Aquatica, a game for the iPhone, looks extremely similar to thatgamecompany's flOw, so similar, in fact, that flOw designer Jenova Chen is calling out its developers for using his work without crediting him.
After seeing a video of Aquatica, you might mistakenly think that Flower developer thatgamecompany's Flash and PSN title flOw has somehow made its way to the iPhone. That's because the games look startlingly alike - so much alike that flOw creator Jenova Chen believes it's built from flOw's source code, which he released to the public.
"I released flOw source for people to learn," Chen wrote on his Twitter. "I didn't expect to see it on iPhone without quoting the creator." He later elaborated on his claims, telling 1UP that "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."
Aquatica developer Ketera Software, however, disagrees. "Actually, all the source code is completely, 100% written from scratch," they wrote in YouTube comments. "Please check your facts before you make such baseless accusations."
Ketera continued its counter-argument by saying that many games within a certain "class" use similar ideas and are similar outside of cosmetic differences. This is certainly true for flOw, which found its gameplay emulated in Spore's opening stages. Chen's problem, however, doesn't seem to be with people using his ideas so much as not giving him any credit.
"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," he said. "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."
Whatever the case may be here, I doubt a tiny studio like thatgamecompany has the time or resources to pursue legal action, and I doubt they want to. So maybe someone should just email someone else, make nice and we can all get back to ripping each other off. After all, as Roger Meyers Jr. once said: "You take away our right to steal ideas, where are they going to come from?"
UPDATE: Keteria Software has issued a public and personal apology to Chen.
"Aquatica was an iPhone remake/fan version of the famous flOw game originally created by Jenova Chen of the ThatGameCompany fame," the studio wrote. "We deeply apologize for not properly crediting Jenova initially, and have already written him with a personal apology, as well. Our mistakes were caused by naivety, not malice."
The studio also removed the game from the App Store. "We will also make sure nothing like this ever happens in the future," they said.