Nintendo has a long history of using legal action to take down fan games based on its popular copyrighted franchises. Now the company is taking aim at one of the tools used to build some of those fan games.
Since 2007, Pokémon Essentials has been a crucial part of the Pokémon fan game community. As a free mod for the paid RPG Maker software, Pokémon Essentials offers all the graphics, music, maps, and tilesets a fan game maker needs to craft their own Poké-adventure.
Fans of the tool congregated around the PokeCommunity forums and a dedicated Pokémon Essentials wiki to download files, share creations, and discuss the scene. Earlier this week, however, PokéCommunity forum moderator Marin announced that “the Pokémon Essentials wikia and all downloads for it have been taken down due to a copyright claim by Nintendo of America.” That means “we will not allow Pokémon Essentials or any of its assets to be hosted or distributed on PokéCommunity,” the announcement reads. “We sincerely apologise that we have to do this, but there is no going around it.”
A representative for Fandom, the company that hosts the wiki, confirmed to the Verge that it had “received a DMCA notice on behalf of Nintendo notifying us of content that was in violation of its copyright holdings. After carefully assessing the violations in regards to the Pokémon Essentials wiki, we came to a decision to take it down.”
Pokémon Essentials was used to build Pokémon Uranium, a fan game that received a reported 1.5 million downloads before being shut down by Nintendo. The title was later locked out of consideration at The Game Awards after initially being listed among the nominees in the Best Fan Creation category.
Marin asks that PokéCommunity members “please don’t freak out about the claim, and there’s no reason to get angry with Nintendo or anyone else involved. It doesn’t need to be a bigger deal than it should be.” But not everyone is taking that advice.
“This is disgusting. It’s unfortunate that copyright trolls can take down years of volunteer work so easily,” PokéCommunity poster 00.Archer wrote on the forum. “Nintendo may have taken down the wiki, but I believe PE will rise again,” user Soccersam added. “It’s not like we’re making money out of it! It is a non-profit program, purely for entertainment purpose [sic]!”
The files behind Pokémon Essentials will continue to float around the Internet despite the takedown, and new fan games made with the tool will surely continue to be released. But Nintendo’s DMCA move against these central sites for the community shows a new level of zealousness in the company’s fight with online fan game makers.