Kairosoft, the Beloved Mobile Tycoon Game Developer, Openly Accuses its Chinese Publisher of Copyright Infringement and Contract Violation

Kairosoft, the established Japanese mobile game studio known for its tycoon management games like Game Dev Story and Pocket Academy, recently published an open letter to Chinese gamers. In the letter, Kairosoft CEO Kazuyuki Usui claimed that its Chinese publisher Beijing Shi Jun has been violating their business contract since 2018, using Kairosoft's source code to develop copy-cat games.

Kairosoft's casual simulation games have won over an international market.

Kairosoft and Beijing Shi Jun signed the contract in 2017, where Beijing Shi Jun gained Kairosoft's games' publishing and operating rights in China. However, things went out of hand quickly. Beijing Shi Jun lured players to pre-order games without Kairosoft's authorization in 2018, causing gamers to lose trust in the franchise. Beijing Shi Jun also refused to share the games' operating statistics and revenue with Kairosoft, leaving the company completely in the dark about how their game was performing in the Chinese market.

It did not end there: Beijing Shi Jun used Kairosoft's source code to develop low-quality copy-cat games such as 'Inn in Chang'an' and 'Three Kingdom Tale', using Kairosoft's trademark and reputation to deceive the Chinese players.

Left: Inn in Chang'an by Beijing Shi Jun, Right: Hot Springs Story by Kairosoft

According to the open letter, Kairosoft sent out a termination notice for the contract back in 2018. Beijing Shi Jun cut off the communication and has since continued to sell Kairosoft games and copy-cat games without authorization. At first, Kairosoft obeyed the legal requirement to not disclose contract details and did not want to disturb the current players with the messy conflict. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that a large majority of Kairosoft's games were taken down from the Chinese iOS store due to regulation issues, the 20-person studio is in a dire situation and had no option but to voice its concerns to the public. In the letter, it appeared that Kairosoft had found a new Chinese publisher this year, but it will take time for all the companies involved to navigate the legal traps in the previous contract with Beijing Shi Jun.

The letter caused a heated discussion in the Chinese gaming community. Kairosoft has been one of the most beloved developers in China. Many players were shocked that the studio had been cheated in broad daylight and had to suffer such daunting legal issues. Players were also furious to realize that the games they paid money for were neither authorized nor original.

Beijing Shi Jun has not yet publicly responded to the matter. However, since Kairosoft posted this letter on their TapTap forum, and Beijing Shi Jun still has the moderator role on the forum, this letter is soon taken down and only screenshots remain. TapTap claims they feel sorry for the situation, and Kairosoft fans are working hard to get this message across.

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