The Austin Chronicle

Taking Candy From a Saga

By James Renovitch, January 31, 2014, Screens

Candy Crush Saga fever has swept the nation. For months, it has dominated dinner conversation, replaced reading as the popular pre-bedtime activity, and made obscene profits from people who just can't stand to lose. Until a few weeks ago, many praised Candy Crush as a model for free-to-play games. The mechanics of the game prey on human nature's instincts, but it never pretended to be something it wasn't. It was a simple, addictive game. So, what happened a few weeks ago? Well, perhaps in a blur of expendable income, the company behind Candy Crush, King Ltd., decided to trademark the words "candy" and "saga" in an attempt to deter clones of their game.

While trademarking such common terms seems silly, it makes good business sense for a money-making behemoth like King. The trademark could then be used like a scalpel to excise parties trying to ride the Candy Crush coattails and rob them of profits (Candy Blitz Saga Crush would be high on the list). Instead, King is casting its litigious net far and wide: Wide enough to include The Banner Saga and issue Stoic a Notice of Opposition to their use of the offending word. Nothing like a huge company picking on a burgeoning indie studio to rightfully create an uproar. King publicly backed down, releasing a statement that they weren't trying to stop Stoic from using the name but were merely covering their bases in case other companies pointed to The Banner Saga and said "well, you're not suing them, so you have no right to sue us." Cart before the horse mentality aside, the reality of the situation according to the team at Stoic is that they have heard nothing official from King saying they should disregard the original notice.

The best-case scenario is this all blows over and King leaves with some bad PR. At its ugliest, Stoic could be drowned in court fees that equal a few hours' worth of profits for King. Stoic, in a statement to press outlets, said, "We won't make a viking saga without the word Saga, and we don't appreciate anyone telling us we can't."

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