Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Capcom Mobile's Blunder Blows Up In Their Face

Nah, hardly any resemblance... is there?
It's worth noting that gameplay, in and of itself, cannot be copyrighted. Ideas aren't copyrightable, only the particular expression of an idea. So it should be no surprise that many games are "paid homage to" in different ways... but usually more of an attempt is made than in this case to file of the serial numbers. And usually you don't see a big company like Capcom doing the copying.... but that's what Twisted Pixel is seeing with Capcom's iOS game MaXplosion, which resembles Twisted Pixel's Xbox Live game 'Splosion Man to an amazing degree.

So amazing that many fans have commented on it; it's pretty obvious. The really amazing thing here is that Twisted Pixel has made the correct, if emotionally unsatisfying, decision: They aren't suing. Legal action costs a lot, and in this case I'm sure their lawyers advised them that they didn't have good grounds for action. Yeah, it's clearly "inspired by" but nothing too actionable. This is a story, indeed; a developer smart enough to avoid legal problems, and pivot to using the issue to their PR benefit. Well played, Twisted Pixel.

Shame on Capcom, though. (Full disclosure: I worked for Capcom US many years ago.) While it's skating by legally, it's certainly not terribly ethical or in good taste, and Capcom should be ashamed of themselves. They have enough talent to do their own original work, and this should be an embarrassment to them. If I was running the studio I'd find out who was responsible and set them loose, because I'd want people who are more creative and more ethical creating games for my company.

Capcom Mobile is certainly making a name for themselves quickly. This dubious misstep follows on the heels of the The Smurf's Village fiasco, where we found that many parents discovered that their kids were playing the game and running up big credit card charges by buying smurfberries in the game. And Capcom Mobile's response was that, well, adult power players wanted a way to power up in the game quickly. Adult power players in the Smurf Village? Paging Chris Hansen...

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