Ikea threatens developer of indie horror game set in parody of store

Originally published at: Ikea threatens developer of indie horror game set in parody of store | Boing Boing


The real horror at Ikea is putting their junk crapola together, now that’s f’ing scary.


I’m trying to remember the name of that stand-up comic who uttered this threat: “Touch my “kicks” again… and Ikea!”

Damn… what’s his name?

1 Like

I presume this would be safe as a parody, and probably they could fight the suit but it’d take too much effort and money to do so. Shame that IKEA has no sense of humor



(Maybe they are experiencing consequences for not going after that one hard enough?)


Maybe they’re afraid of the larpers?




I question how easily the developer can actually meet all the demands Ikea is placing on them here. Changing the colors and shape of the building and switching to a non-Scandinavian name would be irksome, but doable, the same applies for the striped shirts. The real difficult one is the furniture, that’s a lot of fairly generic assets to replace.

Even if the dev does manage to change all these things I further question if the game will have any traction as a product. One of the main appeal points was that it was set in an Ikea-like environment as set out in the original SCP entry.


I preferred this one, personally.


I’m not sure that qualifies as larping, but it was delightful nonetheless. Zero regrets on watching, thank you for sharing!


It’s not like Ikea was the only store selling similar furniture. (And then something happened to those places…)

1 Like

He could change it to this, which definitely doesn’t look Swedish.

Not that five out of ten famously geography-loving Americans could tell the difference.


Yes, I’m sure they’re going to lose business because so many potential customers got confused and wandered into a horror video game by accident.


I don’t even think they’d have to go that far - it doesn’t seem like Ikea remotely has a case, they are, indeed, relying entirely on the inability of the developer to actually fight it. Ikea obviously has a problem that in reviews of the game, reviewers are explicitly referencing Ikea - but they know they can’t threaten the reviewers. The blue/yellow color scheme of Ikea may be trademarked, for example, but this is a game, not a competing furniture store. Otherwise I don’t see any sort of legal leg for Ikea to stand on - they aren’t using any names or even directly referencing anything Ikea-related. There’s no intellectual property laws that say that you’re not allowed to create a work of fiction that reminds people of a real thing.

But what kind of consequences? It’s not like there’s trademark issues at play, one area of IP where not being sufficiently litigious can have negative consequences. Are people associating their store with something creepy? That ship has sailed - there’s a bunch of creepypasta and stories in this vein. Ikea can’t police the idea that “Ikea stores are creepy,” especially since the creators of the fictions are making use of an existing widespread sentiment…

Apparently the building exterior (and name) only appears in the starting screen, so it’s very easily done. Replacing some colors inside the game is more problematic, but yeah, replacing generic furniture assets would be the significant issue, especially since they are generic assets. Obviously the real objection is that it’s furniture, but that probably seemed like an unreasonable objection too far, though clearly no other furniture assets will be seen as sufficient replacement, and they’ll have issues with those, too.


As with anything, it’s a question of degree. Reminding people of a thing is one thing, copying everything exactly is another - and then you have all the possible permutations inbetween.

Again this is where questions of degree come in. If the store design, the colours, the uniforms, the signage, the furniture all resemble IKEA’s designs and get-up, that’s potentially an issue. The fewer of those things resemble IKEA’s get-up, the less scope for successful complaint.

So “scandi-style” furniture on its own wouldn’t be enough to say “That’s IKEA!”, add more IKEA-like elements and you hit a tipping point at some stage. Take elements away and the still IKEA-like elements potentially become less of an issue.

Which expresses neatly the whole issue. This is a game which is deliberately using IKEA’s brand value to benefit itself.

If EA (do they still exist?) or Bethesda or firms on that scale were to do that, it would rightly be seen as a sucky thing to do.

The developer is in the UK and we don’t really have a “parody” defence to IP claims in the same way the US does.

It’s certainly true that changing the game pre-release is going to be a lot cheaper, easier and quicker than fighting a court case.

To a certain extent, whether that is true or not could be used as a metric as to whether a claim is likely to succeed or not.

If your specific IKEA-like get up is so important that changing it is harder than fighting a minimum year long, minimum £60k court case, then the fact that your game looks just like IKEA is presumably pretty damn important to you which means it is almost certainly infringing in some way.

1 Like

IKEA would be smart to lean into this. Everyone loves SCP-3008. My kids hate going to the store with me for anything but they will go to IKEA with me, because they love SCPs. Then of course I spent $20-50 more because I brought the little hooligans with me. So everyone wins.


I would posit that the various creepypasta and stories are largely isolated to one fairly obscure corner of the Internet, and that Ikea would very much prefer to keep it that way as much as possible. I can easily imagine one site or another popping up with an article starting, “I did some digging and here’s what’s really creepy about Ikea,” or something.

1 Like

We’re not talking about two works of fiction (or two stores), etc. We’re talking about a work of fiction and a store, two fundamentally different categories of things which by their nature cannot be exactly like each other. Until the game allows you to order actual furniture within it, which is delivered in flat packs to your house, this is a non-issue.

What kind of issue? It’s not a copyright issue. It’s not a trademark issue (the game is not a store, nor is Ikea getting into the game business).

Ikea the store does not itself feature in the game - but so what if it did? Real things are allowed to be in fiction, or at least they should be. Stephen King is allowed to write a book about an evil 1958 Plymouth Fury. Much modern media goes out of its way to avoid having real things in it, but that’s out of an abundance of caution over unreasonable litigation.

The game is not a store. It’s not based on the “brand value of Ikea,” it’s based on the idea “Ikea stores are creepy.” Because they are, or at least can easily be made so in fiction. Ikea is simply trying to censor speech in a vain effort to control how people think about their store, but they have no legal right to do so, even if could work (which it can’t).

Yeah, though the game probably wouldn’t have had even that sized audience. (I’ve seen far more references to the creepypasta than this, at least until the legal threats happened.) But a game is an easier target than distributed stories on the internet.

I vaguely remember another game with a similar premise (that apparently avoided the attention of the Ikea lawyers), but I can’t find any mention of it now because the search results are absolutely swamped with mentions of this game. Ikea’s legal threats have resulted in the Streisand effect writ large here. They wanted it isolated to obscure corners of the internet - well, it would have been, if they hadn’t stuck their noses in.


it’s tricky to keep track of which is which


Ah yeah, that looks like it might be the one I was thinking of (it appears they’re both the same project), though it may have been yet another one. Of course, that takes place at the “EKIA” store - totally different, so no problem there… but no one threatened to sue him, so it languishes in obscurity.