Fan-made game Doom: The Roguelike is facing potential legal issues after its developers were sent a takedown notice by ZeniMax Media. It’s not an uncommon situation–we saw this happen with more than one Nintendo fan game earlier this year–except for the wrinkle that DoomRL has been around for more than a decade.
ZeniMax, the parent company of Bethesda and Doom developer id Software, has requested the removal of the DoomRL website. Its letter, as shared on Twitter by co-creator Kornel Kisielewicz, states the website makes use of ZeniMax trademarks to “attract internet users to [their] website.” It calls this an “unauthorized use of ZeniMax’s intellectual property [that] falsely suggests ZeniMax’s sponsorship or endorsement.”
In short, ZeniMax wants anything related to its IP to be removed from the website. It threatens “[f]urther legal action” if this isn’t done immediately.
As of yet, the DoomRL website remains online, as do download links for the game. Kisielewicz seems less than pleased, retweeting messages from those supporting the project. This includes one that points out that DoomRL’s development predates ZeniMax’s acquisition of id Software by seven years. That’s striking, even if it it doesn’t factor into this kind of legal consideration.
Another tweet cites the support a separate fan project, Brutal Doom 64, received at The Game Awards. That’s an interesting point, as we saw how the threat of legal action from Nintendo caused two fan games to be pulled from the nominees list from the show. ZeniMax could have done the same and apparently did not. The official Doom Twitter account even encouraged fans to vote for it.
We don’t know what’s going to happen next. As noted above, the website remains online, though Kisielewicz has tweeted, “12 years modders/fangames kept Doom alive in gamer hearts, kept people waiting for a good Doom to come. This is the day. You’re welcome, Z.” He’s currently at work on a spiritual successor, Jupiter Hell, that’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. Cheekily, its description notes it comes from the creator of “D**m, the Roguelike.”
We’ll report back with any further developments.