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Trademarking New Game Modes


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Hi everyone I was interested in discussing the concept of trademarking a newly created game modes, like Battle Royale. I'm very keen on creating a new game mode for CSGO, and this thread is actually about how you can protect your intellectual property when it is not just a map, but a game mode. 

 

I've been waffling for years thinking about making a new map, and then it hit me that maybe what I should do instead is try to create a new game mode. Part of the reason why I think a new game mode is more interesting, is because I'm looking for a better way to monetize my creations. In the most ideal of circumstances, I want to create a "Dota" of CSGO, and then sell the game mode to Valve. 

 

I thought it would be beneficial to have a conservation about how realistic something like this can be done, assuming you create a runaway success. Assuming you created the most unbelievably popular unique game mode for CSGO, what legal options do you have to protect your creation? Can something like Dota ever happen again? 

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You can trademark the brand and if you manage to create a valuable enough IP you can make money from that, either by selling it to another company, signing licensing deals etc... (like Garry's mod, or even CS). If you create something inside CS:GO I assume Valve already owns part of it, since you are using their code, assets, etc... so even if you trademark a game mode, they own the code for the game you made the game mode for. How about booking a consultation with Cooper & Norman? They must know the answer :P 

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I mean, I think the answer is right there in your question already. Dota may be a protected brand, but MOBAs are a dime a dozen.

Or no dime a dozen, really, 'cause most of them are free to play hehe

Try reading up on Dota Autochess / Underlords, I think that's pretty much the exact story you're describing

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Dota time were different. That was a full mod. And wasn’t even a mod for a Valve game, valve acquired the IP.

I think that if you were to come up with a fantastic game mode, they could well decide to integrate it in the main game* and maybe they’d throw some money at you, or offer a job, but I don’t think you can TM something done with another company’s closed tech.

*I think flying scoutsman comes from seeing a trend in server settings? At least the type of stuff we used t to set in 1.6/source.

I would say it’s very unlikely you can base your future on such a bet. If you have an idea make it, see where it goes. Worst case scenario is something you can put in your resume/portfolio if you’re interested in a game design job. Testing in CS could be a good idea so you have lots of tools available, and if it works you can remake it into a game with Unity or UE.

PS: one thing many veterans say is that sharing the knowledge is what makes the industry great and what helps everybody.

There’s hardly any new concept today, Battle Royale already existed, in old death match games was called king of the hill… it’s just packaged differently.

Edited by blackdog
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14 hours ago, zastels said:

So what protects the IP of a video game? 

 

The Name, the Characters and trade marked words. Half Life, Gorden Freeman and Vortigaunt are all trade marked by Valve. You can not make a Half life game that is called Half Life and has characters from Half Life because those are protected by law. However, if you wanted to make a game that is basically just Half Life, nothing stops you from having a silent protagonist with nearly the same loadout of weapons go through an underground research facility in New Mexico fighting aliens and the military. That game just cant be called Half Life and cant feature any characters, fictional items or organizations from Half Life.

 

What happens in games and game modes in multiplayer games are far to nebulous a concept to be able to patent. For instance, Valve created the payload gamemode in TF2, but Overwatch used the exact same concept 6 years later and even called it payload. Valve clearly invented it first, but because pushing a thing in a game until you win is way too broad of a concept to be applicable as a trademark, they dont own the gamemode. Even the term payload is too generic to be trademarked. Even Counter Strikes defuse gamemode which is a very specific set of game rules that have to be applied a certain way to function could not be patented because it is too loose of a concept.

Edited by fewseb
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Valve didn't create payload either, it was in Wolf ET as far as I am aware its the first game with such a payload. But even then the payload rules are just marginally different and that is all that would be needed to make a patent on a gamemode worthless.

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So there isn't very much protecting a game like Counter-Strike? It has a name, but no characters and no story elements. Its success can be attributed to the quality of its make it seems. 

 

My insights from this conversation so far is that if you develop something really well that people like, the brand sort of protects and establishes itself. It's not really a legal protection sphere, like with a physical product. 

 

@fewseb isn't there protections that are extended into the files themselves? Like textures and sounds, ect? But how does it work, if I nearly replicate the AWP sound from CSGO, have I infringed? Is the limitation in redistribution and modifying only, meaning if I make it from scratch I'm off the hook?

 

I just kinda realized I'm interested in studying case laws about this sorta stuff. I guess Tetris would be a good example of not being able to totally protect a concept since I've seen so many permutations. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, zastels said:

isn't there protections that are extended into the files themselves? Like textures and sounds, ect? But how does it work, if I nearly replicate the AWP sound from CSGO, have I infringed? Is the limitation in redistribution and modifying only, meaning if I make it from scratch I'm off the hook?

Yes individual assets are protected by copyright law. However even if you near perfectly recreate an asset from scratch, that asset is still yours because you made it from scratch. Exceptions are using or recreating copyrighted logos or sounds. For instance the playstation 2 startup sound is well known, unique and made from scratch so sony was able to copyright it. So even if you recreated that sound from scratch, if you used it in as a startup sound for your console or even a menu in the game, sony could argue that you have infringed their copyright. However if you used your recreation of that sound for say a gunshot, then sony would have a harder time arguing that you have infringed their copyright. The less similar it sounds to the original and the farther away from its original use the harder it is to argue infringement.

It should be noted that sounds of generic quality, like footstep sounds and gunshot sounds are harder to claim copyright because of how common those sounds are in the real world. Even the iconic awp sound is still too generic of a sound to claim copyright. Even fictional bullet sounds made from scratch are hard to claim because they are presented in game as generic sound effects.

 

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Posted (edited)

Has everyone seen RedBull's new maps for CSGO?

 

@fewsebWould you mind elaborating on what RedBull could protect for this type of event?

What if Rockstar copied the idea almost exactly while skirting the laws, what would be RedBulls best defence? 

Edited by zastels
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15 hours ago, zastels said:

Would you mind elaborating on what RedBull could protect for this type of event?

What if Rockstar copied the idea almost exactly while skirting the laws, what would be RedBulls best defence? 

Well if they didnt have the redbull logo anywhere and made their maps from scratch and didnt call it redbull flick and recreated the game mode from scratch, not somehow reusing any scripting. There isnt really anything redbull could do. All they own is their logo, the maps (presumably) and the name Redbull Flick. If they owned the code and could some how prove that Rockstar ripped some of it to use in their own derivative version thats about the only angle they could come at. Again, you cant copyright gamerules. Say it was called Rockstar's flip tournament and its their own original maps and code with no assets from the original, then you cant legally claim its not theirs. Despite everything being identical in all by name, its still Rockstar's because they made it from scratch.

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