Whilst browsing my Facebook feed the other day I came across a rather odd titbit of video game news. It appears that Stoic, a developer comprised of former BioWare employees, is in a bit of a bind regarding the release of their debut game The Banner Saga. From what I understand King.com, the company behind the addictive Candy Crush Saga, has taken legal action against Stoic as they claim ownership of the word Saga.
First of all I have to say how can US trademark law allow companies to claim copyright over a commonly used word? If the article I read is accurate, King.com have also taken action against other indie developers who use the word “candy” in their games. It seems outrageous to me and King’s argument that use of the word may cause consumer confusion is utter poppycock. Banner Saga is a strategy game loosely based on Norse mythology whilst Candy Crush is a colourful puzzler designed to milk gullible players out of money. They are nothing alike.
I’m no law expert (despite my Judge moniker) but if there was any justice in the world such claims would get thrown out immediately. Common sense should prevail and anyone wasting the court’s time with such nonsense should be fined. What’s sad is that big business can use such measures to bully more creative indie developers. I very much doubt a sole programmer, who is working on a game, has either the resources or guts to contest legal threats. They’ll inevitably capitulate and rebrand their product to avoid the stress of it all.
So where do you guys stand on this issue? Do you think King.com is justified in protecting their intellectual property or has the whole thing been blown out of all proportion? Speaking of The Banner Saga, is it any good? I bought the game recently, but like many other Steam impulse buys I have not got round to playing it yet. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below.