NCsoft and Marvel make nice

Companies settle all lawsuits, City of Heroes and Villains character creation remains unchanged.

NCsoft reports today that it has settled all legal claims with Marvel Entertainment, allowing its popular comic-inspired massively multiplayer online role-playing games to continue operations unfettered and avoiding a court decision with potentially wide-reaching implications.

Last fall, Marvel sued publisher NCsoft and developer Cryptic Studios, claiming the pair's highly successful City of Heroes MMORPG allowed players to create characters so close to Marvel properties that they constituted copyright infringement. NCsoft scored a partial victory in March, when a judge threw out many of Marvel's complaints. Terms of the settlement weren't disclosed, but NCsoft has said the character creation used in City of Heroes and the recently released City of Villains will not be changed as a result.

"The parties have agreed that protecting intellectual property rights is critically important and each will continue aggressively to protect such rights in accordance with all applicable laws," NCsoft said in a statement. "While the terms of the settlement were not disclosed, all parties agree that this case was never about monetary issues and that the fans of their respective products and characters are the winners in this settlement."

When news of the suit first broke last November, the Associated Press reported it as the first time any game maker had been sued over user-created, in-game content. Had Marvel won, it could have set a legal precedent that would hold developers and publishers responsible for player-created content. That in turn could have led to a drastic reduction of creative in-game options for gamers. With the settlement, that dilemma is avoided for the time being.

While the legal wranglings seems to be over with, the battle may soon be rekindled and expanded in the retail arena. In July, Marvel announced a deal with Microsoft to make an Xbox 360-exclusive MMO based on its universe of characters. The month before, Sony Online Entertainment snagged the rights to develop an MMO based on the heroes of Marvel's biggest competitor, DC Comics.

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26 comments
GaussGoat
GaussGoat

This is a big win for gamers everywhere, and something that the two companies should also be proud of. It's good to see that they were able to work through the issue without impacting the player community involved, and the creative rights of players were held as important. Marvel can be very aggressive pursuing their interests, so I'm very pleased to see them reaching an agreement on this issue. Here's hoping their own game is as fun as CoH turned out to be.

lilweightlifter
lilweightlifter

DC vs. Marvel.......PS vs. XBOX.......can't we all just get along?

chrisdojo
chrisdojo

games + comics = mediocre games

amogley
amogley

I don't play CoH or CoV, nor do I read any of the comics (Marvel, DC etc). What really concerned me was the potential result that the manufacturers would be responsible for user created content. This would have had a dramatic effect on the modding community, and I see the modding community as an important contributor to the games industry. Not only do mods add to the games, and lets face it CS and DoD were both pure conversions done by the community, but they also give people the chance to put a portfolio together allowing them to get a foot in the door of the gaming industry. Luckily the decision went the right way ;)

ChasinFury
ChasinFury

Havok4489 sorry to dispute you BUT Diamond does not own Marvel or DC...DC is owned almost wholly I believe by Warner Brothers while Marvel is its own beast. So the news release didnt clear up whether those who have similar characters are still going to be policed or not... cause if they are then marvel did win.... now im confused....

fluffballNo1
fluffballNo1

Swampthing have you even played CoH or CoV? If you have a character that you create in homage or for satire, or just because you think Wolverine is "Teh c00lz0rz!" you find yourself in violation of the EULA. Normally characters can get into the mid-to-high levels before they are reported. When your character is reported their appearance is reset to default and their name is changed to GenericHero(villain)12301 or some other random number along with any other clones you have on that account. It's very strongly policed and extends beyond comics to even things like toys. Cryptic and NC never once claimed that they deserved the right to make the trademarked characters of other games, rather they argued that they aren't responsible for user created content. Which is the exact same thing that oh people like automobile, gun, alcohol, and even tobacco producers have been claiming for years. Marvel was the losing party entirely in this case, they alienated a very large part of their fan base, and if they had won would have opened themselves up for retaliatory lawsuits once their game was published.

gameloverx
gameloverx

i know why its because Marvel doesn't want to lose the're properties

NeoJedi
NeoJedi

Good thing Marvel didn't win this case, wouldn't wanna see the beginning of the end of user-created material in games.

stiker71
stiker71

dalriders i wonder how diffrent the marvel mmo will be from city of heroes i bet its gona stink cause unless they get DC and all those other people everyone will have the same chars

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

It's nice to see they were able to work things out.

havoc4489
havoc4489

OK having worked in the comic industry I remember when Diamond Distribution who owns DC bought Marvel. Does it matter that one is on PS and one is on Xbox?

khellendros1
khellendros1

Well that's great. I'm a fan of Sony's machine but I'm not a fan of DC. So I guess I'll have to stick with City of Heroes. As for the lawsuit, did Marvel expect NCsoft to limit the power combinations a player can pick? For example, if your character controls the weather he or she can't fly (ie:Storm). They're crazy.

blackIceJoe
blackIceJoe

How can you say Batman is bad it is the big seller even more then Marvel but one comic is not that good when you look at marvel. Marvel even knows Batman is awesome but in the end DC falls short of having better Comics but Batman is a Legend

Igiss
Igiss

NCsoft has a strong MMORPG lineup and it's fine that they could handle this without restricting... oh, wait, they did restrict character changing according to Swampthing. I still think that Marvel was wrong in this situation, sounds like sueing for wearing costumes of superheroes in real life.

Swampthing
Swampthing

Here's what's wrong with this picture... NCSoft's entire argument that it will not restrict the character creation process is a crock of bull. They sent letters to everyone who had a character barely resembling any trademarked character and forced them to change that particular clothing piece and/or name. On the one hand, NCSoft were beating their collective chests in court saying that this should not be changed, and on the other hand they were hounding their users to change their characters. NCSoft lost big marks for this one...

ewjim
ewjim

It's did't matter for me, because i will not play in MMORPG on consoles... OR PC... :)

cypher50
cypher50

Thrallia, you have X-Men Legends I & II, Marvel vs. Capcom, the Spider-Man games...yes, Thrallia, there are good games based on comics.

Thrallia
Thrallia

seriously...are games based on comics ever very good?

macmaster1
macmaster1

So the war beggins sony vs. microsoft, DC comics vs. marvel. An interesting combination that might produce some worthy games.

forever_blank
forever_blank

Ok... More lawsuits, or less, whatever is your outlook on life

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

At least the lawsuit's not going to hang over gamers' heads. I'd hate to see modding destroyed because of the threat of such frivolity.

Drevan
Drevan

Sony snagged DC comics... honestly, does anyone care about DC comics? I mean, they have Batman and Superman, neither of which are all that interesting.

Drevan
Drevan

Sony snagged DC comics... honestly, does anyone care about DC comics? I mean, they have Batman and Superman, neither of which are all that interesting.

LordOfMidnight
LordOfMidnight

That whole pi$$ing contest and now they sit down and come to an agreement. What a waste of energy.

dalriders
dalriders

i wonder how diffrent the marvel mmo will be from city of heroes

Caine01
Caine01

This brings the console wars to a whole new level.