You Could Have Had A Shadowrun X-Com 2 Mod, But Microsoft Said No

If you’re a fan of X-Com 2, you’ve probably heard about Team Dragonpunk, and the mods they’re working on which bring magic and dragons to the otherwise alien-only world of Firaxis’ popular strategy game.

What you may not know, which was just revealed by the team via a twitter conversation with fans, is that Microsoft wanted half a million dollars to let them make a Shadowrun mod.

Originally, the Dragonpunk mod was going to be a Shadowrun-themed affair, with the name “Shadowrun Assets, Inc.”, yet Microsoft naturally made them change it. What came out now via that discussion with fans is that Microsoft threatened to sue them if they released the mod, even though they planned to give it out for free.

Though it’s not entirely uncommon for a company to do such a thing, the fact that they demanded $500,000 from them to continue work on nothing more than a free mod seems a bit excessive. Especially for a company that has been trying hard to court PC gamers in recent years.

The name change to “Dragonpunk” hasn’t changed the design or content, however, and X-Com players who are also Shadowrun players will no doubt notice much similarity between the two.

Shadowrun has had a rocky history, with Harebrained Schemes’ Jordan Weisman trying for quite some time to get his own chance at using the untapped cyberpunk license and Microsoft squandering the community’s good faith by turning the property into what ended being a very poorly received Counter-Strike-esque shooter with 2007’s Xbox Exclusive Shadowrun.

Does Team Dragonpunk have a reason to be angry, or is this just business as usual in the modern game industry? Should free mods be treated the same as for-purchase games? Should Microsoft have left them alone? Let us know in the comments.

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Carl is both a JRPG fan and a CRPG'er who especially loves European PC games. Even with more than three decades of gaming under his belt, he feels the best of the hobby is yet to come.

  1. Annie T. Mood
    Annie T. Mood
    March 8, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    Of course they said no.

  2. Godmars
    March 8, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    How is Shadowrun Returns a thing?

  3. Heavily Augmented
    Heavily Augmented
    March 8, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    It’ll always baffle me when companies decide to shut down or make creators pay for letting them making mods especially in this case since Microsoft have done NOTHING with the IP ever since that awful FPS in 2007.

  4. Dewey Defeats Truman
    Dewey Defeats Truman
    March 8, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    When was the last time MS did something that wouldn’t be easily considered a massive PR nightmare?

  5. deadeye
    March 8, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    On one hand, Microsoft is indeed within their legal rights to do this.

    On the other, it’s still a dick move and they’re only really hurting themselves. They have nothing to lose. If the mod sucks, who cares? If the mod is great, maybe that gets more people into Shadowrun. Maybe that will give them cause to do something with the IP.

    But in the end, we still get the mod, they get nothing but bad PR. Good job, MS.

  6. dogmentation
    March 8, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    It’s probably a good thing, since the HBG Shadowrun games are great, and X-com 2 is a steaming pile.

  7. dsadsada
    March 8, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    What I don’t understand is why would they still sue if it’s released for free. It’s not as if Dragonpunk gains anything from it and would in fact have lost time that could have been used with something more lucrative for themselves. All that happens is that both X-Com 2 and Shadowrun could potentially get more players from the free advertising as you said.

    I understand that if a company fails to protect its copyrights that it could lose them but would that be the case here if they didn’t sue?

  8. sanic
    March 8, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    Should have let them do it with the condition being future shadowrun themed works would be dlc with profit sharing between parties, they could have seen if the community is still interested in shadowrun and created a future profit opportunity.

    I know some wouldn’t like what I’ve suggested but it’s about making all parties happy enough to deal.

  9. Wisdomcube2000
    March 8, 2016 at 11:35 pm

    Going to play the devil’s advocate for a quick moment:

    “If the mod sucks, who cares?”

    They do? Brand recognition is a big thing for companies. If bunch of garbage shows up using your products name, that could hurt your bottom line later on if people associate those bad experiences with your brand.

    That aside, I agree that they handled this poorly.

  10. -blank-
    March 9, 2016 at 12:18 am

    I might be mistaken, but the way copyright law is laid out in America, copyright holders basically have to aggressively pursue unauthorized uses of their copyright, or else others who want to use it can use their lack of action in court.

    This was made really popular during the Bethesda vs Mojang “Scrolls” fiasco. And even if that’s more the fault of shitty American copyright law instead of copyright holders, it’s still shitty for everyone involved.

  11. -blank-
    March 9, 2016 at 12:24 am

    Closest I can think of was removing Kinect from the Xbone. And even though they were doing what fans wanted people were still pissed.

    And for good reason. Fuckin’ Phil Spencer saying it was required. Maybe you’d be better at PR if you took your foot out of your mouth.

  12. Fear Me I Am Free
    Fear Me I Am Free
    March 9, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Didn’t Microsoft just close like 5 or 6 studios?

  13. NuclearKangaroo
    March 9, 2016 at 12:39 am

    i cant believe companies keep doing shit like this

    at worst, a mod does nothing to your intellectual property, at best it can give your IP a PR boost, like Brutal DOOM did, or even better give you some capable, new talent you can hire to make you some money

    valve has the right idea, they have done this for years, hire modders who have made exceptionally good mods and turn them into multi million dollar franchises

    hell as of late, they are even letting content creators make their own Half-Life games and even charge money for them

    does this cheapen the Half-Life IP? ill ask you a different question, which is one of the most anticipated sequels of all time?

  14. Dgnfly
    March 9, 2016 at 12:41 am

    And this shows why i support sony and not Microsoft. plus The destroyer of first party studio’s thing, and a whole list off other things right now like trying to control the PC market.

  15. Dewey Defeats Truman
    Dewey Defeats Truman
    March 9, 2016 at 12:51 am

    I won’t pretend to be a legal guru but from what I know it’s trademarks that have to be aggressively defended. Copyrights are generally okay, because otherwise even something like fanfics or fanart would have to be shut down and only the most zealous of legal trolls would bother with that shit.

  16. evilmajikman
    March 9, 2016 at 1:04 am

    Feels like Microsoft is slowly going the way of Sega.

  17. Neojames82
    March 9, 2016 at 1:06 am

    Still can’t believe MS still holds on to this franchise, as if they are actually going to do something with it. I mean HBG probably had to go through legal hell with them just to get Shadowrun Returns off the ground. They even until sometime later didn’t allow you to use the editor in the GOG version because they didn’t want it to be DRM free.

    Seems like while Nintendo is fucking up lately, so is Microsoft! Not sure if Sony has done some dumb shit, well, expect for leaving the Vita to kinda wither and die. In other words, I’m really starting to hate the big three console companies more so than some publishers. And it is because they pull shit like this.

    Yes, I fully understand they are in the right, it is their IP. But I still shake my head in dismay that companies that hold these game franchises under lock and key; hold them hostage; do fuck all with them but when there is a slight interest in something from an enthusiastic fan that seeks no money, NOPE we cannot have that!

  18. Neojames82
    March 9, 2016 at 1:47 am

    You raise some valid points. Which i think then it is a prime opportunity to perhaps have the mod team and Microsoft kinda collaborate with them to make a pretty damn sweet mod. Maybe then they could even use it an some sort of official spin-off game where they can split the money.

  19. Chibi Kami
    Chibi Kami
    March 9, 2016 at 1:51 am

    Microsoft is only within their legal rights to issue a formal Cease & Desist notice. This notice holds no legal weight but is the minimum necessary action to hold onto a copyright in countries where failing to challenge copyright violations result in forfeiture of the IP (I’m looking at you Germany)

    Freely distributed fan-made IP-themed modifications, regardless of their intricacy, are covered by fair use doctrine. Legally speaking MS doesn’t have a case unless the team uses graphic or audio assets taken from an existing product such as the Shadowrun FPS.

  20. Richard Miller
    Richard Miller
    March 9, 2016 at 2:27 am

    I support neither but things like this reminds me why so many people hate Microsoft so much.

  21. Richard Miller
    Richard Miller
    March 9, 2016 at 2:29 am

    Microsoft is still a greedy anti-consumer company.

  22. Wisdomcube2000
    March 9, 2016 at 3:04 am

    Oh I agree. Would love to see MS take a healthy interest in supporting PC gamers/modders. Maybe they’ll catch on one day lol.

  23. scemar
    March 9, 2016 at 3:08 am

    Absolutely disgusting from microsoft.

    They were going to release out A FREE MOD
    They would not make a cent off it and it wouldn’t compete with anything they are putting out.

    It’s common sense to let them do the mod.

    Copyright law is wrong if microsoft can just stop people from doing their own things non profit if they aren’t even going to lose anything off it.

  24. scemar
    March 9, 2016 at 3:09 am

    That’s retard businessman logic that assumes the players are stupid enough to blame microsoft for someone else’s mod if it sucks.

  25. scemar
    March 9, 2016 at 3:11 am

    sony has its dirt too
    they’ve released virus to people’s computers in their drm and tried to hide it, they’ve twisted publisher’s arms to give theme exclusive content and stuff

  26. scemar
    March 9, 2016 at 3:12 am

    It’s not true, it’s an excuse they use but nothing is really going to happen to them

  27. Jumanji Joe
    Jumanji Joe
    March 9, 2016 at 3:19 am

    Microsoft hates pc gamers.

  28. landlock
    March 9, 2016 at 4:02 am

    Why should they be allowed to use someone else’s IP against there will?

  29. Nagato
    March 9, 2016 at 4:49 am

    Given that MS is currently also licensing out the IP to Harebrained Studios and Cliffhanger Productions, I can definitely see why they wouldn’t just want anyone else “intruding” upon this particular IP without the latter’s explicit approval in the form of Steam Workshop support.

  30. Master Bating
    Master Bating
    March 9, 2016 at 7:32 am

    The original creator of the franchise Weisman obtained the license from Microsoft, likely because his studio FASA worked for them a while back.

    He also founded Herebrained and thankfully we were able to get some nice games using the franchise.

  31. Master Bating
    Master Bating
    March 9, 2016 at 8:54 am

    Because its fan made and not monetized.

  32. Immahnoob
    March 9, 2016 at 9:14 am

    For once, we can agree with scemar here. You’ve just said that people that don’t like the mod would blame Microsoft when the dude making it is unrelated to Microsoft.

    Your argument is retarded.

  33. Bitterbear
    March 9, 2016 at 9:58 am

    They’re stupid enough to buy the new Fire Emblem game.

  34. Dgnfly
    March 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

    True but they don’t buy up I.P then close the studio right away. they do invest more into gaming then microsoft.

  35. Dgnfly
    March 9, 2016 at 10:26 am

    The biggest problem with MS is that they are also trying to control the PC market while sony keep it to its own consoles.

  36. Zanard Bell
    Zanard Bell
    March 9, 2016 at 11:09 am

    So, what was that about Microsoft trying to get PC gamers back with Windows 10? (Laced with killing .exe, modding and what made Windows great in general.)

    I mean, at least EA and Ubisoft are a bit honest in that they really don’t care, so they won’t make empty promises, but Microsoft is on another dickbag level here.

  37. Neojames82
    March 9, 2016 at 11:23 am

    Yeah…I wouldn’t hold your breath on that. XD I think that Microsoft truly does not give two shits about PC gaming. They want nothing to do with it and wants everyone to buy an Xbox, where they have the control, not the consumer.

  38. djluke_1993
    March 9, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Not sure what Sony you are following at all. Because they’ve also closed down a fair few studios in their life.

  39. Wisdomcube2000
    March 9, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Internet at it’s finest as usual..Did you even read my entire comment? It seriously explains why this could be a negative for them. Keep in mind I don’t agree with it, but it is very likely why they hit this so hard.

  40. Wisdomcube2000
    March 9, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Business man logic almost always plays it safe when it comes to protecting their money/investments. This is unfortunately one of those situations.

  41. Immahnoob
    March 9, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    I can’t believe Microsoft is that retarded, too unlikely.

    There are far more benefits from letting this mod live, you’re the one exaggerating here.

  42. Wisdomcube2000
    March 9, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    >I can’t believe Microsoft is that retarded, too unlikely.

    Well that made my day lol. Seriously though, look up sh!t like Brand Dilution: http://moneyterms.co.uk/brand-dilution/ . It covers stuff like this.

    Or just look into how companies view protecting their brand: http://www.franchoice.com/resources/franchise-articles/Protecting_Your_Brand . You’ll quickly find the companies really do value their control of their brand and will (sometimes very aggressively) defend their intellectual property related to said brand. Similar to how most indie fan remakes/sequels get shutdown, I think a MGS remake was just a recent example.

    Or look at how hard Bethesda came at Mojang for the Scrolls game (which in their mind, infringed on their Elder Scrolls trademark). In that situation they ended up settling on a license agreement that allowed for the name use only for the Scrolls game and nothing else: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2012/03/16/bethesda-and-mojang-settle-scrolls-lawsuit/#61d4e1f252d4 . They had a potentially weak case, but they still went after it.

    I wish I was massively exaggerating, but it’s the truth. This is serious business for companies lol. Anywho, say what you will, I’ve wasted enough time on this comment. Gotta get back to work lol. Have a great day :)

  43. Immahnoob
    March 9, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    As I said, this would have gave them better PR and publicity, I know that you think it’s valid because some sites are trying to feed it to you and all, but it’s not a smart move.

    They’ve fucked themselves PR wise.

  44. Bridgeoverthewater
    March 9, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Seems like a lot of bad news is coming from Microsoft lately, doesn’t it?

  45. Wisdomcube2000
    March 9, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    I never said I agree with what they did though..(again don’t feel like you are reading my posts here though maybe I’m just misreading your comment?).

    Also quick aside because it confused/annoyed me lol: “sites are trying to feed it to me”? Really? I try to back up my argument with several sources, and you counter with that? Are we even having the same argument here?

    Just to remind ya in case we are not: I’m just making the argument that it is a pretty normal thing for a company to do. It may not be the smartest PR move in this case (I agree with ya there!), but it is probably the safer/easier business move for them atm. And now with all that said, I’m out lol.

  46. Extrange
    March 9, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    …..I need to ask for a raise. *cough* DAMN CARL* cough*

  47. Thanatos2k
    March 9, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Wow Microsoft looks like a pack of douches. Give me money for releasing a free mod? This is why people speaking out against the Windows 10 bullshit are right on despite Microsoft’s feeble denials. Microsoft hates mods, and wants total control.

  48. Thanatos2k
    March 9, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    That’s trademarks, not copyrights.

  49. Thanatos2k
    March 9, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    Announcing backwards compatibility for the Bone. And that was a while ago. Since then, nothing but bad behavior.

  50. tyren02
    March 10, 2016 at 10:09 am

    “I understand that if a company fails to protect its copyrights that it could lose them”

    This is actually not true. You lose trademarks if you don’t protect them, not copyright, at least in the US.

    Not to nitpick, but I think that’s an important distinction to make because it means Microsoft’s actions make even LESS sense.

  51. fnd
    March 10, 2016 at 10:56 am

    “Especially for a company that has been trying hard to court PC gamers in recent years.”


  52. fnd
    March 10, 2016 at 10:59 am

    “Also i stopped PC gaming cause off DRM or else i would have stayed PC gamer.”

    lol. If you don’t want DRM, be a pirate. You think fagbox and gaystation don’t have DRM?

  53. Dgnfly
    March 10, 2016 at 11:29 am

    I would, but i still like the gaming industry and i wanna keep investing into it not see it destroyed in the process.

  54. Dgnfly
    March 10, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Well Sony also closed studio cause off its other sectors were doing bad. and its more it is a lot broader then microsoft. also they also saved certain company´s in the past like Square.

    But in general companys are bad and do things just for themselves but i don´t feel sony is in the most horrible group like Microsoft. don´t forget sony atleast gave us great first party games by investing in first party while M$ is non/stop closing them down and then buying exclusivity.

  55. dsadsada
    March 10, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Ah, thanks. I always get trademarks and copyrights mixed up.

  56. Daniel Petrov
    Daniel Petrov
    September 9, 2016 at 2:15 am

    I am rcently a huge shadowrun fan and writing a good fanf fic about it, and when I saw dragon slayer mod for xcom 2 I was so hyped to see concept art looking similar to shadowrun only to find this shit.

    I just hate to see the IP being in the shelf and collecting dust, can´t we just make a kickstarter and buy the IP and entrust the IP to a gamestudio that can be trusted, is the IP even for sale?