Github, the world’s largest online code repository, recently received a DMCA takedown notice from Microsoft regarding a certain user’s repository hosted on its servers. The user in question was the 25-man ElDorito team, responsible for creating the launcher with the same name. The ElDorito launcher allows PC users to play Halo Online without any restrictions and a wealth of additional features.
Halo Online is a multiplayer-only first-person shooter, slated to be released exclusively in Russia sometime in the next three months. It is based on a heavily modified Halo 3 engine and assets. The ElDorito team managed to get their hands on an early build of Halo Online and started removing restrictions and adding brand new functionality to the game. This didn’t impress Microsoft in the slightest.
The ElDorito team continued their work on the game unswayed, responding to the DMCA takedown by uploading their code to numerous other private and public code repositories. They found out that Halo Online is riddled with microtransactions, though it is announced as a free-to-play title. ElDorito has stated that their goal is to bring an authentic Halo 3 experience to the PC. Halo 3 is currently only available on the Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles.
This case shows not just how completely useless DMCA takedowns are, but also the corporate bean counter mentality that lead to their creation. It’s incredibly easy, even for the average user, to spread information on the Internet, and once it’s publically available, there’s no way to erase it completely. This holds true for both John Smith and Microsoft. In fact, trying to erase any information from the Internet is a veritable PR nightmare, as each successive attempt at suppression draws even more attention from the public. Has Microsoft never heard of the Streisand effect?
The gaming culture thrives on modding. Counter-Strike began as a mod for Half-Life and is still being played to this day. Dota was at first a Warcraft 3 mod, yet grew to the point of spawning an entire genre of video games. Large developers must at some point realize that gamers want to actively participate in the creation of video games, not just play them. Apparently, we still have a long road ahead of us until we reach that point, and that road is paved with DMCA takedown notices.