How Do Boardgame Creators Feel About Tabletop Simulator And Infringing Mods?

We asked Paul Dean of splendid boardgaming website Shut Up & Sit Down to investigate the future of the enormously successful boardgame software, Tabletop Simulator [official site]. He spoke to the creators, as well as boardgame designers, to discover their feelings towards copyright-infringing mods that replicate their games, plus the possible benefits of paid mods and licensed DLC.

The first time I saw anyone playing Tabletop Simulator, I was pointed toward a jury-rigged version of the hidden identity game Mascarade, cobbled together using Dota 2 art for the cards. My immediate response was, “Well, this definitely isn’t going to last.” What I saw in this new software wasn’t just an explosion of interest in board games, but also the potential for so many copyrights to be infringed.

I gave it a week or two before the first complaint would be raised, yet the response from much of the community was surprisingly positive and, instead, Tabletop Simulator went from strength to strength, gaining tremendous popularity and receiving rave reviews. Not only has this made it a huge success for developers Berserk, it’s also brought more board games to more people, many still blinking as they stumble into the bright new light of a hobby they thought was all about Cluedo and Monopoly.

Can this last? While Tabletop Simulator may well be a fine ambassador for board gaming, these mods aren’t making their original designers or publishers any money. Surely, surely there’s some resentment around this? Is it only a matter of time before Tabletop Simulator or one of its modders is held to account? What if Steam went ahead and re-introduced paid-for mods that allowed the original creators to sell versions of their work? I reached out to some board game designers to ask them what they thought and was surprised by many of their responses. The lawyers may not be rolling out just yet.

Tabletop Simulator was one of those unexpected successes. In a world of multimillion dollar crowdfunding campaigns, developer Berserk Games asked for just $3,000 to help finish a framework for simulating board and card games, but they received more than ten times that, pushing through stretch goals with the same ease you’d punch out cardboard tokens. In an email jointly representing its two developers, Jason Henry & Kimiko, the team say they’ve “received a great response” from players but certainly did not anticipate the scale of that response. Though Tabletop Simulator is still growing, forming itself in the larval tubes of Early Access, the mods have been flooding in.

“The support from the community has been fantastic,” they continue. “They create tons of great original content that we love playing. And surprisingly, we’ve been able to manage it just fine with just the two of us, excluding some great contract work. It’s definitely a 24/7 job, but we make sure to take some time off on the weekends to keep things sane.”

It’s also beyond Berserk to monitor the mods, something that would be a job in itself as “Tons” is an understatement. The Steam Workshop page for Tabletop Simulator is overflowing with well over 3,000 add-ons, from single playing pieces to full-fledged adaptations of games like Lords of Waterdeep and Settlers of Catan. Many are very capable adaptations of real-world board games and have clearly appropriated their mechanics, concepts and art, but none are official. Does an adaptation of the X-Wing miniatures game infringe on the rights of its designers, its publisher Fantasy Flight, and even Disney, the owner of Star Wars?

I have to admit, I’m surprised, even stunned at just how popular Tabletop Simulator has become. That’s a colossal body of mods representing countless of hours of work by modders to make digital representations of so many board games. Yet, for me, part of the appeal of board games is the personal and social aspects, elements that are sometimes even critical to the rules when players need to bluff, deceive or misdirect one another. Then there was that expectation that I mentioned, that certainty that the cease and desist orders were on their way. Surely so many toes have already been stepped on. What did board game designers themselves think?

At first, Colby Dauch, founder of Plaid Hat Games, gave me the kind of response I would very much expect. He hasn’t tried Tabletop Simulator yet because he “Appreciate[s] the physical component and meat-space aspect of board games. While running a board game company, I get plenty of opportunity to get my board game fix.” Board games are, of course, designed with this in mind and the purist within me gives a firm nod of agreement. However, while he also has some concern about people replicating his company’s hard work, it’s not quite for the reasons I’d expect.

“I’m concerned that knowing a game of ours is up there gives me some legal obligation to protect our copyright,” he continues. “I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be the jerk that ruins people’s fun and I think that digital versions of our games likely sell more physical copies than they deny sales.”

This sort of tolerance isn’t what I expected, but the board games industry works rather differently to that of video games. Dauch is correct that digital incarnations can have a positive impact on a game’s exposure and this is not only because they may reach different people, but also because that may be the only way they reach those people. Board games are physical objects that, as well as requiring shipping and distribution, exist in very limited print runs. Some are even manufactured in quantities of only a few thousand and they run out. A reprint or new edition can be a very big deal, particularly for a smaller team.

Profit margins aren’t anything to write home about. While a box of artistically-embellished cardboard and finely-rendered plastic pieces is a lovely thing to behold, that stuff doesn’t just cost money to make, it’s also heavy, which means it costs more money to distribute. The app form of Plaid Hat’s popular Summoner Wars certainly doesn’t seem to have harmed that game’s popularity, likely because it was so readily available, though also because it was so well executed.

In fact, it’s the possibility of capable execution of a mods which has artist and designer Daniel Solis rather interested. Tabletop Simulator, he says, may provide a fine framework for a lot of adaptations, especially after encountering a few setbacks in that area.

“I’ve seen so many disappointing digital versions of tabletop games that I really think there has to be a way for dedicated enthusiasts to at least give an alternative a shot,” he says. “If an enthusiast takes the initiative to make a good digital version of one of my games, I want them to get in touch with me so we can collaborate. I wouldn’t want them to be scared off by the risk of a lawsuit or something.”

If he found one of his own, self-published designs online for free, Solis says “I’d be cool with it. I’d ideally want a custom UI optimized for my games, but a Tabletop Simulator mod is not a bad place to start. If it’s a game published by another company, then I would have to defer to their legal advice.” Similarly, he doesn’t sound particularly angry about the idea of discovering a hypothetical paid-for mod of one of his games online. That could also be promising.

“In that case I’d want to reach out to them and come to some agreement where they can keep their mod up and available while I get compensated,” he says. “I’ve been approached many times by startup studios who wanted to turn my games into apps, but then disappeared the next week for various reasons, [so] someone who actually has the follow-through to make a digital version of my game already sets themselves apart from those other groups.”

48 Comments

  1. Pazguato says:

    Nice article about a troubled subject. Designers and publishers need to get some piece of the cake at least, like wih spotify, I think.

    • Tukuturi says:

      I think it’s more complicated than that. I know the rules to various editions of D&D well enough to DM without a DMG. I don’t own any of the D&D books anymore. Should I not be allowed to run D&D? Should I not teach others to play? Should I require that someone pay WotC before I teach them the rules, or buy a set of books? What if I change some of the rules, wing it some, but use the basic ideas? I’m not selling those ideas, but I am using them and sharing them. Who owns these ideas?

      • Unruly says:

        One of the nice things about D&D is that, at least for 3rd edition and any derivatives, Wizards released the actual rules themselves under the Open Game License. Anyone can use those rules as the basis for anything they want, so long as they allow the same thing. Really, it works like the GPL does for computer software. The only things you can’t use without permission are setting-specific items. For instance, D&D has a set of spells that are “Bigby’s ****ing hand/fist,” but the OGL doesn’t let you use the name Bigby because he’s a setting specific character. So you just call the spell “****ing hand/fist” instead and you’re good to go!

        Whole companies have built themselves on the back of the OGL. The biggest is Paizo, who created Pathfinder off of the D&D3.5 rules and ate D&D’s lunch for quite a while. And, since the basic rules structure really hadn’t truly changed all that much over the years, people were able to use the OGL to almost completely recreate every edition of D&D up to that point.

        For most board games, points of contention will be art, layout, and names rather than rules. The whole crux of the case between Hasbro and Scrabulous was because the Scrabulous name was very, very similar to Scrabble and because the board was an exact rip-off of the Scrabble board layout. And it’s because you can’t copyright the rules themselves, but you can copyright their presentation. At best a company could maybe get a patent on rules but, at least in the US and Canada, they would have a hard fight in winning that battle.

  2. padger says:

    Fascinating stuff. Surprised I hadn’t heard of this issue before. Or even thought about it when I saw all the Tabletop Sim stuff. Definitely an issue for all involved, I hope it can get sorted amicably.

  3. Phinor says:

    Really delicate issue and no doubt someone will sooner or later try and shut it all down. The fact is that TTS is helping to sell copies of actual physical tabletop games. Popular streamers like TotalBiscuit reminds every TTS stream that do support the publishers of these games by buying their products, he knows we aren’t far from someone doing something to stop TTS altogether. And obviously he buys all of the games himself as well, being a fan of tabletop games.

    That being said, in most cases TTS probably doesn’t really sell many copies and especially smaller games (with bad availability) probably even suffer from TTS. Part of the issue is that tabletop game availability is horrible in most parts of the world, even in most European countries. Only in North America is availability typically good, except for smaller (European) published games. But in Europe, even popular games are often hard or impossible to find. It can take 6-24 months for a new print to arrive and that’s an eternity in today’s world. So in a way, it really is a service issue. Many of the mods/games in TTS simply are not realistically available for customers.

    • Premium User Badge

      SuddenSight says:

      I am interested in where in Europe you are looking. Because it always seems like Germany and the UK are getting games a couple months before us Americans. That might just be because of the games I am looking for, though.

      • Phinor says:

        Basically anywhere but Germany/UK and availability usually drops a lot. With board games ordering abroad isn’t quite as convenient as with video games because delivery fees even within Europe are usually quite high. 30€ extra shipping fee on a 30€ game makes it a 60€ game. Meanwhile at Coolstuffinc the same game is usually like $25 (though obviously they don’t offer free shipping either unless your order value reaches $100, but in Europe the more you order, the more you pay for shipping). And then there’s localization issues, many games with good availability in Germany are only available in German.

        But as you said, it varies a lot game by game. Perhaps you only notice games being available in Europe in the (rare) cases when they aren’t available in North America? Or maybe you just like games that happen to have good availability and distribution in Europe. Anyone from the UK care to comment how you feel about games availability?

        Personally I feel like at least every non-FFG game I’m currently interested in is simply not available or alternatively only few stores in the whole Europe have them in stock and prices are unreasonably high especially with shipping.

  4. Erithtotl says:

    Speaking of TTS, I’m tempted to pick it up. I’m unsure what mods are really good adaptations, and how easy it is to play and/or find players?

    • Premium User Badge

      SuddenSight says:

      I picked it up around 6 months ago. The best support is for RPGs, where there is actually some official (license-free) figurines and perfect positioning of pieces doesn’t matter so much.

      Card-only games (poker, gin rummy, deck-builders) are also pretty good – the hand-management interface is quite nice.

      Last couple times I tried it I found it most obnoxious for positioning games (chess would be a pain) because the snapping-system was still just getting implemented. That was about 3 months ago, and I believe they have made significant updates. I need to go back and give it another shot.

    • Continuity says:

      TTS itself takes a little getting used to, its not super intuitive and there are lots of mechanics that aren’t really explained, however you can get going with it straight off.
      There are lots of great mods, the trickier part is finding a group to play with, because ideally you need at least one person who has a good amount of experience with the game then you need to find others who want to play, then you need to get them all together at the same time, this can be quite an effort involving posting in multiple forums and groups, if you’re determined though, you can make it happen, and if you keep it up for long enough you can get a group of regulars together, which is important because randoms can be unreliable.

  5. Premium User Badge

    SuddenSight says:

    TTS is the main reason I am bummed Steam gave up on paid mods. It seems perfect for it, especially in light of all the bad board game implementations that exist.

    The biggest benefits to TTS (in my opinion) are seeing other player’s cursors and built-in voice chat. Two little touches that really aid the friendly, sitting around a table feel.

    I really hope Berserk Studios finds a way to introduce paid implementations (either paid mods or lots of DLC) because it seems like a wonderful platform to me.

    • Author X says:

      Not only would DLC be a great way to get around the lack of paid mods, it would distinguish between unofficial and officially licensed versions of games.

      • Author X says:

        Oh wait, I see they’ve already done this with Superfight. And just today they added another option to purchase it – an “Unlimited” version that only one person has to buy, that can host any number of players (that have bought TTS). Not a bad implementation.

  6. Shiloh says:

    First Quinns, and now Paul? Can Matt be far behind?

    If there have to be hybrid versions of board games (and I’m still not convinced), I’d much rather buy them from the publisher direct than pay my money to Berserk – sure, they add a framework (in this case TTS) but all the work is done for free by enthusiasts, based on an IP designed and developed by someone else again.

    This just seems to me like Berserk have stumbled on a great way of skimming off the top of other people’s endeavours.

    And this “service issue” thing they mention – I’m not quite sure about that. Just because lots of people have developed mods doesn’t mean Berserk get to walk away whistling – “sorry guys, not our problem – we’re just software developers, you lot have to sort out the licensing and IP ramifications”.

  7. latedave says:

    I like the fact that there seems to be such an adult conversation about this. It would be nice to have the option to play games online when we can’t physically get together

    • JB says:

      “It would be nice to have the option to play games online when we can’t physically get together”

      I scanned my physical copy of a lovely 2-player card duelling game and made a TTS mod, specifically so that I could play it with a good pal of mine across the Atlantic. It’s unlikely we’ll ever sit down at a real table for a boardgame so this is a nice way to get together for a game!

      • JB says:

        And I should add, as well as me owning a copy, he owns at least 2 editions of the game, possibly more!

  8. Chiron says:

    So any good Warhammer or Battlefleet Gothic rip offs because I could totally get into those.

    • Continuity says:

      Warhammer is a bit sparse on there at the moment, apart from some card games, but there is some promising content… maybe in the future.

  9. Lordnine says:

    I see TTS mods as being a way to test out board games before you buy them. I have made it a point to link to a game makers official store front with my mods (two of which were screenshotted in this article). While I take pride in ensuring a high level of art and craftsmanship in my mods, the experience will still always pale in comparison to getting the physical game on a table, which I think means that gamers will seek out the real thing, if they enjoy what they see.

    Some people may abuse TTS, or never bother to buy the full games, but I would argue that in most cases, these people probably wouldn’t have purchased the games in the first place, so lost sales are a non-issue.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      I know of at least two examples of TTS acting as try-before-you-buy. And the trier did buy.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        (That kinda comes off like I’m trying to make a counterpoint, but I’m agreeing with you. Stupid vanished edit function!)

  10. Agretlam says:

    About this paragraph:

    “The very capably produced third-party version of Fantasy Flight’s (pretty average) Witcher board game is one such example; a faithful adaptation for the price of coffee and sandwich, and Smith points out that such dedicated software is much better at enforcing rules than Tabletop Simulator is. Part of Tabletop Simulator’s popularity is in how easy it is to create components and layouts, but replicating mechanics, functions and rules is something else. It’s usually up to players to learn and stick to the rules, even to being careful with their hands. “It has a ways to go to get rid of some of the clunkiness,” Smith also points out. “For example, it’s far too easy to accidentally knock over a pile of cards or tiles.” ”

    That’s actually something my friends and I like about tabletop simulator. There’s something to be said about actually moving your pieces around the board, it gives this nice tactile feeling that’s missing in some more automated games. Moving pieces, doing math, it makes it feel like you’re playing a virtual tabletop game instead of some video game version of a board game. It’s as close as I can get to playing board games with my friends around the world and I’d gladly pay a couple dollars to play Fluxx, Pandemic, or Battle Star Galatica with these people I will probably never meet in person.

    And hey, if you screw something up and knock over some pieces, there’s a handy back/forward button which keeps track of the board. Also, I wish it were as easy to shuffle a 100 card deck in real life as it is in TTS.

  11. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    A service problem? No this is a problem Berserk created. They should have considered that fans would copy their favourite board games causing all sorts of issues. tabletop business isn’t as big as computer games, and as far as I’m concerned the creators of board games deserve more than to be blamed for protecting their creations.

    This isn’t something like Valve and player-made hats for TF2, because Valve set that up. This is like EA making a platform for players to make a copy of TF2.

    • Tukuturi says:

      This is probably the strangest response to tabletop simulator I’ve seen. I’m trying to wrap my head around it, and I can’t. Are you a game designer who had a bad experience with Berserk Games?

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        I may have been a bit overly harsh towards Berserk.

        I would consider it the responsibility of the fans who make these mods to request permission from the original creators (and see where it goes from there). Now, Berserk aren’t directly to blame for people not doing so, but they have made a platform which makes it really easy to just go ahead with it. It’s very well possible that Berserk had no idea that people would be doing this sort of thing, but it would’ve been good if they’d set up certain do’s and don’ts as a lot of people don’t consider copyright and the like.

        Thinking on it, Berserk could then also have offered a place for paid-for content (so the original creators get rewarded for their games) although that’s up to Berserk and whatever comes their way.

        • Tukuturi says:

          Point taken. It’s a good idea to contact the game designers or publishers, and that’s something a lot of modders might not even think about. I know I had thought about making some mods, but it hadn’t occurred to me to contact the creators.

  12. pelle says:

    Most companies (and that goes beyond wargames) have been very supportive of fans making VASSAL modules, or even published them themselves. A few companies have not. I think perhaps because VASSAL is open source it has been seen as less than a threat, and also because for many games they are played much more over VASSAL than face to face.

    To be honest I don’t see anything about Tabletop Simulator that makes me want to use it instead of VASSAL. From what I have read it is much simpler and do not have all the features VASSAL have to make powerful modules that helps you play games. Even if it did it would mean giving up an open, open source, platform where modules can be freely shared for a walled-garden platform where game modules can (and are being) removed from accounts for whatever reason. If I have downloaded a VASSAL module, and my opponent has a copy, we can keep playing. What TS seems to bring are fancy 3D graphics, but really I don’t see how that is a good thing when trying to navigate what is actually a 2D environment (very few boardgames are 3D in any real sense).

    That is just not to mention how many platforms VASSAL supports (and for free). TS isn’t even on all the platforms Steam supports (yet?).

    • MaXimillion says:

      Having played Battlestar Galactica over VASSAL, and watched it being played over TTS, it seems to me that the only reason to use TTS is eyecandy. The VASSAL module has far more convenience features and is much smoother to play.

      • Tukuturi says:

        I’ve used both and prefer tabletop simulator for hanging out with friends and having a good time. For pure mechanical play or something competitive, Vassal would be the way to go. But you can’t load up a virtual iPad in Vassal and play some background music off Youtube, or shake the dice and throw them when you roll them, or fudge the rules if you need to, or do various little things that just make interacting with friends more fun and personal to me. I guess what I’m getting at is that if you want to play a game for its systems, Vassal is best. If you want to play a game for the people you’re playing it with, TTS will always win.

    • Benkyo says:

      Yeah, I think Paul gives Vassal short shrift in the article. Sure, it’s difficult to make a good module in Vassal but at least it is possible. Tabletop Simulator, on the other hand, is so limited in what it can do. Maybe one day it will be possible to make a module in TS that works as well as a Vassal module, but that day seems a long way off.

  13. Tukuturi says:

    Great piece. I’ve mostly used TTS to play games with real life friends who live in faraway places, but I don’t think we’ve used it to play anything that one or more of us don’t already own. It seems like it would be a real pain in the ass to play a boardgame on TTS without a physical copy and/or really good working knowledge of the game. I’m not saying you couldn’t do it, but it would be a pain.

    I’ve used Vassal, OCTGN, and Apprentice to similar ends. I have used Apprentice to build and test Magic decks with cards I didn’t own, and I’ve used Vassal to test Warmachine stuff I didn’t own, but I don’t see that as any different than playing with physical proxies, which is also quite common in physical play.

    The thing is, if a tabletop game is simple enough and/or if someone knows the rules well enough, you don’t necessarily need a copy of the game or a tabletop simulator to play the game. You can play Warhammer with a bunch of empty bases. You can print your own Magic cards or simply write the card info on notecards. A tabletop game is just a bunch of information in your brain when you get down to it, and it would be pretty weird for a publisher to claim ownership over that. Like, “Hey! Cease and desist having those thoughts in your brain!” But having the actual components is nice, as is having a well made TTS mod I guess.

  14. NathanH says:

    I think what’s interesting about TTS is that it shows that people are willing to play board games on a digital platform *without* automated rules. This seems quite important. Many board games are not hugely complicated but contain lots of different things with unique rules and little details. If I were trying to make a digital adaptation of, say, Arkham Horror or Mage Knight, I think I would be quite daunted by the task of getting everything right. It’s a lot of work. But just putting all the components together in a well-made UI with nice shortcuts to standard actions would not be difficult and it seems people are interested in such a product.

    I mean, for me, most of the appeal of a digital board game is automated shuffling, not automated rules…

    • malkav11 says:

      I think it demonstrates that there is such a desperate desire for digital implementations of tabletop games that people are willing to engage with kludgy, difficult software and barebones implementations in the absence of anything better. I’m not so sure that the same thing would be acceptable if it was a pay to play product, especially when lovely digital implementations like Playdek’s various apps exist. It’s also a touch aggravating that so few of those digital boardgames have been brought to PC. Everyone I know has a Windows PC available to them. Hardly any have iPads. But all the boardgames are on iPad. And finally, I’m really hoping Fantasy Flight goes digital in a bigger way someday, because (admittedly very nice) apps for Hey, That’s My Fish and the at best mediocre Elder Sign don’t really cut it. (Well, and Talisman.) Elder Sign in particular is only any fun at all in their app version, which at least has nice music and a lot of atmospheric fullscreen art, plus some special scenarios surrounding DLC Old Ones, that help disguise that the core gameplay is an extremely threadbare “roll some dice and hope you get lucky” business with a strong tendency towards failure spirals since success generally requires resources to be invested and you only get resources by succeeding.

  15. Bull0 says:

    Hah, that X-Wing mod has the official FFG x-wing tutorial video as the video on its’ main page. That’s… that’s a bit cheeky

  16. FriendGaru says:

    I’m very keen on Tabletop Simulator. I get why many people are dismissive of it compared to VASSAL, but I just find the tactile experience offered by TTS to be far more to my tastes. I live in a part of the world without really any boardgame scene, and far away from my friends who play such games, so it’s been a huge boon for me.

    I am certainly not opposed to official versions of games as DLC, but I fear the prices will be way too high. I’m willing to pay a fair amount for a physical boardgame largely because of the longevity it offers. My Cosmic Encounter set is still going to be playable ten to twenty years from now, but who knows ho long until the TTS successor comes along and I have to buy everything all over again.

  17. MisterFurious says:

    I’ve read that all the Munchkin mods have been pulled down, so there’s definitely some game companies out there that aren’t happy with it.

  18. SaintAn says:

    I’ve yet to see any evidence digital tabletop games effect sales of real tabletop games in any way, so these people shouldn’t be whining, especially about mods. They’re just ignorant and greedy. Shame on the writer for giving their ignorance and greed a place to be heard. And if anything, a digital tabletop game may make most people want to buy the physical version, especially if the physical version is reasonably priced.

    And don’t push payed mods. It’s disgusting. W all know that would kill PC gaming, so we need to fight against it. If these people want their games on Tabletop Sim then they need to talk to the dev and make a deal to make expansions for their game using their IP so they can make money from it. Oppressing modders is going to piss off a lot of people online.

  19. h00x says:

    I’ve put almost 500 hours into TTS both playing games and importing some of the physical games I own. Due to playing games in TTS, I’ve gone out and bought 10-15 games. I’ve only started in the last 12-18 months or so “collecting” board games and playing more and more. TTS enabled me to “try” some games out with my local gaming group – enjoy them then go out and buy them. It’s also allowed us to play games together when we have had other commitments and not be able to get together physically in one place its been the almost perfect solution.

    I’m right on the fence for “paid for DLC/Games”. I’ve mentioned it before in my game group but if games could maybe in the future have a serial number or something within it what we could put into TTS and get the game for “free” or a reduced price to use within TTS would be appealing. That way (unlike iPads now) your not re-buying a game you already own and we get “official virtual versions” of the games – I really think that the mod community should be taken advantage of there are some very good versions of games all ready in TTS. IP Owners/Beserk should contact the mod makers and utilise there enthusiasm and drive to help make the TTS version even better – I know for a few games I own I would be more then happy to “help” – this could then be rolled into an “official dlc”

    Anyway comments over – if anyone wants to add me and play some TTS or have some board game / TTS chat feel free to add me on steam – just seach h00x an look for Superted

  20. Gyramuur says:

    I don’t see this as an issue at all; even if people are allowed to download and play versions of these games for free, it still increases the exposure of those games tenfold. Board games are a very niche market – many more people play video-games. Tabletop Simulator brings board games to video gamers. More exposure means more potential buyers, more potential buyers means more money. So they download a game and play it for free. That’s not really an issue, because if they like it, they’ll buy it. If they don’t like it, chances are they’re not the kind of people that would have bought (or even known) about that game anyways.

    The statement that “these mods aren’t making their original designers or publishers any money” is absolute rubbish. I’ve bought a physical copy of almost every game I’ve played and enjoyed on TTS. Some of the Tabletop Simulator mods since then have been taken down, which I think is a shame, because in my mind the developers are just hurting themselves. Me and a lot of people wouldn’t have been exposed to those games via any other way, and subsequently wouldn’t have even known about them. Removing these mods means less exposure and less buyers.

    If publishers can let go of the whole “It’s copyright infringement!” notion, they’ll realise that Tabletop Simulator and its mods, free or otherwise, is a blessing; not a curse.

    • gombicek says:

      The problem is that it has also a legal reasons for the publishers and developers to do the whole copyright infringment think. It’s more of a problem of how copyright law works at least in US. Also I think that a good practice for mod makers would be to actually contact the publisher and developer about the rights. I think that most of them will be actually happy to give the rights to modders to mod they games into TTS and they will be covered in the eyes of the law also:)

  21. bokchoy says:

    I was the host of game night back home and when I moved, it pretty much instantly collapsed. While digital versions don’t hold a candle to being in the same room, it’s infinitely better than having no options at all.

    • bokchoy says:

      Basically, without TTS, I’d only get to play boardgames with those friends once a year.

  22. ssh83 says:

    Does the manufacturer of blank DVD needs to be responsible for bootleg movies copied onto them? Simulator dev just need to avoid officially hosting the digital copy of those board games. The game owners should get in on the digital platform like musicians did with iTunes, not attack it like with Napster.

    • Cockie says:

      Fun fact: in Belgium, you actually have to pay a copyright fee on every empty data storage medium you buy (dvd, usb stick, sd card, hard drive) because it’s possible to put copyrighted materials on them. Seriously.
      Makes them noticeably more expensive.

  23. rmsgrey says:

    I’m sure there are other examples, but I know about Fantasy Flight Games and Battlestar Galactica the Board Game.

    With BSG, FFG have given permission for play-by-forum games on BoardGameGeek provided card text isn’t posted, and for a Vassal module which is complete apart from the text on Loyalty cards (meaning you need to identify them by recognising the image). In other words, they are happy for people to play the game over the internet, but want people to have access to a physical copy in order to do so. That actually means that, if everyone adheres to that, you need up to 6 times as many copies per player…