It's bad enough to steal someone else's work wholesale, but it is beyond the pale to defend such action by saying "we couldn't reach the original developers to present it with a deal." In April of this year Taiwanese developer Rocky Hong released the puzzle game Magnetized on GameStop's Kongregate. The game proved to be very popular with the Kongregate community who downloaded it an impressive 280,000 times.
Then something horrible happened: Germany based Connect Media UG decided to copy the game and sell it on a bunch of platforms such as Xbox Live Indie Games, Android and Windows 8 devices. And when we say copy the game, we mean almost an identical version of the game, but without crediting the original developer of the game - and without his permission.
But the most galling part of the story? An unidentified representative from Connect Media UG claims that it thought it was behaving responsibly. That is exactly what they say in a statement to CVG:
"We tried to contact Rocky some time ago about bringing the game to XBLIG and Android.
Our offer: We'll take care of the full development work of porting it and publishing it to several stores giving him 80 per cent of the revenues.
The game would have sold for $1. After the stores taking 30 per cent this would be $0.70 total and $0.56 for him and $0.14 for us.
We were so sure that he would be happy that someone will port his game to other platforms and that he'll receive a fair share of the revenues, so we started development.
We are not a big studio, just two people trying to get by. Development took about two weeks. After not receiving a response, we thought that he might have thought that we were just kidding, so we put it on Android and XBLIG and told him to have a look at it.
Again, we were sure that he'll accept the offer and everyone would benefit from having this game on multiple platforms. But again we didn't receive a response. We were about to remove the game from all stores and forget about this when we received a message from Rocky.
Unlike what we thought he wasn't happy about this. He told us to remove the game from all stores. So we removed the game from all stores immediately. On Android it was gone after two hours. On XBLIG after eight hours. The game has been sold about 80 times."
The studio rep. went on to say that it will "try to give all revenues to Rocky" and that "if he doesn't accept we will donate it to a charitable institution from Taiwan."
"We are very sorry about this," the rep. continued. "It was our fault to assume that he will be happy about us porting his game to other platforms and it was wrong to just throw it on XBLIG and Android without receiving a response. We feel very bad about this."
While this is all well and good, there's a number of problems with this whole scenario of making Rocky Hong whole by giving him the proceeds from the game. For starters, no one knows how much money has been generated by various ports of the game, and given the way this studio handled getting permission in the first place, it would be hard for anyone to trust what they say on this matter. As CVG points out, Connect Media UG's press kit for the ports of the game doesn't even mention the original developer. While we can't say what is in the hearts of those that work at Connect Media UG, it seems like this is simply a case of remorse caused by getting caught stealing.
We will have more on this story as it develops.