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'Yu-Gi-Oh!' Fans Fight to Keep Its Unsanctioned, Online Version Alive

The shutdown of the long-running YGOPro client follows the shutdown of the year-old Dueling Network only a few months ago.
July 9, 2016, 5:00pm
Image: MegaCapitalG.

Most people were celebrating the release of Pokémon Go this week, but fans of another popular Japanese collecting game, Konami's trading card game Yu-Gi-Oh!, got some bad news. YGOPro, the popular PC- and mobile-based, fan-made dueling client for the series, is no more. Today the main site states that the free app is no longer available for unspecified "legal reasons," and that, it would appear, is that.

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Normally such cease-and-desist letters lead to full ceasing and desisting, as we saw earlier this year with the closure of the popular fan-maintained World of Warcraft server Nostalrius. But as YouTuber Randall "MegaCapitalG" Jordan noted in a video from yesterday, there's a bit of civil disobedience going on behind the scenes in this case. Even though YGOPro has been taking off of the main site, he shows in the video, it still works fine and (get this) there was even an update after the closure that introduced at least four new cards.

Mr. G. acknowledges that accusations of piracy were probably the reason for the takedown, and he speaks at length about his memories of the legal action taken against Napster in the late '90s and how little it did to curb piracy of books and films. The same, he maintains, will be true of YGoPro. It is, after all, an open source program, and thus not so easily regulated as a product from a proper company or individual. To that end, he even created a Dropbox account specifically to host the working file. (It's currently disabled on account of all the traffic.)

"I don't understand why they would stop [maintaining YGoPro]," he says in the video. "The people who ran [the similar] DevPro and YGOPro, they weren't making money to begin with."

It's not even fully clear who actually called for the shutdown at this point. The easiest guess would be Konami, which has been making a name for itself for bizarro decisions for much of the past two years. But that, according to some sleuthing from a NeoGAF user named HypnoDarkrai, isn't exactly the case. The culprit instead is likely Nihon Ad Systems (NAS), which manages many of the rights for the Yu-Gi-Oh! series for Konami. Back in March NAS sent a cease-and-desist letter to Dueling Network for its similar user-made Yu-Gi-Oh! dueling setup, which had been around since 2011 and boasted more than four million users at its height. It seems reasonable to assume they're behind this as well. At the time, Dueling Network was careful to inform its users that Konami itself wasn't the third-party requesting the takedown.

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But Konami, make no mistake, is getting the brunt of the blame.

"Konami is literally doing their best to commit suicide," said user Jacob Zuniga in the Yugioh Memes 2.0 group on Facebook. "Do they really think this will help them? Idiots are just making themselves more hated."

Image: Dueling Network

There are some other users who complain that the physical cards are too expensive and that the technical loss of YGOPro removes their ability to play, but others have a more convincing argument, in that YGOPro allowed them to learn the rules in a comparatively relaxed environment before tackling the real cards with real people. (That, admittedly, was my own experience with Magic: The Gathering, as I didn't build up the confidence to play against real people until I'd mastered the new Duels of the Planeswalkers video game series.)

All of which is to say that now's the perfect time for a quality Yu-Gi-Oh! dueling game for PCs and mobile devices. And maybe it's on the way, and that's the reason for the sudden flurry of shutdowns.

Considering that Konami seems more interested in making pachinko slot games out of some of its highest grossing properties rather than video games lately, I wouldn't get my hopes up.