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Wizards of the Coast sues Cryptozoic

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I know these articles are usually more about fun new Standard brews or lighthearted stories, today I want to talk about something both more and less important at the same time.

Wizards of the Coast is suing Cryptozoic, the creators of Hex, for copyright infringement. 

Lawsuits are not what we are typically concerned about as Magic players (nor should we be), but it is vitally important to the health of the game as a whole that its intellectual property is protected. I know people are all over the place on the spectrum of whether or not Wizards has a case here, but looking over the specific complaint, it's hard not to see Wizards' point. When cards function basically the same way and even names are lifted nearly directed from their inspiration in Magic (Lifelink vs. Lifedrain, really?), you see where WOTC is coming from.

I'm going to picture Hasbro's lawyers looking exactly like this.
I'm going to picture Hasbro's lawyers looking exactly like this.

I know people like to say stuff like "$100 fetches are going to kill Magic!" but the reality is that stuff outside of players' control is more likely to do the deed. I haven't played Hex, but I do play Hearthstone, and while it's not as good as Magic in terms of gameplay it's a heck of a lot more accessible online, and that goes a long way. Wizards definitely can't stop all other cards games from coming out (nor do they want to), but it does seem entirely fair that they don't want something that copies nearly directly from Magic to be out on the streets. And make no mistake, Hex seems more like a port of Magic than an aesthetically-similar game (Giant Growth was renamed to Wild Growth and does the same effect for the same mana cost, for instance).

Of course, I'm obviously not a lawyer, so when I say "Wizards has a case" I mean in the common-sense sort of way moreso than the legal way. It will definitely be interesting to see how this plays out. Any predictions or insight into this one?

Corbin Hosler

Corbin Hosler is a journalist living in Norman, Oklahoma (also known as the hotbed of Magic). He started playing in Shadowmoor and chased the Pro Tour dream for a few years, culminating in a Star City Games Legacy Open finals appearance in 2011 before deciding to turn to trading and speculation full-time. He writes weekly at QuietSpeculation.com and biweekly for LegitMTG. He also cohosts Brainstorm Brewery, the only financial podcast on the net. He can best be reached @Chosler88 on Twitter.

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13 thoughts on “Wizards of the Coast sues Cryptozoic

  1. “Untap cards at the beginning of each card” Page 17.

    Well played lawer, can’t even do is Job.

    By the way I have this kind of attack. Sure WOTC want to protect their IP but I don’t see why some challenger would hurt them (let’s set aside HearthStone)

  2. I play HEX quite a bit actually, and while the game can appear to be quite similar, I think there is enough difference for Cryptozoic to keep doing what they are doing.

    Your point about Lifelink vs Lifedrain does point out a strong similarity. But fanatasy worlds often have this sort of effect. Lifeleech, Lifesteal, being a vampire, whatever you call it, “attacking causes the attacker to gain life”… not sure you can successfully sue someone over that.

    Its funny how when World of Warcraft TCG comes out, Magic can do Provoke, and when Twilight movies come out, Magic does Vampires, but as soon as its the other way around, they sick the lawyers like rabid pitbulls.

  3. Krond, read through the suit. I think it was roughly pages 16-19 that outlined quite a long list of nearly identical aspects of both games.

    This isn’t a case of a couple random references here or there, it’s a case of fundamentally designing a game to look and feel like another (aka, copying).

    The vampire comparison doesn’t hold any water because vampires, themselves, can’t be copyrighted. It’s wholly public domain. But the problem arises when you steal or come too close to someone’s uniquely designed mythos containing vampires (see: Whitewolf vs Underworld).

    …and that’s what Cryptozoic (at least according to WotC … and it’s outlined in great detail in the brief) is doing with Hex.

    1. I did read the entire document. And yes, I agree that there’s a big bucket list of similarities. But I don’t think it’s enough for Wizards to stop Crytozoic.

      I’m sure it wouldn’t take long to make up a similarly long list of similarities between Call of Duty and Battlefield, or Starcraft and Command and Conquer, or Diablo 3 and Path of Exile. It’s not like the first game in a genre gets a bulletproof monopoly on all future games (ie: not every FPS is Doom, not every fighting game is Street Fighter, others are allowed to exist).

      But, like Corbin and most of you folks, I am not a lawyer. I’m not sure who has the letter of the law on their side. I DO think that Cryptozoic has the ability to keep doing what they’re doing.

      1. A bucket list of similarities? There is a list of things the game want to accomplish before it dies of similarities?

        Other fighting games are allowed to exist than Street Fighter. That isn’t what this lawsuit is about. A fighting game isn’t allowed to come along and have a character named Ryo with a white gi and a red headband with moves like the “cyclone” kick and “dragon uppercut”. Hex copied mechanics, aesthetics, cards, game progression, hand size, tapping, card names, etc. Hex is too similar to Magic to be legally allowed.

  4. Wait…..the Ryo thing happened with King of Fighters. That’s how Dan was born! On a more topical note, one of my friends played Crypto’s WoW CCGs and contantly said is was almost exactly like magic just without the lands. What makes Hex a case and WoW not?

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