In early 2014 Stoic, the developers of The Banner Saga, got caught up in a legal dispute with King, the developers of Candy Crush, or, to give it its full name, Candy Crush Saga, over the word ‘saga’.
King tried to block Stoic from trademarking The Banner Saga. To fight King would take a hefty amount of legal counsel and the money to buy that counsel, so Stoic looked to Kickstarter.
King claimed that Stoic’s game presented a “likelihood of confusion in the marketplace” and might cause “mistake and deception” among “purchasers and potential purchasers”. After all, King’s other games all had ‘saga’ in the name – Bubble Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Mahjong Saga, Puzzle Saga and Pyramid Saga. Stoic had to choose between changing their game’s name or fighting King.
Responding to a question from a developer on Reddit, Arnie Jorgensen wrote that “we felt that we had a strong enough presence on Kickstarter that if worse came to worse we could run a campaign to raise the funds to fight it and would probably get the money rather quickly.”
They were in a good position, they already had an engaged fanbase who had kickstarted The Banner Saga and the story got a lot of coverage. “Our story blew up in the media and thankfully the whole gaming community came to our aid arguing on behalf of us on the web. If you’re a small company with little following and you don’t get the large media companies and gaming community behind you it may not wind up as well.”
Arnie went on to suggest that “sometimes getting out of the way of the tank is the most reasonable option.” However, “If the world is watching then standing your ground will not only help you but also the fields of other people behind you hoping to carve out their own niche.”
In Stoic’s case, Arnie thinks that “all the media probably helped to make the game more well known!”
We know that Stoic and King managed to come to an agreement over the term, allowing The Banner Saga to go ahead under its original name, but the exact terms are under wraps. All the team would say was that they “got everything we wanted.”
Would you have backed a bid to raise legal fees?