Plagiarised versions of Magnetized made it onto XBLIG, Google Play

UPDATE: Publisher releases apology, will return all revenues.

UPDATE: Eurogamer has received a statement from Connect Media UG where the publisher apologises for releasing Magnetized on Xbox Live Indie Games and Android without permission.

The two-man publisher goes on to admit that it went through with the publishing process only to prove to developer Rocky Hong it could. All revenues earned will now be returned to Hong or donated to charity.

"There were many misunderstandings and even more false decisions made by us. We tried to contact Rocky some time ago about bringing the game to XBLIG and Android. We were so sure that he would be happy that someone will port his game to other platforms and that he'll receive a fair share of the revenues, so we started development.

"After not receiving a response we thought he might have decided we were just kidding, so we put it on Android and XBLIG and told him to have a look at it. Again, we were sure that he'll accept the offer and everyone would benefit from having this game on multiple platforms. But again we didn't received a response. We were about to remove the game from all stores and forget about this when we received a message from Rocky. Unlike what we thought he wasn't happy about this. He told us to remove the game from all stores. So we removed the game from all stores immediately.

"On Android it was gone after two hours. On XBLIG after eight hours. The game has been sold about 80 times. As soon as we receive the money we will try to give all revenues to Rocky. If he doesn't accept we will donate it to a charitable institution from Taiwan. We are very sorry about this. It was our fault to assume that he will be happy about us porting his game to other platforms and it was wrong to just throw it on XBLIG and Android without receiving a response.

"We feel very bad about this. My co-worker is sick and at home for two days now and we are just about to throw everything away. I still hope that Rocky will forgive us and that things will get better but all the bad words and defamation I read about us every day hurts. I know that we can't ask for sympathy but we are still only human. We have made a mistake we regret very much and hope that things will get better someday."

ORIGINAL STORY: On 8th April Taiwanese indie developer Rocky Hong unleashed his addictive physics-based arcade puzzler Magnetized onto Kongregate. Earlier this month, the same game appeared on XBLIG. Hong only discovered this upon browsing the marketplace. He never gave anyone permission to port it.

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Magnetized.

It wasn't just XBLIG, either, as Android and Windows 8/RT versions were found as well.

Hong took to the comments on an article at IndieGames.com to explain that he didn't develop these ports and the game was supposed to be free, unlike the $1 XBLIG version plagiarised by Connect Media UG. Even more suspiciously, Hong noted "This XBLIG version of Magnetized has been block[ed] in Taiwan. So I can't download and find it in my country."

Not only was this commercial console version plagiarised, it wasn't as good as the original browser game as it omitted the music. Composer Robert Conquer also took to the IndieGames comments section to voice his outrage. "I contributed music to the original game. Sickens me how someone could do this. Microsoft should not only take this down immediately but compensate Rocky for the damages!"

Microsoft, Google and Windows quickly realised the mistake and all plagiarised versions of Magnetized have since been removed, Hong noted on his blog earlier today. But how did this happen in the first place? Simple: XBLIG is a peer-reviewed process, and it's all too easy for busy game developers to naturally assume someone isn't stealing someone else's game wholesale.

One such peer-developer commented on the situation on the IndieGames thread. "I was one of the peer-reviewers who passed this game on XBLIG. Please accept my apologies. In future I will be more careful when reviewing games on the service and will no longer pass any game from the 'developer' Connect Media UG," they wrote.

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This is much harder than it looks.

Incredibly, Connect Media UG appeared on the IndieGames thread and explained, "We tried to contact Rocky about bringing Magnetized to XBLIG, Android and WinRT before development started but we never received a response so we thought he didn't care about Magnetized anymore." Hong replied below saying he never received such a message, and even if he did, the company would still need his permission to port his game.

The thief then noted, "It was planned to share the revenue. 20 per cent for us and 80 per cent for Rocky, because it's his idea."

"Magnetized has been sold about 80 times. We will give the money (about $50-60, stores take about 30 per cent) to Rocky when XBLIG pays."

I've tried to contact Connect Media UG for a further statement, but have yet to hear back.

Naturally, a mere $50-$60 to avoid a potentially devastating lawsuit is a poor offer, and Hong could have destroyed the company. But instead, Hong, like a boss, decided to spare the fraudulent developer because it quite frankly wasn't worth his time.

"I decide[d] not to take their income from cloned game," Hong said on his blog [Note: English is not Hong's native language, and I've left his awkward phrasing as is]. "They have already taken huge damage on their reputation from this event. No matter how did this happen, the damage have been taken, and this damage can't be make up by money, the pirate should pay for their crime by their reputation and morality. I hope they won't do it again.

"The place we are bathed in now, the richest ocean of creations, is built by previous generation's huge efforts and hard work on copyrights," Hong concluded. "So, if we stop fighting for these rights and stop protecting this beautiful scene, then how should we face to next generation?"

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