Saturday, August 19, 2006

How the Game Industry Treats Freeware Programmers

A long long time ago, two years to be exact, I discovered a cool little program called MtG Editor, a free program that lets you create your own Magic the Gathering (a popular trading card game) cards. I played around with it for a while and promptly forgot about it. Now, two years later, Magic is inexplicably becoming popular again in my school (well, it's the summer actually - let me rephrase that: "Magic inexplicably became popular again in my school last year"), and some of my friends remembered about MtG Editor and asked me if I could find it again. Well, I did a Google search and went to the MtG Editor website. Once there, I saw a huge box containing an email from Wizards of the Coast (publisher of Magic) and explaining that MtG Editor has been taken off, for copyright reasons.

Several thoughts come to mind. First off, a developer comes along and makes a program that lets you create your own custom cards, in effect contributing to Magic's popularity, by making something that Wizards should have made in the first place. What happens? It gets labelled "illegal" by the very people who should be grateful! Funny thing now, The Wizards of the Coast forums actually have a "Create Your Own Card" section, which remains one of their most popular forums. Question - how are the good folks on the forums supposed to "create their own cards"? Answer - they can't! Wizards has removed a portion of their own community.

Another thought springs to mind - about Wizards' own inefficiency. It took them three years to discover a program that was used and advertised on their own forums! If it takes them this long to find something right under their noses, I dread to think about their future, and of the future of Hasbro (the company that bought Wizards).

Oh, and one more thing: check this out! It's a program called CCG Maker, which does exactly the same thing that MtG Editor does, the only exception being that it's not free - the full version costs $10. Now, CCG Maker has been curiously exempt from the copyright laws that govern MtG Editor. Some asking around reveals that this is either 1) CCG Maker, although using Wizards' layout, uses it's own symbols, rather than copying Magic's, as MtG Editor does, or 2) Wizards simply hasn't discovered CCG Maker yet. Given Wizards' track record, I'd go with the second. But as for the first ... what's worse, copying five little symbols , or copying the entire card layout? Wizards seems to think the first is.

Is anyone else outraged by this??? If so, voice your complaints directly to the people responsible - email Wizards of the Coast! Perhaps if they recieve enough emails ... Also, please comment here if you agree with me!

1 comment:

Stanley said...

There's a rumor that the MtG installer still exists somewhere on the Limewire shared network... not sure if this is true, but I'll check when i get home.