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Tool of the Week Awards!

Who will win the award this week for being the biggest jerk in the MMO industry?  My nerves are a-tingling!

First up is Games Workshop, who have graciously taken time out of their schedule to sue the pants off of Warhammer Alliance for vague, ill-defined reasons known only to lawyers and the standoffish.  WHA was one of my favorite sites back when I was doing WAAAGH!, and I really appreciated the time and energy they put into the site.

So it’s always good to be repaid for years of being a community supporter by being sued, just because.  Bravo, Games Workshop — tools you are indeed!  Way to pick on the little guy!

And speaking of lawsuits, the ever-litigious Derek Smart — you know, the guy who is saving MMORPGs between writing 21-page rants against former employees — has been caught in a rather embarrassing case of plagiarism by the folks over at Kill Ten Rats.  Turns out that when you’re being lazy and don’t want to write a press release about your crappy game, why not copy the press release of a much more popular title instead?  I’m SURE nobody’ll ever catch that!

A hefty tool-well-done to you, sir, and may we enjoy the subsequent verbal squirming that will ensue as you try to weasel out of this.  Perhaps BioWare used a time machine to travel to the future, stole Smart’s words, and then used them illegally!

So who will win Supreme Tool of the Week?  VOTE!

21 thoughts on “Tool of the Week Awards!

  1. GW never gave WHA legal permission to use any of the Warhammer IP. You can look up on their site where it says “Used without permission”. Once Curse bought the place (which is the real defendant here, not it became a part of a commercial entity and was no longer entitled the privilege allowed to true fansites. Direct links to and half a dozen other affiliates hardly promote the Warhammer IP.

    There’s also the matter of trademark law and how that works. Basically, if you don’t actively protect your trademarks then you can lose them. The fastest and easiest way to get a settlement? Throw everything in the book at your defendant and see what sticks. That’s not exactly uncommon in ANY kind of court case.

    So GW isn’t picking on the little guy by any means. They’re getting up in Curse’s face and laying some pipe. If ANYONE is making this negative, it’s Curse and their ilk for dragging it into the public light when it probably didn’t need to be there. They’re trying to make all the fans of WHA feel sorry for the fact that they’re using GW to make LOTS AND LOTS OF MONEY. likely isn’t in any real trouble of going away. Curse might have to spit out some cash and play by GW’s rules, but the chance they’d shut down the site is going to be determined by how Curse wants to deal with it.

    That being said, I’ll vote for Mr. Smart. He’s always a fun toolbag to pick on.

  2. Gah, why do I always get Wizards and Game Workshop mixed up? My brain has the sickness, I tells ya!

  3. Magic :The Gathering = Wizards of the Coast

    Be that as it may, Smart wins the title in my eyes.

    Kind of jerky of Games Workshop, however, copyright law being what it is these type of lame suites must be filed in order to maintain the validity of a copyright.

  4. That may all be true, Grimnir, but GW is still being extremely Tool worthy with this move. Even if their claims are legit, doesn’t make them less repulsive.

    Derek Smart on the other hand… Well, do we really expect anything other than top notch tooldom from him at this point? Why do you think the only game that will hve him is a full-on knock off?

    I have to go with GW if only because Smart is just too easy a target to pick.

  5. Grimnir, I don’t dispute what you’re saying, except for the claim that they’re making “LOTS AND LOTS.” From what I can tell, they’re running two Google Adsense ads. Anyone who’s tried them can tell you that it takes a tremendous amount of visitors to generate enough clicks to make real money. I’d bet they’re making some, enough to pay the hosting costs, but, just like always, I think the site is continued as a service to the fans.

    If anything they’re probably making less money from it now than they ever had before, given how poorly the game wound up doing.

    It’s still a douchebag move, in my opinion, and an obvious money-grab in GW’s attempt to collect damages.

    How, exactly, has running a fan forum that developers regularly utilize warrant damage claims. It sounds more like GW is crying because WAR didn’t do as well as they’d like and they’d like to re-establish their grip on the franchise.

  6. I’m with Grimnir: I really don’t believe GW are being tools (picky little pieces of faecal matter yes, but not tools.) Also, I really do not like Curse one bit, since they axe pretty much anything if the game suddenly becomes unpopular; in fact. I’m honestly surprised WHA didn’t go the way of AoCSource (which was a really great community as well.)

    So, Derek Smart by default, although I actually quite enjoy his frank if fairly crappy attitude.

  7. If Curse is making money in any way from the GW IP, then GW have no choice but to sue. Otherwise it leaves them in a difficult position legally when someone else starts making money from their IP.

    It was a similiar problem with the Damnatus fan film made in Germany a year or so back.

    As much as everyone wants a new WAR conspiracy and something to kick off about, this situation isn’t really anything to do with WAR.

  8. “Otherwise it leaves them in a difficult position legally when someone else starts making money from their IP.”

    Cough, Tolkien thought of it first, cough.

    Personally I think they’re batshit crazy. Warhammer deliberately launched without official forums, relying on people like Warhammer Alliance to do for free what they would have otherwise had to hire customer relations staff to do.

    They may well need Warhammer fans in the future – who’d want to put up an amateur site now?

    And I don’t understand where these supposed vast sums of money are rolling in from. It’s a free forum that costs nothing.

    So in short – thanks for running our community for us when we had our heads too far up our bums to do it ourselves, now we’ve totally screwed up the game we’re cease and desisting you in the naive belief that it will reduce the amount of anger when we shut the servers later this year.


  9. @Chris

    They might not be making much money off WHA directly from the two banner ads, but they’re directly owned by a company that makes lots of money. Curse hooked into WHA for the exposure and has their other sites linked to it directly at the bottom of the homepage. Find the clickthrough rate from WHA to any of their affiliate sites and you’ll see where they’re profiting from owning WHA.

  10. @Stabs

    Your confusing Mythic, the MMO developer, with Games Workshop the developer and copyright owner of the Warhammer universe. Mythic launched without official forums, relied on third party community support and released a less than steller product.

    It’s like blaming Games Workshop for having to use Games for Windows Live to play multiplayer Dawn of War 2 instead of Relic.

  11. I’m going with Games Workshop simply because they’re actually suing people over it. Smart was an idiot but at least it’s not hurting anyone…

  12. I really don’t care whether it is Curse or just WHA they sue. Without those forums WAR wouldn’t be what it is today.

    Derek Smart, is Derek Smart. He will just blame it one some PR guy.

  13. As someone mentioned in the thread on the WHA forums:

    “GW is basically suing their own fans” .

    So if they want to throw their fanbase, specifically Warhammer Online fanbase, onto the curb, then shut WHA down. Do they think the fans are going to flock to their “official” forums all of a sudden? Where should they be going? Methinks the fans are just going to give them the finger and either move to a new site or simply let Warhammer die into obscurity…since this exactly what this action will lead to.

    Mythic launched without a community and they had all kinds of reasons err “excuses” , eventually they did launch forums but highly sensored and they split EU and USA . As a european, there’s nothing worse than being a secondary citizen in a game where you’re paying more [in euros] and then being reduced to some GOA-crap “the developers-don’t-even-know-about-europe” community.

    It’s one thing to launch with these things from the start, but once a community is ALREADY FORMED and then to try and break it down is not going to mysteriously going to bring the community together.

  14. Curse is not in it for the fans of the games. They are trying to make a buck off of other peoples (game developers, ip’s, etc) property and hard work. When they start charging money for a so called “premium service” just to download mods for a specific game, they have crossed the line and should be held accountable. Not a big fan of Curse and I feel GW has every right to do what they are doing.

  15. Derek Smart being Derek Smart is tool worthy, but Games Workshop suing a fan site who has brought them tons of traffic and money is just beyond low. Curse maybe be trying to generate revenue from their services, but the website is still a fan site in every regard, with discussion forums and guides for the game. I highly doubt they are making more then enough money to pay the hosting fee anyway.

  16. Curese claims on their own site to be “the largest MMO property in the U.S. ”

    A few seconds spent with Google let’s one know that their local municipality has Curse rated as a business with approximately 24 employees with an estimated annual revenue of $2 million.

    Not exactly buried in wheel barrels of cash but hardly just a fan site.

    The very fact that any revenue is generated from the Warhammer site forces GW’s hand in this matter.

  17. GW have a reputation for shutting stuff down and getting up in the grill regarding their IP. Many sites have been shutdown in the past or been served with notices due to their using their IP. There was a Blood Bowl fan-site that was not for profit, just for the fans that GW shut down, despite the fact that BB isn’t even a current or supported game, it just has a good fan following, but rather than commend the site for their work in hooking people up with a community they were still quashed.

  18. Hmm, there are some good points about the GW thing here. GW isn’t sueing Warhammer Alliance the fansite, they’re suing the commercial entity which now owns WHA and is attempting to make money off it (since that is what commercial entities do). Since WHA does not have any official license of the Warhammer IP, is essentially trying to make money illegally through the use of someone else’s intellectual property.

    Games Workshop is thus OBLIGATED to sue in order to maintain their trademarks and copyrights. Failure to do so would open the door for others to illegally use the IP, and failure to defend a trademark/copyright can result in the loss of it.

    I wish I’d read the posts before voting :p Can I retract my GW vote?

  19. As many others have said, there is a very clear and distinct difference between what most people “know” as Warhammer Alliance, and the reality of it’s entity as a member of the Curse network. Shelby aka “Garthilk” the original creator of the website started a merger with curse back in 2006 and finally sold it off in 2009. If you look at the suit that was filed, you’ll notice that GW calls out 2009 as the date of creation for the site.

    Essentially, GW and Garthilk had worked out an arangement for a disclaimer to be included on the site that would allow him to make use of all the GW logos/IP/etc… on his site. That agreement was most likely non-transferable, and followed the person.

    A good analogy someone gave was this:

    You own a car, and I allow you to park on my property. We are buds, it’s cool.

    You sell your car.

    The new owner of the car tries to park on my property, and I tell him to get the heck out, it’s not cool, strange person I am not buds with.

    The new owner gets angry because “it’s the same car”.

    Legal agreements take place between people and organizations, not objects. The second Garthilk sold the site to someone else, or ownership transfered hands, any agreement ended. Even if all of that wasn’t the case, GW in the terms of service, withold the right to remove permission at any time of their choosing.

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