Saturday, May 8, 2010
If you've ever played Warhamer tabletop or computer games, you've probably visited Warhammer- Alliance.com. It's the ultimate fan site for the Warhammer series of titles, owned by Games Workshop. Fans gather at Warhammer Alliance, on its busy forums, to discuss the IP's titles, share mods, post about strategies, and so on.
If you owned a franchise, would you be grateful for such fostering of your brand, or would you sue the bejeezus out of the site for various reasons including copyright violation? That's exactly what Games Workshop is doing to Warrhammer Alliance. The complaint (PDF) is ridiculous, and, in my opinion, looks to be a money-grab more than anything else. From the complaint (thanks to McKnight at Quarter to Three for pointing this out):
22. Defendants' website at the URL warhammeralliance.com displays HTML links featuring banner advertisements, and, upon information and belief, when Internet users click on one or more of the displayed HTML advertisements at the warhammeralliance.com website, Defendants receive payment from one or more advertisers, search engines, or affiliate programs.
Here's a tangent. You may have read of my fandom of Elliott Smith. When he found a Website promoting his music called Sweet Adeline, named after a song on his album XO, he contacted the sites administration and asked for it to be his official site. That, my friends, is embracing your fans.
By "embracing" I mean "not crapping on" your fans, which is exactly what Games Workshop is doing. According to the post linked above, the complaint mentions "trademark infringement, cybersquatting (on the domain name), dilution and unfair competition." I'm sorry--I didn't know that by dedicating your time and your life to promoting someone's product, you were harming the product. That's new to me.
There's no shortage of stupidity and fan alienation in the games industry (see, for instance, Ubisoft DRM). I played a bunch of Warhammer Online (am I allowed to say that?), until I realized that if I continued I'd never get any work done. I've also played most of the standalone Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 PC and even PSP titles.
I'm uninstalling them now.
I'm trading in my copy of the PSP's Warhammer 40,000 Squad Command game. Unless this lawsuit is dropped, I'll never drop another dime on product from Games Workshop.
I hope all the denizens of Warhammer Alliance follow suit. There are plenty of tabletop and PC strategy games, and, as of now, they're all superior alternatives to anything bearing the Warhammer logo.