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.

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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.

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