it's so near completion as this was? Losing nearly two years of hard work must've been absolutely heart-wrenching for Mane6. This is why I don't understand why.
Allow me to re-cap:
Fighting is Magic was being worked on voluntarily, i.e. for free by these people.
It would have been free on release.
It was being made as a fan-work, by people who love the show; not by people looking to make a fast buck by stealing another IP.
It would have spread mention of the show and possibly garnered more fans, thus more people buying merchandise. In other words: free advertising.
Show me exactly how this is threatening the trademark of the show/toy line. Come on Hasbro, pony up (pun intended). Tell us, the fans. Tell them, the developers. Hell, tell the whole damn world just how Fighting is Magic has threatened you. Because there are only two reasons I can see that you would have done this:
1. You're concerned about the message of the show being corrupted. To this, I call major bullsh*t. There is a metric f*ckton of pony R34 (porn, to you less internet savvy readers) out there and you haven't stamped down on a single bit of it. You can't use that excuse.
2. You're just being overly protective of your trademark and/or jealous/greedy; snatching up or shutting down other people's ideas just because you didn't think of it. If that's the case, you should be ashamed of yourselves. You have ruined nearly two years of hard work by people who wanted nothing more than to share their love of the show you created.
If the latter is the reason (and I highly suspect it is), then any legal challenge from yourselves should be thrown out of court and you thoroughly deserve to have punitive measures levelled at you. As I understand it, videogames are art in the U.S, as dictated by the Supreme Court. As I further understand it, art is protected by freedom of speech/expression by the constitution (any American readers, feel free to correct me on that)1. So yeah, perhaps if this went to court, you'd find yourselves in a less clear cut battle than you thought?
All is not lost, however. We have yet to see the outcome of any possible negotiations between Hasbro and Mane6, plus Lauren Faust, the creator of the show, has unexpectedly come forward on her Twitter; offering to create some new and original characters for the team. Not to mention, of course, the petition that's been started; asking Hasbro to allow the team to finish and release the game. I encourage everyone reading this to sign it and spread word about it, if you're interested. It may not make a difference, or it might make all the difference.
Of course, complaining is useless without perhaps providing some potential solutions. So allow me to posit a few ideas:
1. Come to an agreement whereby Hasbro gives the nod to allow Fighting is Magic to be completed and released, per Mane6's original plan. Simplest solution for all. If Hasbro give written consent, then surely they don't have to worry about their trademark being compromised in the eyes of the (completely backwards) law?
2. Come to an agreement in which Hasbro gets their name on the product and maybe some say in the content, but the game still releases for free, per Mane6's wishes. Not the perfect solution, but definitely better than nothing.
3. Come to an agreement whereby Hasbro hires the Mane6 team, development continues and the game is released for a small fee. This is also an agreeable solution, though the least likely to happen. Hasbro aren't exactly known for catering to their newfound older fanbase, plus they're not in the game development market. However, it would benefit all parties concerned: Fans get a game, Mane6 get to complete their game and are have a job to boot, Hasbro protect their trademark and get profits from the game and goodwill on top of that, from allowing the game to be made.
Needless to say, though, this situation has pissed me off something fierce. A far more fair thing to do would've been to issue the C&D back when it was still a fledgling project, not now when it's damn nigh done. Fellow gamers and bronies alike; I implore you to set aside any differences you may have at the moment and work together against this injustice, that we may allow a labour of love and an awesome project to reach its full potential. Because, as it stands, while there may still be options, it is unlikely this will see the light of day.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the definition of “dick move”.
UPDATE: I have since found another petition, here, with a lower sign up count. Again, I ask that if you're interested in this situation in any way, please sign it.