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Kev’s Slog #2 (title not finalized), posted by Kevin Lew

I was going to call this my Steam Condenser as I take Steam-related stories and condense them into an easy-to-read blog.  Then I found out that Steam Condenser is a real product used by Source developers.  I’m still looking for ideas.


The gaming company King–who makes the mobile game Candy Crush Saga–managed to trademark the words “candy” and “saga.”  For the most part, the targets have been other mobile games.  However, the latest news story has the Internet on fire.  King has sent a denial of trademark request for The Banner Saga because they use the word “saga” in it.  King admits that The Banner Saga, a turn based strategy game, has nothing to do with their match-3 game, but they want to defend their trademark.  As an aside, the first chapter of The Banner Saga is available now on Steam.

Some experts estimate that Candy Crush Saga generates a million dollars in revenue for King every two days, so this has the appearance of a powerful corporation bullying a smaller studio.  Stoic is essentially three people, and the company is based in my city of Austin.  Gaming journalists and fans have quickly noted how this reeks of other trademark trolling, like the former “Edge” trademark fiasco.  As you can expect, this has become a PR disaster for King.  Their representatives have already made press releases stating that they don’t want The Banner Saga to change its name, but they just don’t want Stoic to trademark the name of their game.  This is practically saying, “We don’t want you to change anything, just surrender all rights to your product’s name.”  Stoic has recently stated that they are going to fight to retain the trademark.

In some ways this shows how broken and bad the U.S. trademark rules are, an ironic topic as CJ Ovalle (this site’s owner) is writing his doctoral thesis on copyright law.


Hitman: Contracts, a game made in 2004, just showed up on Steam.  This is easy to miss as the game is not part of the Hitman Collection box set.  This is an important development as the game was previously banned from Steam distribution.  I’m surprised that there’s not more fanfare or even an announcement that it’s finally been released.

In the fifth mission, the song “Immortal” by Clutch plays in the background of one of the bars that you visit.  Due to the licensing deal with the band, the song wasn’t allowed for digital distribution.  As a result every Hitman game could be bought on Steam except for Contracts.  According to the Steam forums, the song is still there so presumably the song got licensed again.  It only took roughly seven years.


A game called The Castle Doctrine is being developed by Jason Rohrer and it will end the beta soon.  Jason recently made headlines around gaming news sites when he posted a very interesting and very controversial article about how Steam sales harm both developers and consumers.  While I don’t want to get into the details on that, he did make some interesting points and they have a degree of validity.  Regardless, even Jason can’t deny that developers need Steam including The Castle Doctrine itself.  This is another game that bypassed Greenlight, I might add.

The Castle Doctrine is a very different roguelike because the idea is that everybody has a house and a family.  You play the husband and your job is breaking into other people’s homes and stealing all of their money.  While you rob everybody else, they in turn try to rob you.  You can spend the money on better security and personal defense items to kill the other players.  Remember that it’s a roguelike and the death of your character (or your family) is permanent.  It’s the only game that I know where the objective is to grief everybody else.  This dark game is selling well so far.

To promote the upcoming launch of his game, Jason is doing a very unique promotion called “Steal Real Money.”  The idea is that, in one week, everybody will try to steal as much in-game money as possible.  Afterwards, all players will be tallied by how much money is left in their vaults.  The top ten players will get have the in-game dollars converted to real cash.  Since all players can see whose houses have the most money at any time, it will be extremely difficult to stay on top for long.  If you’re wondering, Jason is using his own money to finance the contest.

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