Former Pokemon Chief Laywer Explains Why Nintendo Targets Fan Projects

Fan projects getting press and fundraising can be a death sentence for them.

Story Highlights

  • A former chief lawyer of the Pokemon company has explained why Nintendo sues fan projects.
  • He claims that a fan game getting press is how the publisher finds them, causing it to come under scrutiny.
  • The company only targets a project if it is being funded by others in any way.

During an interview with Aftermath, the former chief lawyer of the Pokemon Company, Don McGowan, explained what compels Nintendo to go after fan games. He mentions that fan projects are often discovered by them getting press online, which brings them under the rough scrutiny of the publisher. However, the legal team silently observes and does not take any action yet. 

Short answer: thanks to you folks. I would be sitting in my office minding my own business when someone from the company would send me a link to a news article, or I would stumble across it myself. […] The worst thing on earth is when your ‘fan’ project gets press, because now I know about you.”

Fan Projects Getting Funded Is What Compels Nintendo To Strike Them

The former Pokemon lawyer explains that Nintendo only pursues legal action against a fan game if it starts getting funded. That is when the legal engagement starts and the cease-and-desist letters are issued. Don admits that “no one likes suing fans,” so it is not something that the publisher wants.

But that’s not the end of the equation. You don’t send a takedown right away. You wait to see if they get funded (for a Kickstarter or similar); if they get funded then that’s when you engage. No one likes suing fans.”

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All in all, Nintendo walks on a thin line when it comes to fan projects—especially those that seek to earn from the company’s intellectual properties in any shape or form. So, removing any sort of funding or monetary gain from fan-made games is paramount.

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Shameer Sarfaraz is a Senior News Writer on eXputer who loves to keep up with the gaming and entertainment industries devoutly. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science and several years of experience reporting on games. Besides his passion for breaking news stories, Shahmeer loves spending his leisure time farming away in Stardew Valley. VGC, IGN, GameSpot, Game Rant, TheGamer, GamingBolt, The Verge, NME, Metro, Dot Esports, GameByte, Kotaku Australia, PC Gamer, and more have cited his articles.

Experience: 4+ Years || Education: Bachelor in Computer Science.

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