Copying. Where do you draw the line?

Discussion in 'Feedback Requests' started by Junkyard Sam, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. Junkyard Sam

    Junkyard Sam
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    We were in talks to license our Flash game Scamper Ghost with King.com and they were very professional and cool to us until we went with another sponsor's better offer (MaxGames.com)

    At that point King made a particularly blatant clone of our game and are now distributing it widely.

    I suppose this sort of thing happens constantly in our line of work. I guess I have some sort of weird morality and integrity that causes me to feel this is wrong... I would never do something like this to someone else. Am I just a bad businessman?

    How do you feel about this? I know there's nothing I can do... But should I be flattered? Offended?

    SCAMPERGHOST (made first)
    http://www.stolengoose.com/index_scamperghost.shtml

    PAC-AVOID (made second)
    http://www.king.com/games/sponsored-games/pac-avoid/?language=en_US

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. JGOware

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    Please post this exact thread on FGL as well. ;)
     
  3. princec

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    IANAL, but I think that's a clear violation of copyright there. The screens are almost identical in design. It's like changing the names of characters in a story - it doesn't clear you of plagiarism. Take 'em to court.

    <edit> Plenty of precedent around too. Just ask Hasbro.

    Cas :)
     
  4. Jack Norton

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    LOL never seen such a blatant copy before. I agree with caspian. This is really TOO much. King.com has really built a good reputation now :rolleyes:
     
  5. Bad Sector

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    I doubt this is protected by copyright - the screens are similar but not identical. A lot of games are like this anyway.

    Note i'm not saying that what King did doesn't suck, but unless some lawyer is 100% sure that its illegal, i'm almost sure it isn't.

    As JGOware said, post this to FGL so other people will know. Although from what i've seen in the FGL chat, i have a feeling that this isn't very uncommon among developers or between developers and sponsors :p

    EDIT: i would also like to add that you don't mention how you moved from King to MaxGames. While this doesn't make King's move right, i would justify them a bit if you decided overnight to change portals, never notifier King or you took advantage of King's feedback (something that flash sponsors usually provide) to polish your game and then switched to MaxGames. Actually the last one would be the worst in my opinion.
     
  6. matibee

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    It must really hurt but I don't know what you can do about it. :mad:

    Personally, King should be more concerned about Namco coming knocking. The word "Pac" coupled with the whole look of it is a blatant copyright violation IMO. I think it would be justice enough if Namco made them take it down.
     
  7. electronicStar

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    I was going to post some arguments to defend cloning, and probably also going to ask wether the way you ended the negotiation had not been angering King. But then I realized how the game screens were copycats of each other and I have to concede this is rather lame from the part of king.
    Unfortunately I don't think you could do anything, except maybe put the shame on King at FGL.
    As suggested you should post this exact thread at FGL:p

     
  8. Desktop Gaming

    Desktop Gaming
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    As if running regular ads on warez sites wasn't bad enough.

    Anyway.... yep its very dodgy, is that. The ice beneath their feet is made thinner by the fact that they make blatant references to Pacman in the blurb.

    For what its worth, their version has crap graphics and irritating music.
     
  9. distractionware

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    Bloody hell.

    Yes, please post this over on FlashGameLicence too - this is something developers over there will want to know about. There's a thread for sponsor reviews.

    This is really sad - King are one of the bigger flash sponsors out there. :(
     
  10. richtaur

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    To me, this kind of behavior is atrocious. Borrowing elements from other games is common and I actually fully support it: game designers should learn and improve from each other to help our industry evolve.

    But clones are despicable, and loser companies like Zynga or these guys deserve our disrespect. Are you sure there's nothing you can do? See the copyright page: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl108.html

    Someone else made the point that their using "Pac" might be interesting to Namco. If they're willing to strike below the belt like this, I'd have no qualms telling Namco about it ...
     
  11. PoV

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    Flash clones and iClones. Such fun.
     
  12. RiVEN

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    King? King of Thieves more like. Shame your game isn't called Aladdin! That would've been funny at least. Could they be more blatant? It's a damn shame companies with plenty money can't at least come up with their own games..
     
  13. jmcginley

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    First off, I think this is appalling. Anyone engaged in blatant cloning should be stopped, or at the very least held in contempt. However, this situation reminds me of the recent StoneLoops/Luxor blatant clone debate I was involved in. Most people sided with Stone Loops (which looks like a blatant Luxor clone) including Junkyard Sam:

    Most of the arguments in that thread support what King.com did.
    - "Scamperghost" itself is a clone of some game
    - "Pac-Avoid" didn't steal any assets/code, it looks different enough
    - "Pac-Avoid" might have improved the "Scamperghost" genre

    How does one draw the line at "Pac-Avoid", but not at "Stone Loops"?
     
    #13 jmcginley, Feb 12, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2010
  14. MFS

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    You have exposed the hypocrisy in me, admittedly. I argued for the Stone Loops guys and feel inclined to take up Junkyard Sam's side.

    I think the deciding factor for me here, is that I assume King was under a non-disclosure with Junkyard Sam and almost all of these contain stipulations about not using any of the information presented for their own gains. In this case, it seems like King clearly used confidential information (the whole game) to further their own ends once a deal could not be attained.

    So yeah, I'm a hypocrite. :( But had King not had confidential access to the game, and instead made this clone once Junkyard Sam had released it to the wild, I would have retained the same position I had in the Stone Loops case.

    Edit: By the way Junkyard Sam, yours is the superior product of the two after playing them both for a bit. And as always, I hope the superior product is more successful.
     
    #14 MFS, Feb 12, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2010
  15. PoV

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    The Stone Loops situation was confusing to me. The original game, from what I could tell actually had slightly different mechanics than Luxor (Swapping). However, the iPhone version played just like Luxor (Matching).

    /me shrugs

    All I can say is being cloned sucks. Really sucks. Especially when it's a clone that beats you to market.
     
  16. aiursrage2k

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    Bummer but your game seems more appealing , there color scheme looks like a grey blob whereas yours has some "pop to it".

    What do you think about copying your own game. For example giving an update and than changing the entire art/music.
     
    #16 aiursrage2k, Feb 13, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2010
  17. CasualInsider

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    Expect a huge surge of cloning soon as more tools come out making Flash dev even easier than it already is.
     
  18. Junkyard Sam

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    Thanks for the thoughts on this. Again, I know there's nothing to do about it.

    But some additional insight:

    Scamper Ghost was a clone of the flash game Particles. Directly. Scamper Ghost was 100% inspired by Particles (by RagDollSoft!)
    http://www.ragdollsoft.com/particles/

    But notice how we really evolved the game quite a bit in our own direction. King's version didn't evolve enough to be worthy of respect, not that they care.


    And regarding the negotiations - we were at the point of tentative acceptance with King, pending any problems we had with their API. Our programmer had some kind of problems with the API relating to our game being entirely AS3 and that we needed Flash for something - and he took great issue with their "SUBMIT" button tricking people into going to King's site... Our programmer preferred Max's score solution which used Mochi's leaderboard which was fully integrated into our game... Also, Max's offer was more than twice what King's was (though it was for exclusive rather than primary.)

    As far as who is right and wrong morally here - consider that King as a company doesn't change a bit whether or not they have our game... But the price difference between King and Max meant us working for less than minimum wage or for an amount that we could actually feed our hungry kids a little.

    Fact is - when it comes to developers vs. portals - the portals are winning while we developers starve and slave for our craft. So when there's a moral grey area, I think we should err on the side of the little guy.

    That being said - I don't hate King for this. I see it as a cold calculated business move - they wanted the game, couldn't get it - so they copied it. It's cutthroat - it's how they operate. I would still do business with them in the future. (They're one of the bigger sponsors, after all.) Not sure if they'd do business with us though. Oh well.

    All business is a bit snakelike, I guess... But this sort of blatant cloning is something I would never do.
     
  19. Jack Norton

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    Wow! those words are a real "flashback" - getting back to the dark ages of retail publishers that own your very soul...:eek:
     
  20. Grey Alien

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    There's cloning mechanics (which lots of people do and it seems to be more or less accepted now) and there's cloning look/layout, which is really sucky imho - it shows zero imagination. And that King game is a major look/layout clone; something that has happened to Princec I believe, and me with Holiday Bonus (there's an iPhone clone that's just that little bit too similar, see below), and even the Fairway Solitaire game screen. Lots of people have made match-3s but at least most of us tried to make them look different! Stoneloops looks different from Luxor, for example, even if the mechanic is similar so I'm on the side of Stoneloops.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #20 Grey Alien, Feb 13, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010

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