Things are heating up with King.com, who recently filed a trademark 'Notice of Opposition' against Stoic's The Banner Saga for use of a single word. Matt Cox, creator of ScamperGhost, says King.com 'stole his game'.
While acknowledging that Scamperghost "isn't the most original game" he did at least make it unique, but King.com contracted another indie to make a "direct, blatant clone" of his casual title.
King.com claimsis to stop 'true copycats' from using Saga in their titles which would 'confuse' people and therefore hurt their IP.
Matthew Cox of indie Stolen Goose alleges that King.com is actually guilty of copycat theft, saying he spoke with the indie creators of Pac-Avoid and received confirmation they were contacted by publisher King.com to clone the game but to "beat the release of the original game." Stolen Goose was to use King.com's portal for Scamperghost but received a better offer from rival MaxGames.com.
Cox explains they were in negotiations with King vice president of mobile game Lars Jörnow, but then decided to go with MaxGames after they received a better offer. Jornow then emailed Stolen Goose to tell them they've sponsored a similar game, which led Cox email indie developer Epic Shadow.
"We were in talks with Lars Jörnow at King.com to license our Scamperghost game,” Matthew Cox, the game’s designer, blogged. “Before the deal was closed — and certainly before any contracts were signed — MaxGames.com made a better offer, so we thanked King for considering our game and politely ended our negotiations.”
Matt Porter of Epic Shadow, creator of the clone, told “Lars from King had us do a contract job for him when me and my old game-development partner were literally living in a basement by ourselves,” he said. “Lars paid us $3,000 to essentially clone Scamperghost and try to beat it to release.” Jörnow felt 'screwed out of a deal', he said.:
Porter didn't initially feel bad about the work as he had been led to believe by King that Stolen Goose had backed out of a done deal. Cox however says no such formal signed deal existed, but Porter feels neither group is innocent.
“I believe that Stolen Goose probably did something that wasn’t perfectly ethical, but I don’t think that is validation for what King had us do — which was clone the game,” continued Porter.
Epic Shadow realised half-way through development of their clone it was wrong to do. "That was why we specifically left our branding out of the game,” he said. Clearly in the wrong are King.com and the now defunct Epic Shadow for encouraging and accepting the production of a cloned game.
“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,” said Stolen Goose's Cox.
“King.com, however, showed no respect for other people’s intellectual property when they made a direct, blatant clone of Scamperghost. Now they’ve trademarked “Candy” and are using their massive legal power against other small competing developers. A bit of a double-standard, eh?”
The Banner Saga's Stoic meanwhile has "won't make a viking saga without the word Saga, and we don't appreciate anyone telling us we can't." A protest event called Candy Jam has started which encourages developers to submit games with titles using common words to make noise around nonsense trademarks.they
"King.com claims they're not attempting to prevent us from using The Banner Saga, and yet their legal opposition to our trademark filing remains. We're humbled by the outpouring of support and honored to have others stand with us for the right to their own Saga. We just want to make great games."