Fan games with Pokemon characters


dabbling in game design
I've seen plenty of fan games that use Pokemon pictures, sounds, sprites, etc., but I also know that it is technically trademark infringement, and that's illegal, but is it kind of okay as long as fans do it and post in places like here or are we taking a real risk by making games?

I might like to use my RPG Maker and Essentials setup to make an original Pokemon fan game, but I don't want to do something illegal and have it come back to bite me later. Any suggestions? Are the creations made during things like game jams allowable under Fair Use?


Twitter: @RaVeN_1515
The problem is even if you made all of the assets yourself, but used any likeness, you could be shut down. (Like if you made custom mew sprites)

Essentials itself had some issues with it too I believe. Now you could probably get away with using their combat and catching mechanics though. I'm pretty sure it's been done with an official Rick and Morty game or something.

I do not know for sure, but I've heard that some Pokemon MMOs stick around because they're "not complete". They always have beta in the title. I don't know if that's a thing or not.

At the end of the day though. Let's say you complete and release a Pokemon game. If they cease and desist you, you take down your upload. But by then if it's uploaded by anyone else it's out of your control.

I believe the biggest issue they have with it is money. If you sell your game, or have micro-transactions, then I'm positive you'll be contacted. If you make a popular game, even free, they'll probably want it down so that it doesn't affect their sales.

At the end of the day. I'd suggest doing what you want. You can release it and take it down if contacted, but it'll still be around surely, since someone else would upload it anyways.


Starry eyed
Nah, if you're using Essentials then you're using Pokemon assets and trademarks, that's not fair use. If you took Essentials and gutted every asset and mention of Pokemon, well...technically I think you'd be in the clear because it's made from scratch, but Essentials can't be used for profit iirc so the time investment to build an original game off of it probably isn't worth it. Technically all forms of fan art are some form of copyright/trademark violation, but most rights holders are aware enough that slapping down fans is a great way to lose goodwill.

If you're worried about getting into legal trouble, it's very unlikely to happen. The number of Pokemon games officially taken down is pretty small (this includes Uranium, Evoas, Prism, Fusion Generation and a couple others, there was at one point a sweeping removal of a bunch of Nintendo fan games posted on GameJolt, but no individual games were targeted or pursued) and typically the legal action is just a takedown notice with a request to stop development. The devs who've had this happen all seem to be doing fine and many continue in game development, just typically not fan games.

If you want to try using fair use or parody law to protect yourself...I recommend don't. It's not really the same as making a fan game. PETA's Pokemon Black&Blue is able to count as a parody because the main purpose of it is as a commentary and critique on the Pokemon series, making a fan game that pokes fun at or diverts Pokemon tropes isn't gonna be good enough to hold a legal argument, parody and fair use are hard enough to argue even in the best cases.


What if someone just copies a few scripts of Essentials and removes every mention and relation to pokemon given proper credit to the Essentials team?


Have they found the One Piece yet
The quickest IANAL of "fair use" I know is "it's a 'defense,' which means if you're making your argument, you're already in a courthouse," so try not to resort to that.

Pokémon fan games have always been and will always be a gray area at best, but unless you seriously rock the boat you can fly under the radar fairly easily. Try not to rock the boat.

What if someone just copies a few scripts of Essentials and removes every mention and relation to pokemon given proper credit to the Essentials team?
Do you mean for a commercial game? That I don't know, you'd have to ask Maruno. My guess is "no."


Pokémon Essentials dev
Essentials Developer
What if someone just copies a few scripts of Essentials and removes every mention and relation to pokemon given proper credit to the Essentials team?
No. Essentials can't be used for profit in whole or in part. And just so we're clear, "for profit" means "making money at all", not necessarily "making more money than you spend on it".