ToonTown: Project Altis' controversy and lawsuit
After Disney's Toontown Online closed down on September 19, 2013, many private servers, later on took the place of the original Toontown. These private servers include Toontown Rewritten, Corporate Clash, Infinite, Offline, Operation Desert Storm, and many more. Disney, as noted does not care about those private servers at all because they replicate for nostalgia, with one notable exception due to a potential of money-making forms from them...
One of the Toontown private servers was nicknamed Project Altis. Unlike the other private servers, Project Altis's goal was to provide new original and custom content, such as additional species, and new gags (attacks in Toontown). Dubito, one of the major staff members working for the private server called Project Altis, has been notorious for strange ideas and hacking issues. Dubito was the main server owner of the Toontown private server called Project Altis. One of those issues including failing to patch hackers' exploits, and other malicious material like that. As the hackers continued to roam on the server, it was because that Dubito refused to give out any server details to the other staff. Dubito had the audacity to submit the game to a gaming convention called Insomnia60 but was later rejected. Dubito, as one of the major directors, was infamous for ignoring his fellow staff members, thinking he can do everything on his own, and he was known for shrugging off everything that tries to get in his way.
The worst issue was that on March 29, 2017, Dubito, under the name of "Dubit" on Steam, decided to submit the game on Steam Greenlight likely as in an attempt to get more players. As seen from screenshots, Project Altis's Steam page consisted of LoopyGoopyG (a Toontown YouTuber)'s portrait, some random videos, and screenshots that were stolen from YouTubers and from within the game. He also stated that there was a Mac port when a Mac port didn't exist yet. While a lot of people bashed this idea because it could cause the risk of every other private server being shut down, some people like Megasnoop (another Toontown YouTuber) defended the idea, claiming it might attract more players/revenue/popularity. Many people expressed major fears of Project Altis being shut down, or even worse, Disney might see the private servers as a threat to their creative work; leading to the potential end of Toontown itself. Some also speculated that the private servers like Rewritten are actually illegal and Disney has been gracious enough to stray away from them as long as they weren't making any profit off of it. Even Jesse Schell supported Rewritten and has been noted in ReplayFX 2017.
Dubito, seeing the complaints, decided to go on a deleting spree to remove as any evidence/complaints that Disney is going to take action against them as their way of admitting that Disney does not care about being on Steam, which so far hasn't been a real answer. A day later, a message popped up on the Steam page saying that a DMCA notice has been filed against the Steam page itself. Some people were confused; "was it Disney that sent the DMCA?" Dubito, as noted on the Discord claims that some troll filed against it, and admitted that he's trying to work out the DMCA and remove it, as the DMCA was filed by someone under the alias of "Flippy McToon". However, Dubito failed and the game was later taken down from Steam. What made this worse was that the DMCA wasn't really from Disney, but rather a hater which ironically successfully took the game down despite not being from Disney, which was the actual owner of Toontown Online.
The game was later taken down, and the very likely reason that the game could cause trouble for everyone was that the game was actually a private server, not a full separate game itself, and there was a high potential that they could make profit/money off of it. Because of the major policy of Steam Greenlight said "you must have full ownership of the product you make, no exceptions", there could've still been a chance that the Valve staff may be confused on whether or not it was a full ownership or not, leading to a potential unfair approval. Because of how the system runs on automatic and not actual staff, it was more likely that the game likely slips it's way to Steam than likely get rejected most of the time by bots which bribe votes to shovelware projects. Even if the game was free, there could've always been ways the project could've made some profit, such as Steam achievements that also would be sold for money, and other merchandise and findings that can still run even from a free game with no microtransactions.
Dubito himself was later fired from Project Altis, and after a few more months, new staff was hired to replace him. Many of the issues caused by the Steam controversy were poor staffing, poor decisions, and poor risk-taking. However, in December 2017, Dubito got revenge by creating a backdoor that destroyed Toontown: Project Altis's servers as he was the former server owner that managed to strike back. This incident left a mark on the Toontown community as one of the worst moments to exist in the history of Toontown; alongside the Infinite hacking group, and Maverick's Python exploits/bot swarms on Online.
It has been noted that Disney in response renewed the trademark for Toontown Online, likely to be a response to the Steam drama that has been going on. It has also been overtly considered that Disney had filed a DMCA, as they have done with Club Penguin, but Dubito did not want to address this.
Jesse Schell, despite having support in Rewritten, is currently neutral on the Steam situation but has declined to comment.
Rumors spread that Dubito had sued Project Altis ironically, and so the game was later re-branded and re-released as Toontown: Corporate Clash to avoid the cease-and-desist matter.
- Toontown: Project Altis wasn't the first time an MMO private server tried to get its way into Steam. Less than a year ago, a World of Warcraft private server tried to get on Steam as well.