A Mobile Game Published by ByteDance Is Accused of Plagiarism

Tech giant expanding in the game industry has suffered setbacks.
By Julius Chen
Dec. 3, 2021 updated 06:43

On Nov 30th, Jump, a new Chinese game publisher, accused tech giant ByteDance of plagiarizing their newly released Candy Disaster - Tower Defense.

Candy Disaster - Tower Defense is a 3D tower defense game produced by the small game studio ACE Entertainment LLC. and launched on steam on Nov 12th, receiving 90% positive reviews. The game was published by Jump and also is the second game released by Jump.

As the developers were working on the mobile version’s beta launch in early 2022, an extremely similar mobile game appeared on TapTap, a popular mobile game community in China. According to this article posted on Jump's official social media, on the same day that Candy Disaster launched on Steam, a mobile game named Where the Chicken Run began testing on TapTap. In this game's information page, the publisher was shown as Ohayoo, a division of ByteDance.

The test page of Where the Chicken Run displayed in the article of JumpThe test page of Where the Chicken Run displayed in the article of Jump

On its website, Ohayoo claims that it is a leading casual game publishing platform that empowers developers to monetize their games and brings joy to players worldwide. As the subsidiary of ByteDance, Ohayoo has a natural synergy with social media networks like TikTok. Games published by Ohayoo gained more than 500 million downloads, and eight of them have hit No. 1 on the Chinese free game list.

In the article, Jump pointed out that the similarities between Where the Chicken Run and Candy Disaster are "shocking and uncanny," and used numerous images and GIFs to back up their point that Where the Chicken Run is very likely to be a lazy clone of their own game. As Candy Disaster released its first test demo on February 26, 2020, and Where the Chicken Run was firstly launched in September 2021, it’s very hard for Ohayoo to argue that the similarities are just coincidence.

Ground thorn trap comparison: Candy Disaster(left) Where the Chicken Run (right)Ground thorn trap comparison: Candy Disaster (left) Where the Chicken Run (right)

UI design comparison: Candy Disaster(left) Where the Chicken Run (right)UI design comparison: Candy Disaster (left) Where the Chicken Run (right)

Jump also indicated that Shenzhen Sanke Games, the developer of Where the Chicken Run, is a professional mobile game plagiarist, and their other games seem to have many elements in common with successful games. 

Currently, Where the Chicken Run has been removed from TapTap and information relevant to it cannot be found on Ohayoo. Ohayoo and ByteDance have not yet commented on this incident.

It is quite a hard autumn for Ohayoo. In early November, after the government introduced stricter game industry restrictions, media exposed layoffs involving 79 employees at Ohayoo, including 30 new graduates. Ohayoo later responded that the layoffs were part of a normal business adjustment in which most of the employees were transferred to other positions within the company. Ohayoo's layoffs sent shockwaves through the Chinese gaming community, as it upended ByteDance's position as an aggressive recruiter of top talents in the game industry.