The Risk Of Mash-ups
It’s interesting to see how jarring old-world business behaviour is in the new world of blogs, remixing, mashing and market conversations. But I guess it’s also a reminder that the durability of the new world is not to be taken for granted. The latest episode, from Slashdot is this: RISK on Google Maps Shut Down:
Hasbro owns the copyrights for the game of Risk, as the guy who wrote the google maps based Risk found out. This was featured on slashdot earlier. However, he does not seem too discouraged and asks people to submit ideas for other games using google maps that will not have such legal wrangles.” One thing this reminded me of is how cool Risk is. My office is now in its 3rd round… Africa will be mine!
The funny thing about all this, as One Tusk.com points out, creating the mash-up (using Google Maps for an online Risk-style game) was great publicity for the game itself:
As a result, he reminded everybody that there was a game called Risk and everyone had a great moment of nostalgia for board games as they paused from salivating over the next console game. But of course, we can’t have everyday people out getting people interested in our games–Hasbro’s probably gotten more play out of this than any advertising they cooked up themselves.
Hasbro, therefore, would have been much better advised to have considered the situation before leaping for their lawyers. Hasbro has made several variations on the classic board game: one Lord of the Rings version, one set in 2210 AD and one Star Wars version. There are two software versions, I and II. The latter was issued in 2000, a generation ago in gaming terms. Why didn’t they talk with the guy involved, thank him for reviving a near-dead brand, and either hire him or quietly tell him that by calling it something else, or a ‘Risk-like game’, he could keep going?
After all, there are several games out there that describe themselves as “Risk-like”, and, as far as I know they’ve not received any legal letters. There’s Attack! (which carefully only hints at its Risk-like nature), Mare Nostrum, Quest for the Dragon Lords and Empire XP (which decsribes itself as ‘a Windows version of the classic Risk board game’.) (More on Risk, and all the Risk clones, at Wikipedia.) All this makes the heavy-handedness even harder to understand.