Reminiscent of the biblical tale teaching us not to cast the first stone, King.com is now being re-accused of blatantly cloning indie game Scamperghost. The company that created Candy Crush has been on a legal rampage lately, targeting much-smaller indie developers over trademarking issues.
While the Candy Crush studio is busy stomping on others for shamelessly using words like "candy" and "saga" in their games, news of King.com's own transgressions are coming to light. Indie developer Matthew Cox, from the studio Stolen Goose, made a lengthy post yesterday outlining how King cloned their mobile game.
To be more specific, they're talking about an incident in 2009 involving Scamperghost and King's Pac-Avoid. In the post, Cox mentions:
“It’s ironic that King.com is concerned about intellectual property when they so blatantly copied our game Scamperghost with their game “Pac-Avoid” in late 2009. In fact, using “Pac” from Namco’s Pac-Man is exactly the same thing they’re trying to stop people from doing with their “Candy” trademark!”
Cox also includes some emails between Stolen Goose and King.com’s Lars Jörnow. So a few years back, Stolen Goose was talking to King about licensing their Scamperghost game, when the developer decided to go with a better offer from MaxGames. But they backed out before signing any contracts, so the move was well within Stolen Goose's right to make.
However, before Scamperghost could be released, they heard about King's Pac-Avoid. When contacted about the copycat game, King simply mentioned needing an "avoider" game to replace the one Stolen Goose was supposed to make for them. That's when the guys at Stolen decided to contact the Pac-Avoid devs instead, named EpicShadow.
EpicShadow's reply was apologetic, and the studio explained that King told them the previous studio (referring to Stolen Goose) had abandoned them for another company (MaxGames) after already signing a contract with King.
"First off, sorry that we (Andrew and I of EpicShadow) cloned your game for Lars of King.com. I know there’s a ton of rumor as to what happened, so here’s the exact details, you believing them is your decision. Lars approached us one day explaining that you (Stolen Goose) had signed a contract, had been working with him on finishing the deal, and then got a better deal and backed out. As tempting as more cash would be, if contract was signed, douche move. I don’t know if that actually happened, so feel free to clear it up. He asked us to clone the game very quickly, and even wanted to beat the release of the original game."
At the end of the day, we can't know for certain whether Stolen Goose is telling the truth or King actually wound up the slighted party here. Still, King doesn't exactly have the best track record of their own, what with Candy Crush Saga not being the most original game to begin with. Bejeweled, anyone?
King recently managed to trademark the word "candy" for use in video games and clothing. As a result, other mobile devs are being told to remove their games on the App Store. Soon after, King filed a notice of opposition against Stoic Studio over their Kickstarter RPG The Banner Saga, citing Stoic's use of "saga" in the title as reason.