Mobile game studios Spry Fox and 6Waves settled their legal battle over Yeti Town last week. This settlement is the result of a months-long lawsuit against 6Waves for allegedly cloning Spry Fox’s game Triple Town.
Spry Fox, the developer of the Kindle app called Triple Town, explains why it sued 6Waves.
Spry Fox makes video games. Among them was a game it dubbed “Triple Town,” which was originally available for play on Amazon’s Kindle device. Because Triple Town enjoyed some success on the Kindle, Spry Fox hoped to develop versions for other platforms, including the Facebook and Google+ social networks. Spry Fox approached Defendant 6Waves, LLC, for assistance. Ultimately, Spry Fox decided to develop the Facebook version of Triple Town on its own, but continued discussions with 6Waves about developing a version of Triple Town for iOS, the operating system for Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. In July 2011, 6Waves and Spry Fox entered into a nondisclosure agreement granting 6Waves privileged access to Triple Town.
In December 2011, 6Waves delivered Spry Fox two pieces of bad news: it would no longer develop an iOS version of Triple Town; and it would release “Yeti Town,” its own iOS game. According to Spry Fox, Yeti Town is a knockoff of Triple Town. Spry Fox is not alone in its view. The complaint reveals that several video game bloggers compared the two games and reached the same conclusion. Indeed, the 6Waves executive who wrote to Spry Fox to announce the publication of Yeti Town proclaimed that Spry Fox was “not going to like [it] given its similar match-3 style.”
In response to this claim, 6Waves attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed, but the court denied this motion, and 6Waves opted to settle out of court instead of proceed with the lawsuit.
Responding to GamesIndustry International, Spry Fox CEO David Edery confirmed that 6Waves has transferred the IP rights to Yeti Town to Spry Fox.
Edery spoke positively with about this outcome in his interview with GamesIndustry International.
We have amicably settled our lawsuit with 6waves. We are very happy with the outcome and glad to be finished with this matter. The full terms of the settlement are confidential, but I can disclose that as a consequence of the settlement, ownership of the Yeti Town IP has been transferred to Spry Fox. We look forward to putting 100% of our time and energy into our games, like the upcoming Leap Day, Steambirds 2 and Panda Poet mobile.
GamingBus sent requests for comment to both parties, but neither studio responded by the time of publication.
Analysis: You know how sometimes when somebody is caught redhanded doing something wrong, they just look you straight in the eye and admit it instead of coming up with some silly excuse? That’s what 6Waves did in this case. 6Waves was almost painfully blatant with how it stole Triple Town, and it knew that it would lose any lawsuit Spry Fox brought. So after it became clear that the court wouldn’t dismiss the lawsuit, 6Waves basically wrung their hands and went, “All right, all right, you caught us. Here’s the IP.”
The whole scenario might seem almost farfetched with how blatant and obvious it was, but you have to realize that this is the fast-paced, cutthroat, make-quick-money business of mobile gaming. There are many, many mobile games studios out there that would clone a successful IP in a heartbeat if they thought they could get away with it, and 6Waves is one of them. It’s a shame, but that’s just how the industry works in the boom-or-bust market of mobile games.
UPDATE (10/19/2012): David Edery has responded to Gaming Bus with the following comment:
We’re very happy with the settlement. We haven’t actually decided yet how we’ll make use of the Yeti Town IP; we were thinking it might be a neat idea to solicit suggestions from fans of Triple Town. Anyway, don’t know yet, but as soon as we decide, we’ll make sure to tell everyone!