An independent developer this week created a modification for the video game “Fallout 4” that lets players fight mutants in a post-apocalyptic Boston using a character in a Red Sox jersey bearing David Ortiz’s name.
But Major League Baseball officials are ruling it foul.
“The use of these marks is an infringement of our rights. We plan to enforce those rights,” an MLB spokesman said in an e-mail Thursday.
Richie Branson, the Texas resident who created the modification for “Fallout 4,” said the free download was meant to add a “more authentic” Boston feel to the game.
“Basically, I think it was the only thing missing from the game. You’ve got Fenway Park, the Green Monster, and all of Boston, but there weren’t any Red Sox jerseys,” he said.
Branson was surprised to learn of the MLB’s reaction, since modifications are a common practice in the world of gaming.
“I’m not trying to sell this counterfeit Red Sox jersey. I’m putting a free Red Sox graphic into a game that already insinuates the Red Sox are in the game, at Fenway Park,” Branson said.
Modifications, or “mods,” are game features created by outside developers, and are often encouraged by the gamemakers themselves.
“This is something that has been going on for years and years. People are non-commercially modifying games all the time,” Branson said.
“Fallout 4” was released this week by Bethesda Game Studios on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. The game takes players through a futuristic, doomed Boston, where city landmarks are crumbling and decayed, and mutants roam free.
Spots like the State House, Boston Public Library, Boston Common, and Hatch Memorial Shell are included in the game.
When players enter “Diamond City,” a rundown Fenway Park that has become a shelter for a town of survivors, they can purchase a plain baseball jersey for their character to wear.
Branson decided to give the jersey some Boston flair, so he modified the game sequence.
Branson said he extracted the texture files from the game’s archives and then used his photoshop skills to add details like the Red Sox logo and Ortiz’s name and number to the uniform. He also added a red letter “B” to the helmet.
“Ortiz is a heavy hitter, man. I love his ability to hit. He’s big, he’s massive — so I figured he’d be the right one to survive the apocalypse,” Branson said Thursday morning. “You can wear it through the whole game.”
He had planned to include other modifications featuring an array of notable Red Sox players’ uniforms.
But Branson said Thursday afternoon that if he hears from the MLB about the removal of his download, he will “begrudgingly” comply.
“I’m not rich enough to even think about taking it to court,” he said.
The MLB spokesman would not elaborate further on what action the league plans to take. But infringement cases often lead to correspondence between the offending party and the rights holders, followed by cease-and-desist orders.
Branson hopes it doesn’t go any further than that.
“I’m not making any money off of it. I’m the little guy. It would be in bad taste for them,” Branson said. “We know Ortiz is not a zombie-killing, post-apocalyptic warrior. And that’s what makes it funny.”Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.