Myth of Empires developer files a lawsuit to get it back on Steam

Earlier this month, the sandbox strategy game Myth of Empires was removed from Steam following a DMCA takedown request filed by Studio Wildcard and Snail Games, the developer and publisher of Ark: Survival Evolved. They claimed that the source code for Myth of Empires was actually based on the source for Ark, which a former Snail Games employee had stolen before leaving to found his own studio.

Angela Game, the developer of Myth of Empires, strenuously denied any wrongdoing, and predictably the matter ended up in court. On December 9, Angela Game filed a complaint against Snail Games and Studio Wildcard, again denying any wrongdoing and requesting an injunction against the DMCA takedown request—essentially, a court order that it be lifted.

The filing says evidence presented by Snail Games to bolster its claim—a preliminary analysis found hundreds of class, variable, and function names shared by both games—is incomplete and misleading, and in any event such names "are not copyrightable and are not subject to copyright control."

The filing also denies that Myth of Empires was built on stolen source code, and says the allegations that it was, and its subsequent removal from Steam, have "caused and threatens to cause irreparable harm" to Angela Game.

Earlier this week, Snail Games and Studio Wildcard filed a detailed response saying that Angela Game "has come nowhere close to justifying any relief, in any form," and re-alleging—in much greater detail—what it describes as the "brazen theft of Snail USA and Wildcard's intellectual property."

"Angela's misconduct began in November 2018, when Yang Li Ping, an employee of Snail USA's parent in China (Snail Game), requested and received access to Ark's source code—for seemingly legitimate reasons," the filing states. "But he secretly copied the source code, and a few months later, left to work at Angela."

Yang was not alone in this endeavor, according to the suit: "Of the 82 persons whose names appear in the screen credits for Angela's game, 60 are Snail Game ex-employees." The filing also claims that, since the DMCA takedown request was made, Angela Game has been "frantically modifying the code" of Myth of Empires to remove evidence of copying.

Snail's response also includes declarations from Studio Wildcard cofounder Jeremy Stieglitz, Snail Games USA CEO Jim Shun Tsai, and BattlEye CEO Bastian Suter, further detailing the process by which Snail Games and Studio Wildcard became aware of, and then analyzed, the similarities between the games. Stieglitz described the initial similarities between Myth of Empire's executable, acquired via Steam, and that of Ark: Survival Evolved as "shocking," and said that since its initial analysis, "We have found hundreds more such reflected header matches. Every day we spend analyzing MoE's 'table of contents,' we find more such matches."

In his statement, Tsai noted that Studio Wildcard took great pains to ensure that Ark: Survival Evolved's source code was kept secret, presumably to imply that theft is the only way Angela Game could have acquired it.

"All employees of Wildcard, Snail USA, and Snail Games signed nondisclosure agreements promising to maintain technical secrets, like software, in confidence, and not to provide that material to third party," Tsai said. "The source code was also stored on a server that could be accessed by only those employees who were given login credentials to that server."

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