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The Internet was abuzz over the weekend with talk about the Games Workshop v. Warhammer Alliance lawsuit. While we might not agree with everything Curse does, it could be something of a landmark case in what sort of control developers and publishers can legally exert over their fan communities. More analysis of the lawsuit and its chances in today's Loading... Stifling a Curse.

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Not in a million years would I thought I'd be rushing to the defense of Curse. Personally speaking, I like some of the gents I've met from their network over the years, but aside from UI addons for WoW and WAR (which is their bread and butter, as Annache pointed out in the epic forum thread below) and speaking only of editorial policy and industry relations, Ten Ton Hammer and Curse are at opposite extremes. We usually cooperate with the wishes of devs and publishers except when said devs and publishers show bad faith - one of our core tenets is that players and devs might have our disagreements, but in the end we're on the same team. Curse, however, has a history of walking the edge a bit, arousing developer ire over posting dubious translations of patch notes and other perception-shaping info for Aion and Final Fantasy XIV.

Nothing about Warhammer Online could be lost in translation, of course, but being primarily a forums-driven site, the tone of the site has trended toward negativity since the game's launch in 2008. My feeling is that the powers that be at Games Workshop feel that Warhammer Alliance has outlived it's usefulness. Coupled with the general feeling that WAR hasn't lived up to its financial expectations (to put it mildly), perhaps GW thinks that taking the extraordinary step of suing a fansite will help recompense their apparent losses.

It's a bold move, but an ill-considered one, I think, and it illustrates in a nutshell why Games Workshop has had such trouble transitioning to the new economy. Don't get me wrong: a trip to any fan convention will show you that tabletop gaming is far from dead and miniature painting is not a dead art, but neither is what you'd cally a growth industry. My own mini-obsession used to be Axis and Allies miniatures, and I remembered staring dumbly at a hobby shop owner that suggested I drop my A&A minis in drano, then repaint them. Painting is at once relaxing, tedious, and frustrating, but most importantly it takes time, and the core enjoyment for me is the game. No one in my circle of friends would appreciate the Afrika Korps paint scheme I'd applied to my Tigers or invasion strips I'd put on my P-51D Mustangs, they'd think I was weaker for not using the little time I have for such pursuits to think of creative 100-point builds and new strategies. It's all about how you play.

I know things are a little different in the Warhammer world, but it's hard to imagine that the pageantry surrounding tabletop gaming has benefitted from this braver, faster, more achievement-oriented gaming world we've created for ourselves. Yet GW still clings to old economy moneymaking tactics. Gone are the days when you can pay your employees in bits and discounts on models to teach painting (well, you can, but unless you're reporting it as equivalent income, the IRS might want a word). And while you might still succeed in courtroom bullying, you'll probably lose in the courtroom of public opinion. The Warhammer Fantasy IP (can I say Warhammer without being sued?) will never go mainstream so long as GW sits on it like a dragon on its treasure horde.

This lawsuit won't fly. Running a fansite or network at scale these days isn't easy, nor does it come cheap. CNN, Bloomberg, and Fox News makes tons of money off of what's happening in the world, Facebook makes tons of money from what's going on in your life, and Curse and Ten Ton Hammer can and should be able to make money about what's going on in the games we cover. And (by the way) should be able to say whatever we can prove about a game. Moreover, GW should be grateful for the attention, positive or negative, they've received from fan networks instead of biting the hand that feeds them.

I know we have some Warhammer tabletop types in the audience, what's your take? Is GW to WAR what LucasArts was to Star Wars Galaxies? Do you ever foresee a 40k MMORPG given how things have gone for WAR? Share your take in the Loading... forum, or for more discussion of the case, take it to today's epic thread!

Shayalyn's Epic Thread of
the Day

From our WAR: News & Announcements forum

Games Workshop vs. Warhammer Alliance

ended last week with a strange news story from the Warhammer Online
front. Games Workshop filed suit against the Curse network for its WAR
fansite, Warhammer Alliance, citing trademark infringement,
cybersquatting (on the domain name), dilution and unfair competition.
Does Games Workshop have a case? Join the conversation.


Awesome Quotes from the
Epic Thread

thing is the response from the community. [Warhammer Alliance] fans are
all pissy about it, but a lot of others are anti-Curse and want to see
them get kicked in da jibblies.

- Annatar

Have you spotted an Epic Thread on our forums? Tell

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Jeff joined the Ten Ton Hammer team in 2004 covering EverQuest II, and he's had his hands on just about every PC online and multiplayer game he could since.