‘Snow Day’ at the Beijing Olympics

Feb 25

Fuwa Fight the Winter Clouds Title Screen
Fuwa Fight the Winter Clouds

This is one of the Flash games being featured on the Fun Page of The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, called ‘Fuwa Fight the Winter Clouds’. [UPDATE 3/10 : The game has been removed from the Olympic site.] The opening screen of this game looks strangely similar to the opening screen of my own game, Snow Day:

Snow Day Title Screen
Snow Day

Probably just a coincidence though, right? The instruction screen will surely show that this is a completely different game with a unique mechanic.

Fuwa Instructions Screen
Fuwa Instruction Screen

Snow Day Instructions Screen
Snow Day Instruction Screen

Hmm. They do use the same mechanic. The visual composition of this screen seems remarkably similar to Snow Day as well.

Let’s take a look at the game itself:

Fuwa Game Screen
Fuwa Game Screen

Snow Day Game Screen
Snow Day Game Screen

Wow. Just wow.

Flash game theft is nothing new. I’m actually quite used to having my games taken without my permission, and without receiving compensation. The difference here is that this is not some crappy no-name portal. This is The Olympics.

I’d also like to point out that this is not just a clone of my game. They didn’t see my game and set out to make a similar game. They actually stole my game. I’ll say it again:
The Olympics stole my game.
They downloaded the swf file from my site, decompiled it, swapped out the little guy for the Fuwa characters, took my name off of it and republished it as their own. I can tell this is what happened because they are still using some of my original art from Snow Day (the clouds and the ice cube are exactly the same). I also took the liberty of decompiling their game and actually found it still contains the sound files from Snow Day, even though they aren’t being used in the Olympic version. It even still has the splash sound effect from The Lake (I used the engine from The Lake to make Snow Day and must have forgot to delete this file).

Two of the other games on the Olympic site are obvious rip-offs of Ferry Halim’s Orisinal games. Compare Obstacle Race on the Olympic site with Ferry’s adorable Arctic Blue, and Leap and Leap, a clumsy copy of Winter Bells. I can’t really tell if these are clones or reskinned versions of Ferry’s files, but those stars in Leap and Leap look pretty damn similar to me.

I did some research and it seems that the web site was created by Sohu.com, the company that last year busted Google for plagiarizing from one if its products. At the time Sohu made three requests of Google: that they stop offering the software for download as quickly as possible, that they make an apology, and that they discuss compensation for the offense. I’m currently considering my legal options, but I think these three things sound like reasonable requests to make of Sohu.

The Beijing Olympic Committee has also not been lenient with copyright infringers. Back in October the director of the State Intellectual Property Office, Tian Lipu, pledged to prevent Olympic piracy. Indeed, the Olympic web site even has a page set up where you can report infringement of intellectual property rights. Evidently, they are slightly less concerned when The Olympics infringes on the rights of others.

I’m sending cease and desist letters to both Sohu and the BOCOG. More news to follow as the story unfolds.

In the meantime:
Click here to play the real Snow Day

* Thanks to Alex at Miniclip for bringing all of this to my attention.

UPDATE 3/10: The game has been removed from the Olympics site.
Also, read some nice coverage about the ordeal in the Sydney Morning Herald. Pretty much the same story as here, but with better writing…

UPDATE 3/14: Additional coverage of the story on Ars Technica, Joystiq.