Indie dev claims Candy Crush studio stole its game

Matthew Cox says King.com "blatantly copied" its Pac-Man-esque avoider game Scamperghost in 2009 after publishing negotiations fell through.

Matthew Cox of indie studio Stolen Goose has accused Candy Crush developer King.com of "blantantly" copying its game Scamperghost in 2009 after publishing negotiations fell through.

"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," Cox wrote on his website.

To back up his claim, Cox first provided numerous images of Scamperghost and Pac-Avoid which show that the Pac-Avoid instruction menu, user interface, and gameplay are all very similar to Scamperghost.

He also explains the situation surrounding Stolen Goose's negotiations with King representatives in 2009. At the time, Cox and company met with King to discuss a possible licensing arrangement, but before the deal was closed (and before contracts were signed, he says), website MaxGames.com made a better offer.

"So we thanked King for considering our game and politely ended our negotiations," Cox said of the 2009 business meeting.

After this meeting, Cox claims King "retaliated" against the two-man studio by making a "direct clone" of Scamperghost and nearly releasing it before Stolen Goose was able to. "We only got ours out sooner because a friend close with the company contacted us privately to warn us in advance," Cox said.

Cox also published an email supposedly from King.com's vice president of mobile games Lars Jornow, which quotes the executive as saying, "We're sorry our deal didn't turn out with you guys." Because Stolen Goose backed out of the deal, King was left without such an "avoider" game that it had already planned into its business plan. Thus, Jornow said, "We needed an avoider game and sponsored a similar game."

But Cox says King's arrangement was more than just a "sponsorship of a similar game." In fact, Cox tracked down a member of studio Epic Shadow--contracted by King to make Pac-Avoid--who told him that King reached out asking them to "clone" Scamperghost.

That's not the full story, though. Matt Porter of Epic Shadow told Venturebeat that his team was paid $3,000 for Pac-Avoid and mentioned that Stolen Goose "probably did something that wasn't perfectly ethical." Even if that was the case, Porter said it doesn't justify what King asked Epic Shadow to do--that is "clone the game," he said.

"Scamperghost isn't the most original game in the world. It's obviously inspired by Pac-Man but we at least took it in an original direction by making it a mouse avoider with no walls," Cox said.

"King.com, however, showed no respect for other people's intellectual property when they made a direct, blatant clone of Scamperghost," he added. "Now they've trademarked 'Candy' and are using their massive legal power against other small competing developers. A bit of a double-standard, eh?"

King has not commented on the matter.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that King filed a notice of opposition against Stoic Studios' The Banner Saga, claiming that The Banner Saga is "confusingly and deceptively similar" to Candy Crush Saga. The company says it filed the notice as a means to fend off copycats and is not trying to stop The Banner Saga. Stoic Studios has vowed to fight.

Written By

Discussion

99 comments
skyx26
skyx26

Aaaaand that proves that when you go shitting people around, sometimes the shit comes back for you...

N-bellic
N-bellic

King and their shitty candy game can go to hell. Honestly these piss poor "games" are a blight on the industry. (That doesn't include indie games by the way)

psuedospike
psuedospike

Candy Crush is the same old bullshit game that's been made for phones for years, it's a variant of a million other shit games.

Another frivolous lawsuit and a waste of everyone's time.

June-GS
June-GS

"...A bit of a double-standard, eh?" -- I thought he was gonna say,  "a bit of a douchebag, eh?"

forneverbdocked
forneverbdocked

Intellectual Property rights are dumb. Just let everyone use and make whatever they want. Ideas don't belong to anyone.

Bandock
Bandock

Reminds me of another story that involved actual code theft.  Does Wacky Wheels and Skunny Kart ring a bell anyone? (Latter using stolen code and made by the company that rejected the creators of the former's ideas in the first place).

leikeylosh
leikeylosh

BURN, YOU CANDY CRUSH MOTHERF*CKERS!!

hadlee73
hadlee73

If I remember correctly it was Stolen Goose's decision to back out of the publishing deal in order to try to get more money with another publisher, leading King to go to another developer to ask for an "avoider" game to be created to replace the one they lost.

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

Hey, those guys blatantly copied the game that we rightfully stole from Pac-Man.

How dare they?!

Matt-Porter
Matt-Porter

Hey everyone, Matt here. I was the developer contacted to create the clone "Pac Avoid" for King back in 2009. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask, and I'll see if I can clear up any details.

RicanV
RicanV moderator moderator

RIP Originality 2006

Phrase_Universe
Phrase_Universe

The universe is correcting itself. Some call it karma. 

mattcake
mattcake

The irony of a load of rip off artists arguing about who ripped off who, when they all ripped off someone else anyway. Just STFU.

aci808
aci808

King shouldn't talk, isn't Candy Crush just a rip-off of Bejeweled? All of these mobile games are total copies of earlier PC games.

deadpeasant
deadpeasant

King is making a lot of enemies. I think indie developers need to band together to fight these big corporations. I'm sure something can be done like creating some kind of watchdog organisation that fights for their rights. I hope it happens anyway.

Takeno456
Takeno456

Wow, more great things that this new mobile/free/browser/casual gaming revolution is bringing to us all... Do people really think this kind of thing is the future of gaming? 

Trev9421
Trev9421

I want to know who owns the patent/trademark/whatever for Bejeweled. I would love to see them come out of the woodwork.

Edit: I looked it up and found out game mechanics can't be patented. As long as the art style is different you can make the exact same game.

SphinxDemon
SphinxDemon

Lol what's with all these developers suing each other these days. Up until recently I haven't seen such a prevalent amount of cases. Starving for money much ? Of course I'm no full fledged developer YET but if my source code is blatantly copied than I guess I would have a fit.

PC 4 lyfe

Vegeta1120
Vegeta1120

@psuedospike had that been you coding it, you wouldn't feel that way. if its your *varient* its still yours no one has the right to throw you under the bus and you not get paid.

Vegeta1120
Vegeta1120

@forneverbdocked 1. your being highly sarcastic 2. your a complete idiot. ideas do belong to you thats why they have patents 

poster012
poster012

@forneverbdocked Sure, that way, companies with 1000 times more marketing power can simply steal any indie idea they want, effectively taking sales away from the people who actually came up with the idea. It's not the best system, but there needs to be something in place.

megagood2345
megagood2345

@hadlee73 You seem to be suggesting that Stolen Goose going with the highest bidder gave the lower bidder some right to rip them off.  I really hope I'm misunderstanding you.  

Matt-Porter
Matt-Porter

@hadlee73 I'm the one who made said avoider game "Pac Avoid". Pac Avoid was not created beforehand, it was a direct request of King that I make the game, and as closely as possible to the original.

KBABZ
KBABZ

@Matt-PorterMy question is how is this similar to the days in the 90s with every FPS being labelled Doom clones? I'm guessing it's the actual direct copying of an existing game, right?

Rakou
Rakou

@RicanV In 2007 we saw A LOT of epic games (to name a few):


Lost Planet

Wii play

Supreme Commander

Crackdown

Peggle

Super Paper Mario

Shadowrun

Dirt

The Darkness

Overlord

Bioshock

World in Conflict

The Witcher 

Super Mario Galaxy

Crysis

Assassins Creed

Mass Effect

Rock Band


So I disagree with your statement. 2007 was the best year for gaming.

zeek_fox
zeek_fox

@aci808 Ah...no.  There are some similar elements, but the gameplay itself is quite different.  Bejeweled is a lot more tailored towards higher scores and allowing players to get better by being faster.  Candy Crush Saga is a lot more goal-oriented, with things like stopping the spreading chocolate or breaking through frosting barriers with a move count.  Yes, Bejeweled 3 has some "do this in X moves" challenges, but that's a small part of it.  And while Candy Crush has some timed modes, there's only so much speed involved since you cannot make a move until the chain reaction of the previous move has completed itself.

Plus, like, the powerup system.  4 in a row = bomb on Bejeweled, row or column blast on Candy Crush.  T- or L-shape = row+column blast in Bejeweled, bomb x 2 in Candy Crush.  In Bejeweled (Blitz or 3- Lightning mode), you get blazing speed for making fast enough matches, in Candy Crush you can combine adjacent powerups.  To a puzzle gamer, that sort of stuff really changes the game.

uncle5555
uncle5555

@aci808Funny you mention that, considering many early PC titles were blatant rip off or clones of arcade titles.  

What goes around comes around eh?

megagood2345
megagood2345

@Takeno456 You seem to be suggesting that this never happens with PC games or console games.  

forneverbdocked
forneverbdocked

@poster012@forneverbdocked If the indie version is better, people will use it. The indie doesn't get to have ownership over it and refuse to let anyone else develop a better version of it.

hadlee73
hadlee73

@megagood2345@hadlee73 King wanted a game with a particular type of gameplay, and when Stolen Goose went elsewhere King moved forward to make their own game that created the same experience. Its a statement of fact with no hidden meaning or suggestive agenda behind it. You're seeing something in my comment that just plainly doesn't exist.

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@leikeylosh  That would be a very bad move.  You basically cannot sue people who have infinitely larger funds to draw on than you do.  Their lawyers will just protract the case into oblivion and continue to propose motion after motion, milking any opposition dry long before any ruling can be laid down... and the copyright laws are so hazy that there's no guarantee a ruling would be against King.... it's all a pretty F'd up situation, same as what Stoic is currently dealing with.

Matt-Porter
Matt-Porter

@johnners2981 If you look at my account sign-up date, you'd see I've been around quite awhile. That aside, yes I am indeed the same one mentioned in this article, which is why I offered to answer any questions people have regarding the issue, GameSpot staff included.

Sefrix
Sefrix moderator moderator

@uncle5555 And racing games copy each other, and FPS's copy each other, etc etc. The point to take home is not that you can build great games by looking at games that have come out before hand (that's how the whole technology industry works) but that there is a difference between inspiration and saying "That's a good idea!" an "Let's take that idea and add nothing to it."

poster012
poster012

So, you agree with the practices of Zynga?

helldragonzer
helldragonzer

@forneverbdocked@poster012Not true, ppl will use the version by the company with the power to promote the product, that's what marketing is for, and that's why Intellectual Property rights exists, to protect the small town indie dev with the big ideas from the big companies with no ideas.

June-GS
June-GS

@hadlee73@megagood2345 Agreed. But this is where copyright laws get murky, and the misunderstandings come in. To other people, your phrase "create the same experience" MAY mean "rip off" or "clone", but to you, it MAY not. The former phrase sounds a bit better, but the latter two sounds bad, if not totally illegal. That's probably why he/she asked you for clarification.  :)

Rakou
Rakou

@nl_skipper @leikeylosh 


I dont care about the Banner Saga, but I'll be buying that $25 game so that Stoic can have a little more money to use to fight King. I know it wont be much, but every bit counts