Are fangames (fighters specifically) legal?

I’ve been wondering this for a while now. I know copyright was a big deal in the C&D for FiM, but would a fan-fighting game be legally possible if it was not being sold for money? I ask because I see things like IWBtG thriving on the Internet despite using a lot of assets from proper releases, and FiM was kind of a far cry from the image Hasbro wanted for the brand. Would something like a fangame for SF or KoF be legal if it was not for profit?

Legally no, however not all companies are hard up on protecting all of their licenses. It depends on what IP you want to work with, who it’s owned by, and how lenient they are. Sometimes you can work something out with the company, like the Megaman X Street Fighter fangame that became an official fangame, but that’s a fairly rare scenario.

The correct course of action in basically all cases is finish the project and THEN announce it, because by that point even if you get a C&D it’s too late.

Being for profit or not isn’t a factor. Ultradavid says it best. The best you can hope is the rightholders just don’t care enough to see you as worth communicating with.

Being added to the Evo charity poll is what killed FiM imo. Hasbro seemed to be ok with the project when it was lowkey.

Well, depends on the IP and the copyright holders. You had the LoL guys never put their foot down on the LoL fighter that was being made (don’t know if the project is still active).

If you’re worried about C&D, contact the dev team of whatever IP you want to create one on, and ask if they are ok with you making a fighting game based on their characters and distributing it as freeware.