Brutal Ace's "Shower Time" mod for Juri in Street Fighter V (via YouTube)
Last week, two prominent creators of Street Fighter nude mods and costume mods said they received takedown notices from Capcom. The two modders in question, who go by Brutal Ace and Khaledantar666, both had Patreon pages that solicited donations from fans.
Brutal Ace and Khaledantar666's mods often make use of other copyrighted properties. One of Brutal Ace's mods features Chun-li in a Wonder Woman costume. Khaledantar666's most recent creation clothes Cammy in 2B's costume from Nier: Automata.
But both modders may be best known for their mods featuring Street Fighter's female fighters in the buff or in string bikinis. Brutal Ace's lineup also includes several specialised risqué mods, such as barefoot mods and breast jiggling mods.
Khaledantar666's Patreon page has since been deleted, along with any record of his earnings, but last March, iSports Times reported that his $US50 ($63) pledge level on Patreon allowed supporters to receive "whatever request they want Khaledantar666 to do for Street Fighter V."
User comments on this screenshot of Khaledantar666's final Patreon post claim he charged anywhere from $US30 ($38) to $US50 ($63) for nude mods. In the post, Khaledantar666 promised that donors would still receive their backer rewards via email. (Khaledantar666 did not respond to repeated requests for comment.)
In contrast, Brutal Ace says he has always offered his mods as free downloads. However, Brutal Ace's Patreon supporters did receive one week of advanced exclusive access to all new mods.
Brutal Ace's mod of Chun-li as Wonder Woman
Since video game mods feature copyrighted materials, it's not legal to charge for them. The existence of Brutal Ace and Khaledantar666's Patreon pages drew ire online from the Street Fighter mod fandom, since fans are used to getting all mods for free. Brutal Ace blames those detractors for the shutdown of his modding Patreon.
In an emailed statement to Compete, Brutal Ace confirmed that Capcom had sent him a takedown notice, and he theorised that "the ruckus on Reddit caused it," elaborating: "It wasn't my intention to keep Patreon hidden from Capcom, because I still think that Capcom supports PC modding even if indirectly, but the reason why I got targeted is because of the fuss over Reddit."
However, Brutal Ace claims all of his mods were free, as long as users could stand to wait a week. "I wasn't charging anyone," he told Compete. "I am sure my supporters would be fine if had I decided to release [mods] at the same time as for Patrons. It was only me who wanted to reward those supporters with one week exclusivity."
Brutal Ace is not retiring permanently from the Street Fighter mod scene. "I am planning to continue creating these mods for my supporters and I will share them for free to everyone whenever I'll return from my break," he said, "Though right now, I don't have enough motivation to do anything for the toxic part of this community, and this break will probably help me."
Khaledantar666 has also continued to make mods, although his Patreon page is no longer active. In a post on his DeviantArt page, he wrote, "Capcom issued a DMCA notice to take down my Patreon page ... this said, I will continue modding like nothing happened and expect to see new mods from me very soon."
As promised, Khaledantar666 has since released several new mods via his Facebook page. He has also put up a link to his Paypal for further donations.
Brutal Ace sees his mods as being similar to fan art: "If you ask a famous hobby artist to draw a high quality painting of Chun-li in your favourite clothing, then most likely he/she is going to charge you up front without worrying about who owns Chun-li. This and many other ways of generating income from fan art are present on [the] internet."
However, fan artists can also be subject to copyright takedown notices, particularly if they start making enough money to catch the eye of copyright holders. Brutal Ace told Compete that he used his modding donations to purchase "an expensive laptop" as well as "some 3D models on TurboSquid and get official Capcom DLC for modding purposes."
Since he has a day job, Brutal Ace is less worried about the loss of income and more about how he has "faced a lot of hate" from the modding community, which he called a "serious setback." He claimed to spend "4-5 hours every day, or even more" on modding Street Fighter characters for his fans -- a lot of time to spend on a hobby with no payment in return.
Street Fighter nude mods may not be high art, but there's no doubt that Brutal Ace and Khaledantar666 are doing a form of specialised work that's in high demand. Other game companies, most recently Bethesda, have also struggled to capitalise on the existence of modding communities who want to be paid for their work. Compete reached out to Capcom for more information about their crackdown on paid mods and will update this story with more details as they arise.