There’s been a lot of news over the last few days about Blizzard and Netease (Blizzard’s Chinese distributor) taking legal action against an alleged Hearthstone clone. The company accused of creating and distributing this clone is Unico Interactive, a mobile game development company based out of Shanghai. The game in question is The Legend of the Sleeping Dragon whose logo itself seems suspiciously similar to Blizzard’s famous card game.
However few sites seem to have actually played The Legend of the Crouching Dragon so it seems only fair to give the game a whirl and find out exactly how much of case Blizzard has. The game is available for Android and jailbroken iOS only.
These battles look familiar
The core mechanics of The Legend of the Crouching Dragon are identical to Hearthstone. There’s the slowly increasing mana, the scenic battle areas and of course the player characters abilities.
The battles really do feel like a straight copy of Hearthstone and what I find very strange is Unico Interactive’s blatantness about this.
Their home page proudly shows pictures of people playing The Legend of the Crouching Dragon on big screen TVs and android tablets. My god they even have booth babes!
These are not the actions of a company that is sneaking around, Unico Interactive has been shouting from the mountain tops and I just can’t understand what they thought was going to happen.
In Scotland we have a word to describe those who are always trying to get a free pint, or make a quick buck, they are referred to as “chancers” and Unico Interactive just made the top of my chancer list.
The cards in The Legend of the Crouching Dragon are statistically identical to those in Hearthstone and after several hours of playing I could not find a single card that did not have a twin in Hearthstone. The only differences are the names of the cards and the artwork which have been adapted to the story (that’s right, story, more on that later) and considering the amount of effort that Blizzard has put into making the cards just right it’s not surprising that they feel the need to protect this investment.
A campaign mode?
OK so there are a few differences, the most obvious being a campaign mode and a plot. Now before anybody gets too excited the campaign mode is pretty limited and basically involved walking in a straight path through the countryside dispatching various enemies. What the campaign does do is allow for offline play. This is a great addition for most Chinese gamers seeing how data plans are surprisingly expensive here, especially if you move between provinces.
However even the campaign is lazy, just another Three Kingdoms story, which is one of the most common settings for computer games in China, think Dynasty Warriors and you’ve got it. There’s nothing inspiring here or new, it’s just a small feature added to differentiate itself from Hearthstone.
Now I am not a big believer in copyright infringement because, as the recent Saga scandal has shown, copyright is often used by bigger guys to step on littler guys for Machiavellian business interests I can’t begin to understand. But, this time it’s legit. Unico Interactive has blatantly ripped off Hearthstone’s entire game and the had the arrogance to boast about it!
I have no idea if they thought that the inclusion of a crappy little campaign mode would justify their game or if they thought that no one would notice, but this blatant theft is totally unacceptable and the company needs to face the consequences.