In April, developer Tyson “TJ ATOMICA” Butler-Boschma posted a simple Unreal Engine 5 demo on itch.io where players use a Superman-like character to fly through a generic urban environment. Using the free content provided by Epic, including the cities from the demo Matrix AwakensBoschma launched the project as a simple proof-of-concept next-gen superhero game.
An identical looking game from Hero Game Studios called Heroes City Superman Edition it appeared on Steam in early November, initially for $35 but later for $11.
The title’s Steam page promised a long list of ambitious upcoming features, such as multiplayer, vehicles, character customization, and the ability to travel to different planets.
After purchasing and playing the game, Boschma claimed it was a fraudulent attempt to sell his demo. While anyone could theoretically use the same free Unreal Engine resources to create a similar project, Boschma has confirmed that the game’s messages and cape physics are identical to his work.
Hero Game Studios claimed that Boschma is a former member of their team who raised claims against the game for money, which he vehemently denies. They also filed a copyright claim against Boschma’s YouTube videos from a demo released back in April. Other channels like Gameranx (embed above) and IGN also have videos from that era. Hero City however, he only has a Twitter account created in September.
The team that stole my free superman demo and are selling it on Steam, are now copyright claiming my content on @YouTube as well…
They are straight up attacking and harassing me at this point and I don't feel safe providing my personal information for a counter claim… pic.twitter.com/dqd0oHjul4
— Tyson Butler-Boschma (@TJATOMICA) November 14, 2022
Listing for Hero City disappeared from Steam, possibly due to a DMCA lawsuit filed by the author. However, the fact that it passed Valve’s certification process and was on Steam for two weeks is a bit of a concern.
The case shows that potentially any work available for free without DRM can be copied and sold on a major marketplace without the consent of the original creator. Some small developers may not have the resources to fight such scams.