We tried. Oh my God, did we try. We tried all the time, in this institution, but Air Control still made it to Steam. It’s still horrible. Remember when we had concerns about The War Z being so far below the bar of quality, it was an affront to the digital storefront? Air Control eclipses that very notion. Here’s a gameplay clip. We get mad; it’s beyond our control.
What’s laid out here has not been overseen, even in the slightest, by anyone at Valve or even vetted by any third party they could easily outsource this to. If they did, they would’ve noticed either the blown up fonts, the crude clipping through everything, the static character models, the un-moving people, the unreadable text, the plethora of typing errors or the downright broken game elements. This is a game that’s being sold today, in equal line with developers and companies who struggled to make a game to the best of their ability. Air Control is so unhinged; it barely resembles a game, let alone being labeled as such.
Moving on from the lamentation, there is another element in which Air Control fails: Upholding copyright restrictions. When it first landed on the Steam store, users pointed out a series of copyright violations, such as using airline logos, unauthorized use of music and showing a character model with logos from other games. In this case, it showed a model that has a crest from The Legend of Zelda on its armor; a property owned by Nintendo. It’s at the 14 minute mark in the video. We all know how much you’d pay attention to something that’s 20 minutes long otherwise.
After a brief search, it looks like the model in question is a poorly optimized version of the “3dFoin Royal Knight,” which can be found in the Unity Asset Store for $15. This is where things get sad: In reality, this means that Air Control could make the use of this character, bearing the Zelda crest, borderline acceptable. We’re assuming they paid for its use in the Unity Asset Store; the developer didn’t maliciously create a copyright violating item themselves. “Borderline” should not be your target goal, when dealing with the creation of games that could be making use of other people’s properties. It hasn’t removed that music we mentioned either.
Back to that character: All of that would be on the precipice of acceptable, if the developer of Air Control hadn’t already been made aware of the possible infringement. At first, the character was simply shown on the storefront. For the longest time, it stayed there, but it has since been removed, after these concerns were put on the Steam forums.
Then, to squash any discrepancies, all traces of those complaints were erased. That would indicate that the copyright issues are a potential thing to worry about.
Even so, the developer chose to keep those assets in the game that’s being sold on Steam at this very moment. A game that holds within it content owned by Nintendo, but created by a third party and purchased for commercial use.
That’s how dubious Air Control is. Just because someone else made it, doesn’t mean you should be able to use game content of another owner in your game. We very much doubt this can be argued as transformative use.
And the worst part? That’s the tip of the iceberg. In the rest of the game, there is a variety of different, extremely borderline content, like screenshots from official in-flight magazines, the use of company logos and images, ripped audio from company videos; it doesn’t stop. Even if a part of it were legitimate, the sum of this nonchalance with other people’s property would make it despicable in itself. Here’s a quick clip that details a bunch, but not all, issues:
Steam has allowed this game to be put on its storefront. Let’s not forget that fact. This isn’t a “Greenlight” issue. It’s an issue that can easily be assessed in what quality a certain product exists, before it launches, regardless of where it originated.
Note: This piece was written on Monday, May 25, 2014. Since then, I got in touch with Jim Sterling of The Escapist, who previously expressed interest in covering Air Control in a YouTube video. That eventually lead to recording a Jimquisition critique video. In light of that occurrence, it was decided to hold off any of these critiquing articles, so that the momentum necessary to bring this to light wouldn’t get caved in over several smaller instances during the week; instead going mainly through Jim Sterling’s effort, where it can reach the audience this matter needs.
If you haven't yet, go watch the Jimquisition on Air Control this instant.