When flOw burst onto the PS3 (and PSP) scene, a lot of people appreciated its minimalist and serene design. Creator Jenova Chen eventually released the game's source code for people to learn from, but now it seems as though someone didn't just learn from it but actually just copied it instead.
That's what Chen thought when he first saw Ketara Software's iPhone game Aquatica. On his Twitter page, Chen accused the Aquatica developer of plagiarizing flOw:
I released flOw source for people to learn. I didn't expect to see it on iphone without quoting the creator
I just gave out source for people who wants to learn Flash programming. However, according to them, they wrote it from scratch.
Chen also gave 1Up the following statement:
The image and animation in Aquatica is almost identical to the original web game I created. I felt maybe they are one of the many who asked me for the flOw source code. But according to the comments the creator of the Aquatica made on the youtube, they didn't use my source code.
I thought the creation of Aquatica is a very flattering thing because they mimic the game I created in the university and somewhat realized my dream for a flOw game on the iPhone. It could be a very sweet thing if they did this as a fan ware and put it out for free. But the fact they didn't mention flOw at all and call it a 'new, unique game completely in a class of its own' is disappointing.
Ketara, meanwhile, had this to say in the comments section of their YouTube trailer for Aquatica amidst more accusations from commenters:
Actually, all the source code is completely, 100 written from scratch. Please check your facts before you make such baseless accusations.
Also, what's wrong with adapting a general idea of one game to the iPhone? No one had done this before, and we wanted to play it with tilt controls. In general, most games within each class are practically the same, just different graphics.
It's noteworthy that Ketara's website for Aquatica now says that the game is "an iPhone from-the-ground-up re-make of the famous flOw game created by Jenova Chen of the ThatGameCompany fame."
Ketara has also since posted the following comment on the Aquatica YouTube trailer:
We deeply apologize for this. We simply (naively) did not think it necessary, since we did indeed write absolutely ALL the code ourselves, and were not even aware flOw's source was released. We can easily prove it by releasing any part of the code anyone requests.
We have corrected this by posting proper credits everyone (they will show up in iTunes in several hours, as all changes do).
We will also be contacting Jenova Chen to apologize.
Aquatica is currently available for free on the App Store, but that's only for a limited time promo. Here are videos of both games so you can judge for yourself if this is indeed a clear-cut case of plagiarism or not.
- thatgamecompany talks about flOw and its new "emotional" game
- Korean company sued for plagiarizing FF7: Advent Children