We've All Been Fooled by the 'Firefly MMO' [UPDATE 2]

If you think there's going to be an MMO based on or "inspired by" Firefly, well, you're not alone. So did I yesterday, and we've all been trolled.

[Update] This story has taken a few more turns. The upshot is that it may not be a hoax after all. For the latest, check out this story. We also are hoping to hear back from the creators of this game.

The original post follows in its entirety.

As I wrote on Saturday:

An independent studio said on Tuesday it's got "the well wishes of Fox Entertainment Group" to go ahead with FUO, an MMO inspired by Firefly the much loved sci-fi series Fox canceled after just one season a decade ago.

Yeah, that's bullshit. This morning, in the first revision to this post, I called this a project of The Yes Men, the activists profiled in this documentary available on Netflix. They've impersonated spokesmen for the U.S. government, the World Trade Organization, McDonald's, and others. They surfaced over the summer with this hamhanded video purporting to show a Shell Oil celebration of a new drilling platform gone all wrong.

I'm gonna walk that back, however. While they appear to endorse the project, I don't know if this is The Yes Men's work. It's definitely a troll job. Let someone claim credit or deny responsibility, it doesn't matter. This whole thing is garbage.

That screenshot above of the website for "DarkCryo," the studio behind this, carries a reference to the Yes Men and their logo (lower right). While I was not personally familiar either with the name or that logo. Had I inspected the front, I would have seen a "no rights reserved" disclaimer at the bottom, a rather strong tip that something's bullshit.

So why the hell is someone doing this? The parody appears to be highlighting Kickstarter abuse or the culture of wish fulfillment surrounding it, and a lot of the less worthy projects people seek to fund. The Yes Men have a big anticonsumerism bend in their work. The fact Firefly is a Fox property also helps.

DarkCryo Entertainment, the outfit behind the project, say they'll soon be staging a Kickstarter campaign to fund the game. They had been kicking out news and updates on the project through a Facebook page up until about July, when everything stopped. It seems then the matter got Fox's notice, pulling the plug until now.

In retrospect, I should have been a lot more skeptical. Another publication specializing in MMO coverage picked up the story and referred to an earlier attempt at creating a Firefly MMO that ran afoul of Fox copyrights.

I should have thought about this more critically. Why Fox would, after that, assent to anything that remotely invokes its property, without some sort of licensing or compensation, is extremely farfetched. The costs and consideration of developing an MMO are a lot larger than an indie studio can handle. And then there's that name. Supposedly standing for "Firefly Universe Online," it's probably instead telling us to go fuck ourselves.

Wording on the Facebook page says the game is "inspired" by Firefly and it seems to be going by the FUO name. "A popular alpha launch may re-awaken licensing consideration, in which case we may then include an expansion pack containing derivative content," DarkCryo says. So it sounds like whatever they have planned had to get clear of the show's copyrights and trademarks.

Nope. In the immortal words of Dan Patrick, we've been had.

I have annotated our original report, for context, and updated the post here, but a lot of the comments below, made yesterday, treat the story as fact, keep that in mind.