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The Million Dollar Fraud of Cross Gate’s Remake and Stolen Code

By Weilin Li
Sep. 16, 2022 updated 08:40

Cross Gate was one of the pioneering MMOs in the early 2000s developed by Dwango and published by Square Enix. It has a decent following in China, even many years after the termination of its service.

Two years ago, Cross Gate’s license holder in China outsourced the development of a remastered version of the original game on mobile platforms. However, bootleg versions of the game came out on the market even earlier than the legitimate one.

Recently published police reports show that the story is a lot more dramatic than a simple rip-off and even involves the vice president of the contracted developer of the remake.

Since the game still retains its brand value and has a fair share of fans, the development company took it seriously and assigned its vice president Zhang to lead the project for Cross Gate Memories V1.0, the code name for the mobile remastered version.

However, Zhang resigned from the company in the mid-stage of the project.

Despite this, the development of the Cross Memories V1.0 project continued to progress well. Even through the tough times of the pandemic, it was completed relatively on schedule in January 2022.

Before the new game was ready to be published, the license holder of Cross Gate discovered, to their surprise, that a game called Cross Gate Nostalgic Edition was already on the market and operating and looked almost exactly like the real thing.

The license holder was rightfully furious, quickly reported the case and forced the counterfeit to be taken down from all online stores. When everyone thought that was the end, another copycat game called Dou Xiyou quickly went online once again. 

The knockoff game Dou Xiyou appeared online shortly after Cross Gate Nostalgic Version was removed.The knockoff game Dou Xiyou appeared online shortly after Cross Gate Nostalgic Version was removed.

Comparisons between Cross Gate Memories V1.0 and the copycat games. The actual game and the replica look almost exactly the same.Comparisons between Cross Gate Memories V1.0 and the copycat games. The actual game and the replica look almost exactly the same.

As a result, the license holder of Cross Gate refused to pay the negotiated 8 million CNY (~1.1 million USD) development compensations, forcing the contracted developers to report the case to the police out of anger and hopelessness.

After investigation, authorities found that Cross Gate Nostalgic Edition, Dou Xiyou, and Cross Gate Memories V1.0’s code had a similarity of over 90%, and the games’ art, gameplay, monsters, and maps are basically copied and pasted.

And that’s exactly how the two rip-offs were developed. The vice president Zhang who “resigned” conveniently in the middle of the development, founded his own company, copied and pasted the whole project with the help of a couple of his former colleagues, gave it a title, and launched it to the market without anyone’s notice or permission.

Before the bootleg game was taken down, it received more than 23 million CNY (~3.3 million USD) in illegal income within six months of its release.

Currently, Zhang and seven other suspects involved in the case have been arrested and face sentences for copyright infringement.

Source: Shanghai Law Journal