Spry Fox, the game studio behind the Facebook game Triple Town, has filed suit against 6Waves LOLAPPS for their iOS game Yeti Town, describing it as a "blatant copy" of Triple Town.
In a statement posted to Spry Fox CEO David Edery's blog titled "Standing up for Ourselves," Edery and designer Daniel Cook list a number of grievances against 6Waves. Their full legal complaint can be downloaded, as well.
From Edery and Cook's post:
Yeti Town, as launched by 6waves, was a nearly perfect copy of Triple Town. We're not just talking about the game's basic mechanics here. We're talking about tons of little details, from the language in the tutorial, to many of our UI 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!)
Game-cloning has been discussed quite a bit lately, notably when Nimblebit claimed that Zynga stole their Tiny Tower idea to make their own Dream Heights. Others, meanwhile, made the argument that idea-copying is arguably just a part of game development.
One thing that makes this story a bit different is that 6Waves had private access to Triple Town while the game was still in development. From later in Spry Fox's blog post:
Second: what most people don't know is that 6waves was in confidential (under NDA) negotiations with us to publish Triple Town at the exact same time that they were actively copying Triple Town. 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.
A screenshot of that Facebook message, sent to Spry Fox's David Edery from 6Waves' Executive Director of Business Development Dan Laughlin, is included in Spry Fox's legal complaint. From that message:
I have some news, of which i'm not excited to share with you. I need to back out of any further discussions on Triple Town. We've just published a game on iOS that you're not going to like given its similar match-3 style. Wish this wasn't happening, but it is, and there wasn't anything I could do about it, despite my attempts.
"It's bad enough to rip off another company," write Edery and Cook. "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."
In an email to Kotaku, a representative from 6waves Lolapps made the following statement:
"6waves 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."
Standing Up For Ourselves [Spry Fox]