Runic Games claims that nearly identical character models and sound files constitutes more than just “inspiration.”
According to Torchlight developer Runic Games, their game assets have been stolen wholesale and used in the new mobile MMO Armed Heroes Online.
The game, made by Beijing developer EGLS and released on the Canada app store early July, differs in gameplay from Torchlight – but it’s the actual art and sounds in the game that prompted Runic Games’ Co-founder Travis Baldree to call out the company on Twitter last weekend. He took several snapshots from the new game and made a paste-up sheet showing the similarities between the two games, claiming that the games’ similarities go beyond stylistic choice. You can see that picture to the right. In the tweet, Baldree says, “This took only a few minutes of random snapshots from Armed Heroes video – notice anything? This is a TINY sample. pic.twitter.com/IH80z9Ko“.
In response, EGLS is bobbing and weaving. Serena Zhang of EGLS completely denies Baldree’s accusations, claiming that similarities come from the team members taking “inspirations from other games and movies”. Zhang also compared the protagonists of the two games, pointing out that the models do not match exactly. For example, the Wizard protagonist in Armed Heroes Online is female, while Torchlight‘s Alchemist is male. However, the similarities are so great that in some cases, it looks like they took the models and did a slight repaint of them and stuck them in.
Baldree responded by pointing out that the sound files packaged with Armed Heroes Online share filenames – including typos and unique monster names – with Torchlight. “I have no problem with inspiration,”, he said. “We are obviously inspired by Diablo, and make no bones about it. But we don’t include any Diablo artwork or sounds in our game.” He then posted two more comparison shots using the models Zhang used in the original post, again showing eerie similarities with Torchlight. It’s pretty much like what the image you see on our page demonstrates, and it looks pretty cut and dried.
It’s been asked why Runic Games hasn’t gone to the courts yet – the answer is, of course, that legal fees alone can kill a company. At this level it costs $15 thousand just to call your attorney and say “batter up!” Then there’s the fact that the alleged thieves in this case are in China, where Runic Games’ rights aren’t necessarily recognized. Instead, Runic is trying to get Apple to intervene directly by getting them to remove Armed Heroes Online from the App Store.
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