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Fan-made Rick and Morty game, Piccled Ricc, removed from Steam

Shines light on Steam’s asset flipping problem

Pickle Rick Adult Swim

A fan-made Rick and Morty PC game, Piccled Ricc, was pulled from the Steam store today following a copyright strike from Adult Swim the developer is currently fighting against.

The game came into prominence earlier this week after major YouTubers in the gaming scene, including PewDiePie and Jim Sterling, uploaded playthroughs of the game. In the game, players take control of Pickle Rick (a character who came into prominence during the most recent Rick and Morty season), fight giant rats and explore various environments.

Developer Ata Berdyev told Polygon that Steam required him to remove his content until the copyright complaint issue is revolved. However, Berdyev argued that he developed the game as a parody, which is typically protected under copyright law.

“It was that time where Pickle Rick was [a] pretty hyped up thing, so I decided to make my own parody about it,” Berdyev said. “What I mean by parody is that I tried to make sure I didn't cross any line as far as legality goes; thus why I altered the name and character himself, to try to make him look differently than from the cartoon. It's crazy that this have happened, but there is nothing much I can really do.”

Piccled Ricc was released on Oct. 30, but was heavily teased through Steam’s Community page before then. The game didn’t really come into prominence, however, until later in the week, following PewDiePie and Sterling’s gameplay videos. Berdyev said that he wasn’t sure if the attention the well-known YouTubers brought to the game was what tipped off Adult Swim. Polygon asked Adult Swim for more information on the copyright strike, but the company declined to comment.

For Berdyev, the issue goes beyond his game being taken down. The developer said Valve also terminated his contract with the platform, and the rest of his games were taken down following the strike against Piccled Ricc.

“I am currently trying to get back on Steam platform and would really like to continue working with Valve,” Berdyev said. Polygon has reached out to Valve for comment on the situation, and will update when we hear back.

Piccled Ricc isn’t the first of Berdyev’s Steam game that have gotten him into trouble. The developer has been accused of “asset flipping,” a process whereby cheap games are quickly built using pre-made assets and very little original work, in the past. These games are usually uploaded to the platform through the Steam Direct system, which allows developers to apply to self-publish their games.

Valve defines asset flipping uploads as fake games and has already removed hundreds of offenders. The company told Polygon last month that it had built an entire team focused on dealing with shovelware titles like Piccled Ricc, and would cut ties with developers found guilty of asset flipping going forward. Fidget Spinner Simulator, which Berdyev allegedly uploaded to Steam earlier this year, is an example of an asset-flipped, low-quality shovelware title that was built and sold for low costs.

Underneath Sterling’s Piccled Ricc gameplay video, commenters pointed out that the levels in Piccled Ricc were lifted directly from Unity.

“It’s literally the demo scene for a premade Unity character control and animation system,” one commenter wrote. “They even kept the stock overlay explaining the controls.”

Berdyev told Polygon that he knows he has a reputation for creating these types of games, which members of the Steam community have been riling against, but is trying to change that.

“A lot of people know of my past and the titles I have released,” Berdyev said. “I believe that I got rid of my negativity and actually started focusing on my community and audience, and really tried to listen to everybody and add whatever in game that will be enjoyable to others.”

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