It’s almost impossible to avoid the hugely popular mobile game “Candy Crush Saga.” Between Facebook requests for help, friends talking it up and articles like this one that keep mentioning it, “Candy Crush Saga” is downright ubiquitous, and developer King is fighting to keep it that way – by suing anyone using a similar name.
Last month, King filed to stop Stoic Studio from obtaining a trademark on their Viking-themed, turn-based RPG “The Banner Saga,” despite the fact that the games share nothing besides the word “saga.” Now, King has obtained a copyright on the word “Candy” in Europe and has made motions to copyright the same word in America. Naturally, some game developers aren’t too happy about being denied the word “candy” in their game titles.
Enter: The Candy Jam. Itch.io, a site dedicated to hosting independently produced games for free, has called on developers and hobbyists everywhere to create their own small video games, all with the word “candy” in the title, as a protest against King.
“Why?” the Candy Jam site asks. "Because trademarking common words is ridiculous, because ethics matter and because it gives us an occasion to make another game jam." It doesn’t hurt that many developers believe King simply ripped off existing games like “Bejewled” for their own games, either.
In the indie gaming community, “game jams” are occasions for creators and developers to come together and create their own small video games within a certain time frame, in Candy Jam’s case, two weeks. When the deadline expired on Monday, itch.io had received more than 350 games, and more continue to pour in. Titles range from the straightforward (Candy Chasm Saga) to the absurd (u!u!u!candy!candy!boom!), but all set King and “Candy Crush Saga” in their sights.
Co-host Cariboo, creator of Berserkrgangr and Candy Jam’s Candy Coin Maker 2000 From Hell, says the jam’s hosts have been thrilled by the support Candy Jam has received.
“The viral aspect of it was really interesting,” Cariboo wrote on a promotional Reddit thread. “We started it, but I'm sure most game developers got the same idea crossing their mind at some point… so there was some kind of inherent buzz among game developers.”
Participants in the Candy Jam say they know their games might not stop King from continuing to profit off its “Candy Crush” brand, but most are more concerned about raising awareness of their business practices.
“[It’s] doubtful that King will feel anything,” Ian Stocker, creator of Escape Goat and the Candy Jam variant Candy Escape Goat Saga, admitted on Reddit. “But it is useful to make others aware of what happens on the business side of the industry. I don't necessarily change everything I do when I hear something like this, but it does inform my purchases or downloads or opinions. You have to make choices about what you buy, and to even make a few other people aware of what bothers us, I think that's important.”
If nothing else, there are about 350 games in the world now that didn’t exist before. That has to count for something.