Actually, I think the question is more complicated than that. What I meant to ask was “will we ever see a game based on another game without the original owner of the copyright involved?”
Arguably, we have kind of seen this already. Just look at the Xeno series of games. Most of them just aren’t connected to each other in any legally binding way, as they were made by completely different studios and development teams. Xenogears game out first, made by Square. Then Xenosaga , which was loosely based on Xenogears , came out, made by Monolith Soft and Bandai Namco. Finally, Xenoblade Chronicles came out, made by Monolith Soft and Nintendo, and it was VERY loosely based on Xenosaga (really it was just a renaming of another game called Monado). Now Xenoblade Chronicles X is being made, and it’s very loosely based on Xeboblade ! But, at least for the first few games, the original creator was involved, and the last few games were all made by Monolith Soft, so that’s not exactly what I’m talking about.
Let me explain. Say that a genius programmer gets out of school and decides “man, I have an amazing idea for a Chrono Trigger sequel.” Let’s say, for arguments sake, that it’s a really good idea. Every fan of the original loves this idea. He’s proven that he can make the game, write it, code it, even do the graphics, and it will be an amazing production. Heck, he doesn’t even want to charge for it! He wants to do it for the love of the original series and nothing more.
Square-Enix, the current copyright holder, doesn’t have any plans for Chrono Trigger . Sure, they may release a remake every seven years or so just to prove that they want to hold onto the copyright for the property, but they don’t plan on releasing a new Chrono Trigger any time soon.
In fact, this genius programmer goes one step further. He says he is so dedicated to getting this game out there and to the fans, that he will GIVE it to Square-Enix. He will do all the work himself, give it to Square, and then they can sell it, and he will ask for absolutely no money.
In our current environment that game would never be made. Why? Because Square-Enix controls the copyright to Chrono Trigger , and WANTS to control all media made for the property. It’s in their best interest to deny anyone the ability to make a Chrono Trigger game, because if it flops or even receives any negative criticism, that would reflect badly on Square-Enix.
We have all come to accept this, but what about other intellectual properties? Would the original writer of Little Red Riding Hood consent to a story where the Big Bad Wolf gets transformed into a human detective in New York? Yet, since the fable is in the public domain, it was able to be used for Fables , which was then transformed into the award winning game The Wolf Among Us .
As it stands now, it’s unlikely any of our game IPs will hit the public domain in our lifetime.
The idea behind copyright was to spur innovation, to allow creators to be protected from people copying them and making money off their hard work. However, it seems as if our current copyright implementation is doing more to stifle creativity rather than encourage it. Heck, look no further than Youtube. Copyright strikes flow like water there, even when a video should be protected under fair use. The mere threat of legal action is enough to get people to take content down. So if we can’t see videos made about video games, what hope do we have to see actual games made about other video games?
What do you think? Should fans be able to make their own tribute games without threat of copyright lawsuits? Let us know in the comments.