The Legally Questionable Rise of Stumble Guys

Jonathan Gibson, Staff Writer

Stumble Guys, an online mobile game, has swept the world over the last few months. According to Game Analytics, Stumble Guys has made over forty million dollars in revenue. However, a glaring problem is eminent, the game is a blatant copy of the video game “Fall Guys”. Releasing in 2020, Fall Guys gained massive popularity when the game became free on the Epic Game Store this summer. Averaging almost 1,000,000 individual players each day, Fall Guys certainly has a large player base. In Fall Guys contestants compete in different modes such as races, survival modes, and final challenges. Stumble Guys has nearly the same things and even some of the same game modes. 

Despite the questionable nature of the game, it is extremely popular. One of the key reasons for this is the accessibility of the game. With Fall Guys, it can only be played at home, on a computer, or console. Stumble Guys, on the other hand, can be played anywhere. As a mobile game, Stumble Guys is something that can be played anywhere, an attribute that is greatly valued in today’s gaming environment. Stumble Guys also has significantly quicker rounds than Fall Guys, allowing it to be played if someone does not have much time.

With such obvious similarities, it is called into question how Stumble Guys is allowed to exist and profit. The answer to this question lies in the details of copyright laws. Copyright is the protection of intellectual property such as characters and music. However, Stumble Guys does not copy any intellectual property from Fall Guys, only the game concepts. Additionally, Stumble Guys is made by Kitka Games, a Finnish game development company. This makes it harder for any legal dispute to take place due to the international procedures that would be required. Stumble Guys has managed to dance just on the edge of violating intellectual property laws without actually crossing that line. The characters have very similar designs but are not the same. The maps look similar but are named differently and have slightly different features. With this in mind, Stumble Guys is a masterpiece of navigating the edge of the law, but they may not be entirely safe.

What would happen if Fall Guys were to sue Stumble Guys in court? Court cases like this depend on precedent, the rulings in previous cases similar to this one. The precedent, in this case, would most likely be Tetris Holding v Xio Interactive, a case where a company made a mobile game that was extremely similar to the popular game, Tetris. The court ruled in favor of Tetris Holding, affirming that a game’s general look and feel are protected under copyright. This prior precedent strongly supports the case that Fall Guys may have against Stumble Guys.

There is one more variable that must be considered, profit. Stumble Guys may not be taking away any income from Fall Guys. They cater to two different audiences, being mobile and computer players respectively. So rather than taking interest away from Fall Guys, Stumble Guys may be doing the opposite. According to Google Trends, when searches for Stumble Guys increased, searches for Fall Guys increased as well. So, while Fall Guys may be able to win a lawsuit should it go into court, perhaps the real question they should be asking is, “Should we sue them?”