In every corner of the internet, dedicated fans keep their favorite online games afloat. If I ever get a pang of nostalgia for returning to Toontown, an MMO that’s been dead since 2013, there are plenty of faithful and evolved servers I can jump on. It is an integral part of our hobby. Unfortunately, it seems Atlus doesn’t love these fan revivals as much as I do.
as seen by MarshSMT on Twitter, the developer is suing two fans (operating under Rekuiemu Games and COMP_Hack) for copyright infringement over their MMO Shin Megami Tensei Imagine Online. The game’s official servers shut down in May 2016, with the revived fan server popping up sometime in late 2020. A website that Atlus says is a “blatant copy” of the original Imagine website. I was also supposedly operated by Rekuiemu. The website appears to be a major foothold for Atlus, as the lawsuit claims that Reukuiemu “falsely added his own copyright information” along with that of Atlus, Sega, and co-developer Cave Interactive.
Costume was originally filed in December 2021, but has now reached the point where both Rekuiemu and COMP_Hack are being summoned to appear in court. The lawsuit claims that the fan server “caused and will continue to cause irreparable harm to Atlus unless restrained by this Court,” even though the servers have been down for more than six years. The developer is seeking “statutory damages of up to $25,000 per DMCA violation,” plus “monetary recovery including damages suffered by Atlus in an amount not yet determined.”
It could be a big deal if Atlus wins, potentially opening the floodgates to more publishers looking for fans who are diligently preserving games that might otherwise never see the light of day again. It’s a worrying time for game preservation, and the suit alone seems to have successfully scared off a few people. ReImagine, another fan server dedicated to the MMO, issued a statement on your Discord server to announce it would also be to close your doors. “While ReImagine has not received any type of notice (to our knowledge), Atlus’ decision to sue directly rather than issue a C&D has made us concerned about the safety of the users who helped keep the game alive.
“So, it is with a heavy heart that we regret to inform everyone that the decision has been made to shut down the ReImagine server permanently.”