Fabulous is a mobile app for Android and iOS devices that promises to help users "build healthy habits in 30 days." That's not the sort of thing that usually lands on our radar, but it did yesterday when publisher Devolver Digital accused it of ripping off the artsy 2018 platformer Gris in an intro video.
It's not a frame-by-frame lift, but the similarities are pretty obvious. To its credit, Fabulous didn't try to deny it: Shortly after Devolver posted its tweet, Fabulous replied, saying that it had removed the video and was investigating the connection. "We've privately contacted Devolver Digital to resolve this," it wrote. "Any wrongdoing on our part was certainly not intentional."
The Fabulous app (@GetTheFabulous) ripped off GRIS and is reminder to all devs to be mindful of big companies and brands stealing creative work from smaller studios. pic.twitter.com/scg20wt4VjNovember 5, 2019
Today Fabulous co-founder and CEO Sami Ben Hassine shared the results of that investigation in a Medium blog post, saying that the company considers the matter "a mistake" on the part of one of its designers, who it is keeping anonymous to protect them from any undue blowback.
The designer issued a statement as part of Fabulous' explanation, however, explaining that they looked to Gris for inspiration for the new animation, but then "took the word 'inspired' way too far."
"I fully realize that I ripped off the game now, but in the animation process that wasn’t my intention at all. AT ALL. I was so amazed by the game animation, especially of the character’s cape that looks so much like Amber’s cape and I had no idea back then how to animate her cape (cloth animation is one of the hardest things to do), so I played the game cinematic over and over and over again to grasp the cape mechanics," they said.
"For the [Fabulous] opening scene (Amber in the big hand) that looks like [the] Gris opening scene, I liked the scene so much and thought it would fit perfectly into the Hero Journey animation so I did something similar to it with no intention to do so. Then, the cape movements, I did something similar with the same mistake in mind: I was only referring to the cape mechanics. I took things way too far and what I thought I was managing got slipped out of my control without me even noticing."
The similarities went unnoticed by the lead designer of Fabulous because they weren't familiar with Gris, and so had no reason to suspect that anything was amiss.
The animation has been removed from the app and a Devolver rep declined to comment on the matter further, which is probably about as good an ending as this situation was going to have. It's also a lesson for content creators everywhere: Be careful where you let "inspiration" take you, because people are going to notice.