Sign in to follow this  
faztech

Legal Issue: adapting the existing game rules

Recommended Posts

Hi guys, this is my first post as I'm now going serious about shareware game development (part-time). If I were into developing a game that has actually already existed (like monopoly, uno, bingo etc), and I want to adapt their game rules into my game, will the company who invented the games be able to sue me? Assumed that I don't name my game exactly like theirs. Cheers and thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Borrowing from the game mechanic is usually okay (i.e. halflife ripped off Quake's core shooter mechanic, without any real problems), but if you are seen as 'ripping' off the brand (i.e. Minopoly), you're asking for trouble.

Also, note that Hasbro has been very agressive about protecting it's property, so I'd be doubly worried about venturing too close to that beast's cave.

Clicky

Allan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Standard disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, so use this advice at your own risk [smile].

From my understanding, while the expression of the game rules will be protected by copyright, the actual logic behind the rules themselves will have to be protected by a patent, which is extremely rare to have for games.

Therefore, theoretically as long as your write your own adaptation of the rules, use no trademarks or copyrightable material (artwork etc.) you may be safe. However, there is a danger that you might be infringing on trademark if you make a game that is obviously trying to capitalise on the success of a brand. For example, if you make a game called "Property Collector" which is obviously Monopoly in all but name, you can bet Hasbro will send the attack lawyers after you. However, if you just wanted to have a boardgame with play money and dice, that wouldn't be close enough for it to be an issue.

In short, if you are planning on heavily adapting the game so it's clearly your own, I think you'll be safe. However, if you are just trying to make your own version of a popular trademarked game, you are likely to be in trouble.

Oh, and you should be okay with Bingo (that's centuries old), and Crazy Eights (that's the non-trademarked version of Uno using a regular deck of cards).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Provided you didn't use the same board layout, pieces, chance cards etc but just used the concept of moving around the board, buying properties and charge those who land on them then you would be OK - from a legal view point. However, if the game was too close to Monopoly then Hasbro might come after you assuming that you would back off rather than pay for a legal fight. Secondly customers are seldom overly impressed by stuff that is a direct copy. If they are going to buy Monopoly most of them will pay for the real thing.

What would work would be to take the concept and adapt it. Have a more complex map layout (simple town grid layout for example) that the players can move around. Have areas zoned for commercial/residential etc and allow players to build a variety of properties, which each have positive/negative effects. Have an AI city council which occasionally re-zones areas of the city (may be positive or negative for those owning land there) - Basically do stuff that can only be done on a computer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You can adapt pretty much any concept. Don't be too worried.

For example, take Monopoly:

You can make a game where you go around a square, buying properties and building stuff on them. You can make it so you can only make houses and hotels if you have all of the same color or theme of a property. You can charge other people for landing on your properties and more if there are properties. You can use play money, stuff like utilities, etc.

The key thing is changing the names. Use apartments and townhouses instead of houses and hotels. Use factories instead of utilities. Use architectural styles instead of colors to link properties to a theme (for monopolies). Call these collections "Consolidated Investments" instead of monopolies.

As long as the names are different, you can use core mechanics just fine.

I've seen plenty of Monopoly rip-offs (which do quite well) as board games from other companies. It's perfectly legal. As one example, take "Triopoly." It's a board game almost exactly like Monopoly. They use gas stations and skyscrapers instead of houses and hotels, and their themes are cities, not colors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by __ODIN__
Borrowing from the game mechanic is usually okay (i.e. halflife ripped off Quake's core shooter mechanic, without any real problems)...


They didn't rip off anything. They purchased the Quake and Quake II engines and got the mechancis with it. They did not use the Quake/Q2 data files though which could have been a problem (I don't know id softwares licensing terms ;-).

But they didn't borrow anything, they purchased it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Gauvir_Mucca
You can adapt pretty much any concept. Don't be too worried.

For example, take Monopoly:

You can make a game where you go around a square, buying properties and building stuff on them. You can make it so you can only make houses and hotels if you have all of the same color or theme of a property. You can charge other people for landing on your properties and more if there are properties. You can use play money, stuff like utilities, etc.

The key thing is changing the names. Use apartments and townhouses instead of houses and hotels. Use factories instead of utilities. Use architectural styles instead of colors to link properties to a theme (for monopolies). Call these collections "Consolidated Investments" instead of monopolies.

As long as the names are different, you can use core mechanics just fine.

I've seen plenty of Monopoly rip-offs (which do quite well) as board games from other companies. It's perfectly legal. As one example, take "Triopoly." It's a board game almost exactly like Monopoly. They use gas stations and skyscrapers instead of houses and hotels, and their themes are cities, not colors.

While this might be technically fine from a legal standpoint, if the game is too similar to an existing game you are strongly running the risk of having the publisher putting pressure on you (which did happen to Triopoly, according to this news item - its in the middle of the text). This is much more of a problem if you don't have a publisher of your own to provide you with legal support.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this