You may have seen a link to an open letter that’s been circulating on Facebook lately. The letter is from a game developer who made a game called Candy Swipe as tribute to his mother, who died from cancer at the age of 62. The letter pretty much outright accuses Candy Crush Saga’s developer, King Digital Entertainment, of stealing the ideas from Candy Swipe and then engaging in predatory practices to all but steal the right to use the words “candy” and “saga” on various app-stores. This letter has become big enough that today Snopes chimed in, trying to clear up some of the noise.
Even before Snopes did that, I’d been considering a blog article about this. So here it is. I have a few thoughts on this issue.
First, the resemblance between Candy Crush Saga and Candy Swipe is minimal. I’ve downloaded and played both games, and Swipe, while not at all a bad game, is clearly the work of an amateur. It’s a decently entertaining game, and if the programmer’s mother did indeed love such games, I am sure she would have enjoyed it. But aside from a superficial set of similarities (the candy motif, the word “sweet”, and the puzzle format), the game really has very little similarity to Candy Crush Saga, which is more polished, more enjoyable, and, frankly, a better game.
Second, King is indeed overreaching and acting like a bunch of dicks when it comes to trademarks. They need to back the hell off their claims to exclusive use of the words “candy” and “saga”. Sure, they quite possibly have every legal right to do so, but it makes them appear to be quite an unpleasant and greedy company, and in a marketplace where perception is reality, that isn’t something that a company needs.
Third, both of these games are, as Snopes points out, based off earlier works, from TETRIS on down to things like Bejeweled. Neither game is especially original, but that’s ok, because they’re both pretty decent.
My heart goes out to the guy who created Candy Swipe, and he does have a pretty good emotional story. But Candy Crush Saga really is a very different game, and he should probably stop blaming King for the fact that sales of his app are down.
Now let’s all go back to our games, shall we?