Phantasm Studios are an indie startup development studio, and their first project was planned to be a reboot for the Ghost ‘n Goblins franchise. There was only one problem – they never acquired the rights to the license from Capcom. After they put their game on Kickstarter, Capcom quickly filed a copyright claim, forcing Kickstarter to cancel the project.
The developer promised that the game would be made regardless of whether or not they actually did manage to get the rights to the franchise. If negotiations had failed, Phantasm Studios would simply change the name of the game, and all the characters within it.
Phantasm Studios gave their take on licensing issues and adapting your concept with a classic bit of gaming history:
“In 1980 Shigeru Miyamoto of Nintendo created a Popeye video game but couldn’t get the rights from King Features. He transformed Popeye to Mario, Bluto to Donkey Kong, and Olive Oyl to the Princess. This was the birth of Donkey Kong. If we can’t secure a developers license we will change King Arthur and the name of the game, but that is all. Thankfully werewolves, demons, skeletons, reapers, ghosts, goblins, etc. are all public domain. The modifications will be so minor, the changes will be easy and will not change our release schedule.”
While this sounds like a great fall-back, Capcom caught wind of their intentions and submitted a copyright claim to kickstarter, which in turn made kickstarter cancel the project and post the claim from Capcom:
“The project acknowledges its goal is to create an update to the Ghosts ‘N Goblins franchise based upon the characters, stories, music and other copyrightable elements of the Property. Such unauthorized update would clearly violate Capcom’s exclusive rights under copyright law to create derivative works of the Property. It would also violate Capcom’s trademark rights in the Property. The project admits it will need Capcom’s permission to proceed and has not received one. To its knowledge, Capcom has not been contacted by the project.”
The game had been in development for a release on the eShop, the Playstation Network, and Xbox Live Arcade. We’re still waiting on an update from Phantasm Studios. Another unlicensed Ghosts ‘n Goblins game, Ghosts ‘n Goblins Online, was pulled from Steam Greenlight a few months back.