In multiple forum posts and during several AU Community Meetups, I’ve seen a lot of feedback from AU community members wanting to see certain copyrighted content in Atom Universe in the form of virtual items such as clothing or even complete avatars/characters from certain movies or video games. For example, I’ve seen many requests for Star Wars or Star Trek characters to be available in the game similar to how we saw some in PlayStation Home. As I’m sure you know, because such content is copyrighted it would require certain licenses to create. Content that “resembles” copyrighted content can be created without acquiring such licenses if slight changes are made that would differentiate it from the actual copyrighted content as well as referring to the content using names other than the copyrighted names. Atom Republic actually used such methods when they created dance moves for PS Home (as LMOs) that were similar to copyrighted dances. For example, they re-created the world famous dance from Michael Jackson’s music video for his platinum hit Thriller:
but called it “Zombie Choreography” instead of something like “Michael Jackson’s Thriller Dance” as seen in this video from Atom Republic for their 80s Dance Moves they created for PlayStation Home:
Consequently, Atom Republic was able to avoid any copyright infringement while still providing a dance for PS Home users which resembled that of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. For certain kinds of copyrighted content it may be preferred or even required to obtain the necessary licenses to create such content for a game like Atom Universe. Such licenses are typically expensive and time consuming to acquire. To avoid these costs, one strategy Atom Republic could implore is to partner with 3rd party development studios that already have such licenses and have them generate that content for Atom Universe.
In February 2010 LucasArts opened its “Lucas Films” store in PlayStation Home which could be seen at the PlayStation Home “Mall”:
You could purchase many Star Wars virtual items such as t-shirts, lightsabers and full avatars or costumes:
In August 2010 LucasArts released the Mos Eisley cantina on PlayStation Home as seen in these pics:
and this video:
Many new avatars and costumes were releases as well, including female versions of C-3PO and a AT-AT Pilot:
Sony PlayStation is a large corporation with many contacts and thus negotiating a deal with LucasArts to create this copyrighted content in PlayStation Home was not difficult, especially given LucasArts had created games for the PlayStation console. In comparison, Atom Republic is of course a small indie studio which doesn’t have such relationships which would enable them to negotiate such deals.
and these pics:
With Flashman Studios’s long relationship with CBS and some experience with avatars, they were was able to successfully negotiated a license and released the aforementioned Star Trek content for PlayStation Home. So the thought was that Atom Republic could possibly partner with Flashman Studios to have them create remastered versions of that Star Trek content for Atom Universe. I got a chance to talk about this with Tim Lewis, Director of Brand Services for Flashman Studios. First I asked about the status of the licenses they had acquired for Star Trek content to see if they could be leverage them for creating similar content for Atom Universe. Unfortunately, Tim said: “Since PS Home was shut down we let the licenses we had for properties such as Star Trek and Star Wars expire. We have no plans to reactivate those licenses at this time, but let’s touch base again after Atom Universe launches and we can discuss whether there’s an opportunity to bring some branded content into the game.” Flashman Studios is currently involved in the development of games such as Riptide GP. Knowing that Flashman Studios had been using predominantly Unity 3D for game development and that Atom Universe is being developed using Unreal Engine, I asked Tim if they had any experience with UE4 to which he responded: “We have a couple of client studios who have used the engine for game projects and they are certainly capable of creating branded content for Atom Universe. Whether or not they’ll be interested in doing that will depend of course on how AU does in the market.” I’m confident that Atom Universe will be successful after it launches so I’m sure there will be an opportunity for Flashman Studios to create content for Atom Universe in the future! Flashman Studios wishes to keep in touch and so we will see what happens. In absence of the required licenses to create exact replicas of well known copyrighted content for the game, Atom Republic developers can still get inspiration from such copyrighted content to create their own for Atom Universe and use the previously described methods for avoiding copyright infringement. This will most likely be the approach until either the required licenses are explicitly obtained or partnerships are formed with companies that have already acquired such licenses.
The above article was written exclusively for J.F.C & The Virtual Community