The issue of copycat games is rearing its head in mobile games, just as it had with social games on Facebook.
Spry Fox, a small game developer in Seattle, announced today in a blog post that it has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against 6waves Lolapps, a major social and mobile game publisher, for copying Spry Fox’s hit game Triple Town (pictured top left).
The copycat issue is turning into a big one, as it’s quite easy to copy mobile games and sometimes the copycats become even more popular than the original. In some categories such as farm games, you can find dozens of similar titles. Nimblebit, the developers of Tiny Tower, recently poked Zynga in the eye with an infographic, alleging that Zynga’s upcoming Dream Heights game copied Tiny Tower. But in this case, Spry Fox alleges extensive copying took place, beyond the graphics of the game.
While Triple Town is a Facebook title, David Edery, co-founder of Spry Fox, and Daniel Cook, co-founder, alleged that 6waves Lolapps’ Yeti Town (pictured top right) is a “blatant copy of Triple Town.”
In a statement, 6waves Lolapps said, “Lolapps is disappointed that David Edery has chosen to file a lawsuit, and believes his claims are factually inaccurate. We respect others IP and did nothing to violate any contracts our team had in place. The copyright infringement claims are unjustified.
“This was a difficult decision for (co-founder) Danc and I,” Edery said. “We are not enthusiastic about the prospect of spending our time in court as opposed to making games. And in general, we believe that only in the most extreme circumstances should a video game developer resort to legal action in order to defend their creative works — the last thing our industry needs is frivolous lawsuits. Unfortunately, it is our opinion that 6waves has behaved in a reprehensible and illegal manner, and we can not, in good conscience, ignore it.”
Edery said that Yeti Town (pictured at bottom) was a “nearly perfect copy of Triple Town.”
“We’re not just talking about the game’s basic mechanics here,” Edery wrote. “We’re talking about tons of little details, from the language in the tutorial, to many of our (user interface) elements, to the quantities and prices of every single item in the store (how exactly did 6waves “independently” decide to price 200 turns for 950 coins, or 4 wildcards for 1500 coins each? That’s quite a coincidence!) But don’t take our word for it.”
Edery cited articles in the press that noted the similarities:
Gamezebo: “Unfortunately for Yeti Town, the only substantial difference between it and Facebook’s Triple Town is the platform it’s on. Otherwise it’s the exact same game, only this time with snow.”
InsideSocialGames: “Yeti Town is a matching game nearly identical to Spry Fox’s Triple Town”
Games.com: “Replace “saplings” with “bushes”, “tents” with “houses” and “yetis” with “bears”. What do you get? Something that would look a lot like independent developer Spry Fox’s Triple Town”
Edery further alleged that 6waves had signed a confidential non-disclosure agreement with Spry Fox to publish Triple Town “at the exact same time that they were actively copying Triple Town. “
Edery said, “We gave 6waves private access to Triple Town when it was still in closed beta, months before the public was exposed to the game. We believed those negotiations were ongoing, and we continued to give private information to 6waves, until 6waves’ Executive Director of Business Development sent us a message via Facebook on the day Yeti Town was published in which he suddenly broke off negotiations and apologized for the nasty situation. His message can be found in its entirety in the body of our legal complaint.”
Edery wrote, “It’s bad enough to rip off another company. To do so while you are pumping them for private information (first, our game design ideas, and later, after the game was launched on Facebook, our private revenue and retention numbers) is profoundly unethical by any measure.”