Minigames: fair use, or copyright protected?

So, you want to be a game maker? It might be easier than you think! Come here and see...
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
RedSocialKnight
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2008 6:07 am

Minigames: fair use, or copyright protected?

#1 Post by RedSocialKnight » Thu Aug 27, 2009 2:46 am

To what extent would it risk violating someone's copyright to have a minigame similar to commercially available games in your own game?

For example, I have an idea for a combat mechanic that is basically a simplified version of the card game "Sets". Would I risk being shut down by the makers of that game?

What about block-matching puzzles? There are a million clones of Bejeweled out there -- but are they all paying Popcap games a royalty, or do they have to change the game just enough to avoid copyright infringement?

Or can a game mechanic not be copyrighted?

User avatar
hanako
Site Admin
Posts: 3327
Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2007 1:44 am

#2 Post by hanako » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:08 am

Software patents are... complicated. Mostly people say you can't protect the gameplay, just the look and feel. If you make your game look confusingly similar to Bejeweled, you're more likely to be in trouble than if you just make a game about matching groups of three. IIRC people got in trouble for making scrabble clones either because they used the name scrabble or because they had tiles that looked just like scrabble tiles (with the number in the corner).

However, it's always a good idea to change the rules a bit, both to protect yourself and so that people playing the game don't feel like they're being ripped off by getting an exact copy of something else.

To an extent, games with similar rules are considered to be just members of the same genre. Most FPSes have a lot of things in common. This is good for developers AND players because it means a common skillset can carry over, so players are more comfortable trying out different games.

User avatar
RedSocialKnight
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2008 6:07 am

#3 Post by RedSocialKnight » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:16 am

Thanks!

FantasiaWHT
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:11 pm

#4 Post by FantasiaWHT » Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:26 pm

Good advice, Hanako.

Worst case scenario a cease-and-desist letter heads your way. You're not going to get sued out of the blue.

Post Reply