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Consider a Trading Card Game that is currently available for play in digital format only, the game in question would be HEX: Shards of Fate, but this question is intended as a general question about all Trading Card Games.
Now my idea is to create an AI player for that game and see how good it performs. For this I'll need to build a client that is capable of playing the game and initially I want to test it myself and distribute it to a few friends so they can play around with it.
I am myself unsure of whether the EULA specific to this game are of any importance, as I believe all games will try to protect their games to the fullest extent as possible. However we also know that there are fansites out there which are allowed (are they legally allowed?) to display the cards of the game (including artwork) as long as they have a clear reference to the game which it is about and they do not attempt to make any money out of the cards themselves. I do believe that premium services on a fansite itself are legal.
Ultimately I want to create a fansite where:
- There is an obvious reference that the cards, etc. belong to the company that created the game.
- You can as player play versus an AI, using a game interface that is similar to the one that is in the actual digital version. It most likely won't be an exact 1:1 copy and some substitute interface will be used that doesn't look as nice.
- Playing versus the AI is not promoted as an actual game, it is just a site where you can test your skill as player, and as creator I can test the effectiveness of the AI.
- All cards are freely available to any player, I most surely do not intend to monetize that part.
- There is possibly a premium service that offers benefits, possibly more detailed statistics or more AI matches, more options, etc.
So I've got the following questions about this:
- Is the limited distribution amongst myself and friends legal?
- Is this fansite legal without the premium service?
- Is the premium service legal?
- Would selling booster packs (where you can obtain the cards) and having the player start with a minimal collection actually be illegal?