Updated: Roam dev calls out 505 Games for 'blatant' copycat zombie game

Updated: Roam dev calls out 505 Games for 'blatant' copycat zombie game
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

October 28th 2013 at 1:54PM

But 505 claims its zombie title How to Survive has been under development for two years and points to early development videos that narrowly predate Roam Kickstarter

[UPDATED BELOW]

The developer behind a successfully crowdfunded zombie survival game has attacked 505 Games for “blatantly” stealing his game idea after approaching him with a publishing deal.

Roam’s lead creator Ryan Sharr explained on Kickstarter that 505’s game, How to Survive, reproduced specific control mechanics, game design fundamentals and its art style in what he described as “blatant theft”.

“I watched the trailer and as soon as 505 Games popped up it sounded familiar. I did some digging in my inbox and found that 505 Games had indeed contacted me about a Roam publishing deal. I couldn’t believe it,” wrote Sharr, a former Gas Powered Games developer.

“I am not foolish. There are tons of zombie games out on the market and a lot borrow ideas from each other. Until I saw the original email that 505 had sent I thought this could just be another coincidence. It is not a coincidence.

“This particular theft is blatant and 505 Games took advantage of the situation knowing full well what they were doing. This shows how much respect they have towards the industry and their fans.”

He went on to publish an email apparently from Evan Icenbice, a senior producer at 505, sent on January 30th, 2013 – shortly after Sharr launched his Kickstarter for Roam.

Roam was successfully crowdfunded in February 2013 for $102,518, far exceeding its $40,000 goal. 505’s How to Survive was developed by Eko Software and launched last week on PC as well as digital stores.
Sharr is concerned that the any stigma surrounding it could damage his title.

“The most upsetting part about all of this is that 505 Games is an established company. They have many titles released under their belt. We are just trying to get our foot through the door into the industry and these guys are trying to slam it shut,” he added.

“Due to the nature of Kickstarter I had to post all of Roam’s design ideas online to get funded. I threw everything I had into this. I put everything on the line for this project and took a huge risk. I moved across the country for this game. My partner is at risk. It isn’t fair that 505 Games thinks they can do this. They shouldn’t get to reap the rewards off of my risk.

“I do not mind friendly competition. When it is blatantly obvious that they stole Roam from us and didn’t even try to distinguish itself is when it is crossing the line.”

I response to Sharr allegations, a spokesperson for 505 Games told Develop: “We're disappointed to hear of this comment by the developer of Roam. How To Survive has been in development for over two years, this was codenamed ‘Monster Island’, which you can see on the Eko website. The Eko director was also interviewed by Nintendo Everything a few weeks ago and talked about the history of the games development.

“We deeply regret such statements that question Eko Software’s work and feel we need to protect their honest labour to minimise the negative effects irresponsible comments are having on the game.”

505 added that the agreement between Eko Software and itself was signed in 2012, and pointed to a video published on January 10th, 2013 (not shown on in the December 2012 blog post, but according to the posting code on Vimeo) showing what it said is the game in a development phase.

UPDATE: After being shown links to Monster Island, Sharr has now published an update on his Kickstarter page accepting that Eko Software’s How to Survive is “fair”, and apologising for his allegations.

“I don’t think anyone else would have reacted any differently about something they are so passionate about given the circumstances. I apologize to 505 and Ekosoft for causing a scene,” Sharr wrote.