Former Nintendo developer spots a game they directed being used without permission in a mobile game ad

Former Nintendo employee and game creator Takaya Imamura spotted a mobile game ad using an image from a Nintendo game without permission and took to Twitter to express his bewilderment. The image in the ad looks to be from Steel Diver: Sub Wars, a game that was developed during Imamura’s time at the company.

Tweet Translation:
What the heck is this?! A Nintendo game is being used in an ad for an unrelated app! And it’s a game I directed!

Steel Diver: Sub Wars was released by Nintendo for the 3DS in 2014 and is the second title in the Steel Diver series. In the game, players operate realistic submarines as they use sonar to search for enemy ships and sink them with torpedo attacks. In addition to online battles, the game provides a variety of offline single player missions as well.

Takaya Imamura was the director of the title, and over his 32 years at Nintendo, worked in a variety of different roles on various games including art director and producer. Imamura left the company in 2021 and now works as a freelancer and professor at the International Professional University of Technology in Osaka.

From the Steel Diver: Sub Wars official website

From the image Imamura posted, it looks to be an ad video for the mobile game Battle Warship: State running within another mobile game. Battle Warship: State is a game where players command battleships and aircraft carriers in naval strategy battles. Players expand their base, organize their fleet, and sink enemy ships and pirates. The game is operated by Special Gamez/Magic Prime Group Limited, a company that appears to be based in China, and their other releases include titles like the casual puzzle game Kitten Match.

Battle Warship: State also includes submarines, and the scene Imamura pointed out as being used without permission is likely an ad to showcase that. While Steel Diver: Sub Wars and Battle Warship: State both share the theme of naval battles, as described above, the gameplay of each game is completely different. It looks like Steel Diver: Sub Wars is being used as marketing material without permission for a game in a completely different genre.

Tweet Translation:
This is the game they took footage from! Sure is nostalgic. I wonder how MariChan is doing.

Ads for mobile games are often seen in other free-to-play mobile games, YouTube videos, and promoted tweets on Twitter. There are also cases where they use scenes and images that don’t appear in the game as a way to entice players, with footage and images often being taken from other companies’ games and used as promotional material.

It’s also been pointed out that there are ads for Battle Warship: State that take from Battlefield 2042, so it looks like Steel Diver: Sub Wars isn’t the only game being damaged by the mobile game ads.

Sites like Twitter and YouTube provide features to report PR videos, so copyright holders are able to report ads to deal with them. In this case, since the director of the original game spotted it and gathered evidence, the advertising side likely wouldn’t be able to talk their way out of any copyright claims. If the issue has been reported to whoever is running the ad, it will probably be taken care of in some manner.

Written by. Nick Mosier based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2022-08-18 18:52 JST)