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Some of the most talked about games of the year weren't official releases; they were fan-made games released for free, such as Another Metroid 2 Remake. But despite the praise and popularity of these titles, they won't be at the 2016 Game Awards. Geoff Keighley explains, saying:
Executive producer of The Game Awards, Geoff Keighley talked about why two entries on the ballot for the category of "Best Fan Game" were pulled, Another Metroid 2 Remake and Pokemon Uranium. Nintendo Everything transcribed Keighley's comments made on a Twitch stream this past week in order to promote the 2016 Game Awards, where he said:
I think the big challenge that we face as a show is that everything in the show has to be legally cleared by the game companies in question. So one of the things that we go through is this clearance process where we have to get basically rights from everyone that owns the IPs of the games, but we don't tell those companies in advance who's nominated, and we find out together. It became clear once we announced the nominees that we weren't going to be able to get clearance on those games from Nintendo, understandably so, it's Nintendo IP, they're trying to protect their IP, and those creators had sort of taken those games down. So from a show perspective, those games had been I think issued take downs, and if we include those in the show, then the show is potentially at risk for take down as well.
It's a fair point, and also showcases the current state of affairs in gaming when it comes to fair use. A lot of fan projects made for free don't always use the trademark names and images of Nintendo properties, but come pretty close. In the case of Pokemon Uranium and Another Metroid 2 Remake, they did actually use the names and custom images based on Nintendo's properties, so they were quickly killed off the net.
In the case of Another Metroid 2 Remake, the reality is that the game came out this year as part of the 30th anniversary of the Metroid series. A lot of fans were hoping that Nintendo had something special planned for the series, but all they received instead was Metroid Prime: Federation Force for the Nintendo 3DS, which was seen by the gaming community as a cheap knockoff since it didn't even feature Samus or have anything to do with the original series' story.
The fan projects were designed to celebrate gaming, but Nintendo has always been very protective of their properties. Geoff Keighley still has hope, though. He wants to find some middle ground where giving these kind of projects recognition without getting hit with a copyright strike would be possible, saying,
I think the fan creations are amazing things that fans do, and I hope that game companies and fans find ways to continue to create that content, and I would like nothing more than those creators and Nintendo to figure out a way to collaborate on content, but from a show perspective, it's a bummer because I think those things are amazing efforts from fans, they created it, but at the end of the day, they are illegal use of IP and different game companies have different approaches to that... I think fan creations for me, we have to make sure those creations are legal creations or at least creations that are not subject to take down to be in the show. It was a bummer to see that happen, but it was something that unfortunately from a show perspective we had to remove them because we couldn't obtain the clearance.
Granting limited time just to acknowledge these games seems like something the companies would at least allow. However, Nintendo probably doesn't want to open that pathway up for others to imitate. It's likely easier for them to just keep the banhammer ready whenever a fan-made project pops up so they can just squash it and not have to deal with the legal hoops of allowing some projects while coming down hard on others. A zero tolerance policy is how they usually operate.