If you've been following the saga between Kickstarter MMO Magic to Master and MMO publisher Gameforge, it just took another turn. Laniatus, the team behind the Kickstarter has announced they've initiated legal actions against Gameforge to fight back against the DMCA takedown taken against the Kickstarter earlier this month.
A quick recap, if you need:
Earlier this month, Magic to Master got on many MMO players' radars not because of the quality of their MMO or Kickstarter campaign, but rather its use of false and misleading "testimonial reviews" attributed to outlets like ours, MassivelyOP, and others. None of these outlets actually wrote those "testimonial reviews," which were pulled once the news stories started filing in about them. The company maintains these were a test, a "placeholder" for a feature on the Kickstarter that should never have gone live (though even a month later I wonder if they'd still be there if none of us had noticed).
MMO Youtuber Callum Upton created a video talking about the Kickstarter itself (and not actually any of the drama surrounding it), only to have Laniatus LLC issue a copyright strike against his channel, threaten legal action against Callum demanding the video be pulled down. The video is live once again, with Laniatus withdrawing the DMCA claim (while admitting that the strike was baseless in the process).
However, the video (and Magic to Master's reaction to it) brought on the attention of MMORPG publisher Gameforge, the publishers of the MMORPG Metin2. It seems Magic to Master bears a striking resemblance to the MMORPG having started life as Metin2 private server in the past, and Gameforge issued a DMCA against Laniatus and their Kickstarter, effectively shutting it all down. The DMCA notice states that Magic to Master is using "the Metin2 game engine and pretends them to bei their own product. Members of their team have been associated with Gameforge in the past, legal actions against these persons are already on their way. We - Gameforge - are not related to this infringement nor accept illegal activities associated with it."
Fast forward to today where the Laniatus team has posted to its own Discord server and website, stating that they are countering the DMCA with their own legal action, calling the claims from Gameforge "false allegations" and "intentional misrepresentations."
Claiming that they made the decision to suspend their activities in accordance with the "legal requirements" surrounding the DMCA takedown of the Kickstarter and Magic to Master YouTube channel, they have since been "unequivocally informed" that the allegations against their game and company "have infringed" on their rights and "misrepresented" their brand.
"This malicious company continues to fabricate unfounded claims and engage in baseless accusations. Nevertheless, Laniatus LLC stands firm in its resolve to fight back against such false allegations and intentional misrepresentations. We have immediately initiated legal action to protect our corporate identity and hold accountable the individuals responsible for these violations."
Curiously, the company makes a statement in their "counter-notifications" that there isn't a single person at the studio without a "vision."
Not sure what that means, legally speaking.
More curiously, they immediately state that their stance against "allowing falsehoods and misrepresentations is resolute and unwavering," despite launching a Kickstarter with false and misleading "testimonial reviews" and only pulling them when they were caught.
Despite the counter-claim, Laniatus states that when they regain access to their Kickstarter once again they will not be relaunching their Kickstarter. The reason?
"This decision reflects our commitment to protecting the interests and trust of our community of supporters."
Interestingly, the company also took to this announcement to state they have entered into a partnership with AIIO, a company that a quick glance at the website asks more questions than it answers. Stating it is "the world's most competent Artificial Intelligence and data processing company," Laniatus states this partnership will add to its own capabilities in the field.
However, even a cursory look makes that claim seem baseless, as AIIO seems to have only been founded this month, according to owner Saygin Yuksel's linked LinkedIn profile. A look at the official website shows a barebones page whose service offerings redirect you to a What's App page instead of actual service descriptions.
Laniatus also states that they have received multiple requests to acquire the "publishing rights" to Magic to Master and that it was pursuing these "potential partners."
Finally, the post ends with a statement that they will be giving 1000 players the chance to "experience" their game, with more details coming. However, exactly when (and how you can sign up should you want to do so) isn't clear.
We have reached out to Gameforge for comment on the counterclaim and will follow up here with their response should they provide one on the record.