Fan-created video game projects seem to operate in a legal limbo where at any moment they could cross the undefined line into “commercial product” territory and be hit with cease and desist letters. Take for instance AM2R, a fan-made Metroid 2 remake, which was shut down by Nintendo because according to them, it transitioned into a commercial product even though there wasn’t a charge for it. This isn’t always the case, however, and some companies approve of or even encourage fan-made projects. Just yesterday the team behind Installation 01, a fan-made Halo game, announced that their project had the approval of 343 Industries.
Comprised of dozens of passionate fans-turned-developers, the Installation 01 team is building an “artistic tribute” to the series by recreating “the multiplayer experience of the Bungie-era games.” Built on the Unity 5 engine, it will be free to play on all PC platforms. As noted on their website, they operate under Microsoft’s Game Content Usage Rules, meaning they can fairly distribute it with no issues. Still, that’s no guarantee a company wouldn’t attempt to take legal action, so the team has been in contact with 343i for several months discussing the legality of it.
For a while it was a one-way street with the Installation 01 team sending information regarding the project to 343 Industries and being thanked for maintaining correspondence in return, but 343i finally invited them to participate in a Skype call where they could hash out the situation. The important take-away is that Installation 01 can operate as usual for now.
“We are happy to announce that the outcome of the call was both incredibly informational and very positive! Through these interactions we have been ensured that Installation 01 is not under imminent legal threat, provided we remain non-commercial in nature and scope, and continue to follow Microsoft’s Game Content Usage Rules to the letter. We are now able to say with certainty that Installation 01 will never be accepting donations. We also will not be selling i01 or Halo related merchandise. This is to keep a respectful distance between us and Microsoft’s intellectual property.”
A quick Q&A section in the statement reiterates that while those who support the project can send all of the love they want, the team cannot accept monetary donations and will not be selling official Installation 01 merchandise.
The approval of this project “does not automatically pave the way for other projects to be approved or viewed the same as Installation 01.” 343 Industries representatives also said that the studio just doesn’t have the time to engage with everyone in the same way they did in this scenario.
Considering how some fan projects like these meet their untimely demise, it’s nice to see a happy ending in this case, at least for now.