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Nintendo shuts down the tool behind your favorite Pokémon fan games

Nintendo shuts down the tool behind your favorite Pokémon fan games


It was good while it lasted

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Via Bulbapedia

Pokémon Essentials, the go-to creation tool for pocket monster fan games, is no longer available following a takedown notice from Nintendo. While the Japanese game developer is infamous for shutting down unofficial games, Pokémon Essentials is a unique instance where the company also shuttered the tool’s Wiki, thereby attempting to erase the information necessary to make Pokémon fan games in the first place.

While many average video game fans might have never heard of Pokémon Essentials, it was the biggest resource for making Pokémon fan games. That is to say, millions of people have played the products of Pokémon Essentials, a tool that has been downloaded by amateur game developers hundreds of thousands of times since its creation in 2007. Essentials was favored by enthusiasts because it made game creation easy by providing full tilesets, maps, music, and sprites that players can drag and drop, while also having all of Pokémon’s classic role-playing mechanics built into the interface. Fans also added to Essentials’ functionality by distributing their own custom resources.

Essentials’ ubiquity was helped by the upkeep of excellent documentation via a Wiki that could walk developers through game creation. “I cannot emphasize this enough: without Pokémon Essentials, it would have been impossible to make Pokémon Uranium, or almost any of the other Pokémon fan games that are out there,” Voluntary Twitch, the creative director behind a fan game that was downloaded over a million times, told me back in 2017.

The Pokémon fan game community has been left reeling.

According to Maruno, the last proprietor and developer of Pokémon Essentials, those days are no more. “The Pokémon Essentials Wiki, and all the downloads for Pokémon Essentials, have been deleted due to a copyright infringement claim by lawyers representing Nintendo of America,” Maruno wrote on his private Twitter account. A representative from Fandom, the company that hosted the Wiki, confirmed to The Verge that Nintendo took action.

“Fandom received a DMCA notice on behalf of Nintendo notifying us of content that was in violation of its copyright holdings,” the rep said. “After carefully assessing the violations in regards to the Pokemon Essentials wiki, we came to a decision to take it down.”

Nintendo did not provide a comment in time for publication.

The Pokémon fan game community has been left reeling, and members explicitly asked The Verge not to name them out of fear of repercussion from Nintendo. Last year, some fan game developers went underground after watching other Nintendo fan projects get threatened by legal action, and with this current turn of events, some communities are discussing how to keep a lower online profile while continuing to share their love of game creation with other like-minded people.

“The Wiki was crucial for Essentials,” one developer told The Verge. “It will likely live on in some shape or form, but many of the more organized entities are definitely going to shy away from ... building out new things for the kit.”

The developer noted that it seemed “impossible” for Nintendo to erase the tool from the internet given that many people already have it and could potentially continue to disseminate it, but the community is still in shock.

“[The shuttering of] things like Uranium, Prism, etc., all made sense because they got too big,” they said. “We’ve always known this day would come, some are surprised it took so long. But people are going to continue to make fan games, whether there’s a Wiki and support or not.”