I’m planning to develope games based on familiar to all of us games like
Tetris, Snake, Mario.
The whole idea is to make profit on it so normally I should buy license
right? However my idea is not exactlly the same as the original ones.
There are a lot of simmilar games to written above in internet, they
have diffrent names, designes but basiclly the idea is the same: for
instance with snake, there is always sth moving which user controls and
usually it eats sth:)
So my question is: are these replica games, while being named
diffrentlly then the original, legal to sell? Or do I have to buy
licenses for it? If so, maybe you know whre can I buy it from? For
instance tetris is working quite well and you can find all essential
information on the website. But SNAKE??? I’ve been googling for hours
and I cant find where to read the licnese terms and where can I buy the
rights to use they idea?
Thanks a lot,
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IANAL, if the idea is the same, but the name is different, this is not
usually enough to keep you out of trouble. Even if the look-and-feel is
The complicating factor is the fact that copyright and IP protections
vary greatly country by country.
It is safer to try to get a license. However, for old titles, this may
be difficult as there is no way to find representation unless it is too
late. Companies have long since disappeared, been bought, etc. But,
copyright can still be asserted by the originator or by the recipient of
the assets of a company sale. And, look-and-feel gets grey pretty quick.
All in all, knocking off an old title with a few look-feel and game rule
changes should be pretty safe, but licensing is the only way to be sure
to not paint a target on your back should you actually start generating
noticeable revenue. Look at Hasbro vs Scrabbulous for example.
PS: According to the book “High Score!”, Sega published the original
Snake, which means they likely control the rights to it, if they still
do. So many variants exist that they likely have lost the right to
assert copyright protection.
When it comes to games, just make sure you don’t take content from
another game such as artwork, names, things like that. It’s too hard to
prove look and feel and no one is going to bother with it with a game
because they come and go too quickly, but in general, try to make your
game look different and feel different so people will be more inclined
to play it. Those old games like tetris and snakes have gotten pretty
old and worn out, although I don’t mind playing them once in a while
yet. BTW, one of the best ways to learn game programming is to copy some
old games like that. That’s why there are so many around.
Thanks a lot for your replies:)