In late April, MetaGravity Studio coined a set of “playable” NFTs called retro arcade collection. The problem? MetaGravity does not own the rights to some of the games it was auctioning.
Stop reports that the rights to games like Blizzard’s Blackthorne and Remedy’s Death Rally still belong to their respective developers, who never authorized MetaGravity to turn them into NFTs.
MetaGravity CEO Rashin Mansoor said in a statement to Waypoint that the games the team chose for their collection were “primarily freeware and, in some cases, game demos”. MetaGravity claims that its intention is to “preserve abandonware” in the way that “many abandonware sites are doing”.
The big difference, of course, is that MetaGravity was selling the games as NFTs. Even sites that offer so-called “abandonware” for free aren’t necessarily clear in terms of copyright, but the “abandoned” aspect means no one really cares if they aren’t charging you money for them. Freeware software is not necessarily copyright-free just because it is free, while abandonware is unsupported software whose copyright status may be unknown.
Larry Kuperman of Nightdive Studios said it best: “If you keep your car in the garage too long, I can’t just take it.” Just because Konami hasn’t done anything with Suikoden in over 20 years doesn’t mean I can go ahead and make more Suikoden games or sell them on the blockchain without permission. Also, Konami: make more Suikoden games.
MetaGravity told Waypoint that it “has removed all games and changed NFTs now to create passes for our next NFT native retro game”. So if you bought an NFT that was one of the retro games that MetaGravity didn’t have, it’s no longer playable.
MetaGravity has finally removed the offending NFTs from its OpenSea page and is focusing on original projects like edge of chaosa play-2-win MMO that looks heavily inspired by Warcraftand Retro Arcade 2.0, both blockchain games.
Mansoor didn’t seem too upset by the chain of events, claiming that the purpose of this NFT collection “experiment” was to preserve abandonware games on the blockchain. “We’ve proved the point of the technical demo and will focus our efforts on the next phase of technological innovation for playable machine code NFTs,” he said.
Perhaps the lesson to be learned here is to review copyright law before deciding to build games on the blockchain.