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First of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to read this. It is quite long but I thought it was necessary to have a single post that addresses any misinformation that might occur surrounding this issue.
I have decided to be as honest and upfront about this situation as possible, because I think it’s necessary to do so. In this announcement, I will do my best to only state the facts as they are without filter. It is for this reason, I will share some of what has been communicated to us at the time of writing.
The Current Situation
BigHit Entertainment has contacted us at Aeon Dream Studios for the first time.
Explicitly, an excerpt of what we were told was:
“It is not important if the image is in drawing or in illustrated form so long as the public can recognize that they are a depiction of BTS. We hereby demand that you immediately cease and desist from such unauthorized use of our artist's image.” BigHit Entertainment has additionally cited perceived infringements of intellectual property, copyright and publicity rights and are inquiring to financial data on To the Edge of the Sky.
We know that this news comes as a major disappointment to some. We know that many people will have many different thoughts, feelings and opinions about it. We are sure many of you will wonder what to feel and think about it. There has been many efforts by fans to bring this game to BigHit Entertainment’s attention for positive recognition.
We have always noted, in awe, the tireless and pure efforts of fans, and their enduring support in favor of having TTEOTS become “official”. From the petition with over 8,000 fan signatures for BTS and BigHit to recognize the game, to people emailing BigHit and tweeting at the media for recognition, we have always been touched by the sincere support of these fans.
We thank all of you that tried your very best to have this game recognized in a positive light by BigHit over the past year. And we are deeply sorry to those that will be negatively affected by this outcome. We have always maintained a policy of honesty with our fans, and that’s why we are candidly discussing this issue with you to the extent that we can.
For the people who have supported us, they deserve that much. Without those who worked hard to support us, To the Edge of the Sky would not have continued to exist in the first place. Although words aren’t deep enough to convey our appreciation, thank you.
So What Now?
Aeon Dream Studios has retained legal counsel to protect ourselves from making any missteps and to have a chance to guide this issue to an amicable resolution between both companies. But the fact is, that we would like to save To the Edge of the Sky, which was in fact so close to completion when this situation occurred. Our first thought was to the impact this would have on our fans if we remove the game completely.
We decided to attempt to show BigHit Entertainment that we meant no harm or infringement to their rights. If you look around, you will see that we have already made many changes in order to comply promptly.
To resolve this issue in good faith, we will henceforth ensure BTS’ name does not appear in any-related To the Edge of the Sky marketing on our part. The name is not, nor was ever presented inside the game’s story, so there will be no changes involving that.
Additionally, it is with a heavy heart that we have decided to change the faces of the male Phantom Alpha members as part of a series of changes in the game we are calling Operation: Phoenix, or TTEOTS Phoenix to differentiate the game players have known till now and the new version of To the Edge of the Sky.
We are already working hard to ensure they in no way resemble BTS to the public. We are aware that to some people, the characters’ faces in no way resemble the BTS already. However, as BigHit has taken issue, we can presume that they do not currently agree.
During the length of time it takes to change their faces, we have decided to hide the current character art’s faces in the game itself so that it can be seen that we are attempting to reasonably and promptly comply with their demands, and so that TTEOTS fans will not have to lose access to the story of the game while we are doing so. All and any promotional art that may possibly resemble BTS will be removed or altered.
The characters themselves, having grown up in their own circumstances in a different world already had their own names and backstories. As we have been stating for the past year, they have never been intended to be BTS themselves.
Some minor things may change, regardless, concerning the characters to avoid any reasonable similarities, but we feel confident that the characters stand alone as their own people. We will do our best to change only what’s necessary that BigHit or the public might find similar to BTS, while leaving the characters and world we worked so hard to build intact.
This is not a decision we have taken lightly. We know how much the current game means to many fans. There has been many hours of hard work, sleepless nights and struggle that have gone into perfecting the game to where it is now. It is evident in the art and game itself, and those who have been with us from the very beginning have seen us always continue to strive for improvement.
Being honest, these decisions also double the workload for nearly the entire team working on the game. Our work on the game may now be severely delayed, It is also probable that the scope of the game’s art will need to be scaled back further to accommodate the burden of additional work in our development schedule and added budgetary costs of this situation.
We are working hard to minimize delays and negative effects to the game while still striving to provide a quality experience under pressure. We are and will continue to do our best to minimize any negative impact to our fans while complying with BigHit in order to try and guide this dispute to peaceful solution.
We will keep everyone updated in future blogs on any other major changes that may be needed.
Why To the Edge of the Sky Exists
When we made the decision to continue develop TTEOTS after BigHit did not respond to emails about the game, it was with the hopes that BigHit would see our efforts in the same light as those fans that support us. But as the current situation has presented itself, we are making every effort to address BigHit’s demands regarding their perceived infringed rights. It is not, and has never been our intent to negatively affect anyone with To the Edge of the Sky.
We ask that those reading this understand why we at Aeon Dream developed To the Edge of the Sky in the first place. While we’ve asked fans for funding in order to pay those who would help us continue developing the game, TTEOTS has never been a project created for the purpose of profit.
If it were, it would have been a much less ambitious game, with simplified art and a simple storyline aimed at fanservice. We respect those whom we made this tribute to too much to ever do that, and have tried our best to make a game they could be proud of.
Inspired by those artists music, TTEOTS tries to spread progressive themes, spreading diversity and talking about important environmental and social issues. It is a game made with love and care, with the hope of spreading comfort, love and understanding to all who play it.
We’ve had the pleasure of seeing how excited fans get when there is a release, how much it makes their day and gives them something to look forward to, and have been fortunate enough to receive messages from fans telling us how profoundly the game changed their lives.
Since that day we first gave out promotional art to fans and saw their excitement, we have been honored to work alongside other talented fans desiring to contribute to the project, as well as experienced an outpouring of support and love as we spent the past year pouring out our heart and soul developing the game.
We’d like it if everyone who wants to continue to support us gives those fans who gave, and continue to give their talents to this project their support during difficult time. Like us, they gave their all because they only wanted to show love and appreciation to the artists and the fandom.
No matter the final outcome, we hope that everyone will understand and remember that To the Edge of the Sky was developed as a tribute game to those artists whom we love, and a gift of comfort to our fellow fans who gave it a chance.
Having seen how this game has changed lives, we do not regret making it in the least. We feel as if we’ve achieved our goal up till now of bringing comfort to many fans. We regret only any negative impact on fans that may be caused by this situation.
Despite the amount of work it will take to comply, we hope that we can save To the Edge of the Sky. It is our hopes that, despite the difficult situation surrounding the game, we at Aeon Dream will be able to save the game and complete it for the fans who decide to continue to put their trust in us, while coming to an amicable resolution with BigHit Entertainment. Furthermore, we hope that To the Edge of the Sky is given a chance to fully spread its wings and become an even better game in its own right.
To those of you that have supported us up till now, thank you. Although the outcome was not what many of you were hoping for, it is because of you that we were able to touch the sky. We’ll continue to give our very best for as long as we can.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to our story.
- Ajane J.K. Celestin, CEO