The developers of the emulator powering the Capcom Home Arcade are not happy

The Capcom Home Arcade device, twin joysticks with 16 pre-loaded Capcom games, was announced last week with a rather hefty price tag of £200. It is powered by the FB Alpha emulator which is used to run the original arcade ROMs for an authentic arcade experience.

However, the FB Alpha emulator is open source and, like many open source products, strictly forbids any commercial use. Barry Harris, one of the chief developers of emulator, tweeted that “FBAlpha has been licensed by Capcom Home Arcade.” How this has happened is unclear, the emulator has been created as a collaborative effort, Mr Harris does not have the right to license it.

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The contributing developers on the FBAlpha forum are understandably upset. “I am very against someone profiting from my work unless it’s me, of course,” posted one developer. “I have never accepted payment for my emulation work. I’m considering pulling out all of the code I wrote and ported for FBA-this would effectively make FBA back into just a CPS and Neo-Geo emulator.”

Interestingly it’s not Capcom who are making the stick., it’s actually Koch Media GmbH, aka THQNordic. They seemed to have licensed all the games and logo from Capcom who in turn don’t want have anything to do with the device and are directing all enquiries to Deep Silver, the publishing arm of Koch Media.

Given THQNordic’s recent and quite extraordinary PR gaff – shoutout to Mark – they probably need to make a statement quite soon. It does appear the official website for the device went offline recently and had some wording regarding the FB Alpha emulator amended, but you can still pre-order the device.

The games included are:

  • 1944: The Loop Master
  • Alien™ vs Predator™
  • Armored Warriors™
  • Capcom Sports Club™
  • Captain Commando™
  • Cyberbots™: Fullmetal Madness
  • Darkstalkers™: The Night Warriors
  • Eco Fighters™
  • Final Fight™
  • Ghouls ‘n Ghosts™
  • Giga Wing™
  • Street Fighter™ II: Hyper Fighting
  • Mega Man: The Power Battle™
  • Progear™
  • Strider™
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo™

Source: Kotaku

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News Editor, very inappropriate, probs fancies your dad.

4 Comments

  1. That developer and his “I am very against someone profiting from my work unless it’s me, of course” comment. If you’re developing an emulator and make any money from it (as that developer seems to want to), then are you not profiting from someone else’s work? But it’s fine if he’s the one profiting?

    Also, it may be open source, but that doesn’t always mean commercial use isn’t allowed. If it’s mostly based on MAME, then that’s covered by the GPL2 license. Which allows you to charge as much as you want for it, as long as you also make the source available. It also means that an derivative works must also be covered by the same license.

    Looks to me like it’s the FB Alpha developers who are the ones in the wrong here. Take someone’s work and build on it (which is fine and one of the main reasons for the GPL in the first place), and then attach extra conditions to it (which isn’t allowed) before getting upset when someone takes that work and sells it. Which is something they’re allowed to do. The selling it part. And the getting upset part too, I guess, but that just makes you look stupid.

    • I think it’s just vague wording that can be misunderstood, I believe he meant that he is unhappy with someone profiting from his work, without consent and that he does not agree with anything he wrote to be made to be used in a commercial product, I quote “have never accepted payment for my emulation work” he is pissed that someone aka Barry Harris has approved illegally, and without the consent of the devs, to license out the emulator. Aka something he helped make, With full understanding that it was for only private non commercial use(and most certainly is, the whole thing is just ignoring the law) and then went and sold it for personal gain.

      • The problem is, his work is based on the work of others.

        There’s all the people that did all the work it’s emulating in the first place. Not that it’s using any of the actual original code, and there are license conditions attached to say “don’t go and steal all those original games”.

        And then there’s all the work done on Mame which it’s based on. And that’s covered by the GPL which explicitly allows commercial use. And probably means anything built on it has to be covered by that same license.

        Of course, there are various loopholes in the GPL that can be exploited depending on how your software uses the GPL’d code. So at the very least he may be legally fine, but definitely morally dubious and not what the people who did the work he’s built on wanted.

        There might even be an issue with Mame changing it’s license 3 years ago which involved asking everyone who’d contributed and removing some code that couldn’t be relicensed. One of the reasons for that was to allow it to be used for companies to distribute with their own old games.

        Maybe it’s built using a really old version of Mame from before it was covered by the GPL? From when the license had a vague, “no commercial use, but we’re not going to enforce that” clause?

    • That’s how I interpreted such a license as well.

      I find it ironic however that they complain about monetizing, when in all likelihood they obtain their roms illegally.

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