Pokémon DMCA wave kills biggest fan game hub and its 10 years of projects

Seeing Pokémon or Nintendo projects shut down isn’t uncommon but the newest wave of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedowns nuked one of the biggest community hubs for Pokémon fan projects online, destroying 10 years of shared creative work—on top of other removals. 

Relic Castle has been the center of Pokémon ROM hacks and fan games since it was founded in 2014, helping more than 20,000 members connect in their love and creative passion for the mega-franchise. Without that hub, it’s unlikely we would have seen the developers and teams behind some of the biggest Pokémon projects meet and create those games—meaning thousands would have missed out on those fan-fuelled experiences.

Volcarona in New Pokemon Snap
A rise from the ashes likely won’t happen. Screenshot via The Pokemon Company

On the community’s Discord, one of the admins, Cat, noted the DMCA was sent by a third party on behalf of The Pokémon Company International. It was levelled against the entire website for using “unauthorized copies of copyrighted material,” they explained. This was vastly different from previous DMCAs or takedown notices where singular games, projects, or files needed to be removed from the website or other platforms.

While we don’t have the exact details of this takedown, seeing TPCI authorize this so close to Nintendo suing the devs behind the most popular Nintendo 3DS and Switch emulators—and essentially nuking them from the public-facing internet—is disappointing. Especially since Relic Castle never actively promoted the emulation of Pokémon products and acted as a non-profit place for fans of the franchise to create and share their passion for Pokémon.

“Relic Castle has always been a non-profit, ad-free, tight-knit community and we pride ourselves in what we have achieved,” the Relic Castle team said. “Members have felt at home, made friends, and even careers with us. It is with deep regret that I have to inform you that the forum part of this community, which was to turn 10 years old this year, has had to come to an end. With over 20,000 members and 65,000 posts, Relic Castle was a home to many of us.”

For now, the Relic Castle community has pivoted fully to Discord but the more than forum with hundreds of projects and 65,000 posts is now gone—mostly.

Cat noted the website was backed up and sent to them before it was taken down, ensuring “nothing is truly lost.” Additionally, the team confirmed a good chunk of the websites and files are still visible using the Wayback Machine and urged users to check if their content has been backed up there. No plan has been shared for a new forum launch or a Discord expansion yet, though the team is thankful for the support and wants everyone to focus on putting “love into the world.”

“Thank you all for being with us this last decade, and thank you for making Relic Castle as awesome and life-changing as it has been for some of us,” the Relic Castle team said.

This isn’t the only content removal going on either, as YouTuber NoahJ456 issued a warning to all creators with videos featuring modded Pokémon content to “delete/unlist it ASAP” as his channel was given a manual copyright strike for a Pokémon CoD Zombies video from 2017. This strike was handed out by TPCI directly on March 19, according to the message he received from YouTube, and similar tactics were used for a Pokémon Palworld mod in January. We could see even more fallout in the coming weeks if this DMCA wave continues.

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