Sony recently held a costume design contest for the “Sackboy” character in their video game LittleBigPlanet, and fans have accused them of stealing costume design ideas from non-winning entries. Sony has released a statement denying this accusation.
If you’re not familiar with the game, take a look at the trailer above. Players control small customizable “Sackboy” characters to solve puzzles and interact with a 3D environment.
So what happened? Well, Sony picked a winner and offered the winning costume as a free download for LittleBigWorld players. THEN, they released additional costumes as well, but charged money for them. And that’s when the great Costume Controversy began.
Sony’s new costumes are remarkably similar to several non-winning contest entries. Fans have cried foul, accusing Sony of copying and profiting from their uncredited costume designs.
Here are a few examples of design similarities provided by the disgrunted gamers.
As you can see, there ARE strong similarities between the costume designs. But did Sony do anything illegal? It doesn’t appear to be the case. All contest participants agreed to Sony’s Terms & Conditions before submitting their artwork. The fine print of the contest rules makes it clear that all submitted materials became the property of Sony. Case closed, it would seem.
But Sony went a step further and denied that any copying took place at all. According to a Sony representative:
“This was always going to be a possibility when we ran the costumer competition – releasing new costumes which are similar in theme to ones that were entered. Here’s the fact of the matter, the art team who are responsible for designing new original (ie unlicensed) costumes were involved at the very final stage of judging, by which time the number of entries had been whittled down to 10 from each batch of entries (Europe, Japan, USA). If at any time we take inspiration from a costume competition entry that didn’t win overall we will contact the creator directly.”
Hmm, so what are the disgruntled Sackboy costume designers to do? There’s probably nothing they CAN do. Legally, Sony has their fine print to fall back on. Plus, it’s awfully hard to copyright a penguin or a shark.
But this costume fiasco does indeed make Sony look bad. Someone in their PR department should come forward and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that their new costumes pre-existed before the contest. Until then, their integrity and goodwill towards fans will be questioned and scorned by many.
Feel free to sound off with your opinion in the comments below.