Moral Compass: Developing Clone Games

#1
For every successful new game, there will be clones made in an attempt to cash in on its success. Some games are blatant copies of the original but get a free pass (or simply ignored) because either they're terrible or because they're on a different platform. Some games take inspiration from the original and become either "good enough" games for those wanting to play more games like the original, or they spin the original concept well enough to become original games in their own right.

We wonder how the larger companies like Gameloft and Zynga are able to copy other games blatantly and get away with it, while smaller developers whose games bear a passing resemblance to the original games are forced to make sweeping changes. Sometimes we find games by indie developers that are similar enough to well known other games, that we wonder why they didn't spend their effort on an original concept.

For some of these games, the answer may not be so obvious. In one particular case that happened to a good friend of mine, the game was already completed before the licence was revoked. As an indie developer, spending almost a year developing a game on your own savings before being blind-sided really hurts, and your options are limited if you thought that you were working with the other party in good faith.

My friend decided not to spend some time to re-skin and release the game out of respect for the original designer, but I'm not so sure that I could do the same. If you found yourself in a similar situation, could you avoid the temptation to release a clone game?
 

LAUGHTREY

Modesty becomes a woman
#6
Some good things have come from it. A lot of shooters on the N64 just copied Doom, and that lead to Turok and Duke Nukem. And then because it was so saturated with Doom clones they made Goldeneye more realistic, and then Perfect Dark followed.
 
#7
Only thing that worry me about making a game for iOS Apple really should try and cut down or any lawyers its a gold mine on there I'am shock no one do anything yet
 
#8
There's nothing wrong with "cloning" others' ideas and iterating on them, it's in the very foundations of (not only) this industry. Good "clones" will stick, the bad ones will be forgotten, and that's really all there is to it.
 
#9
I think people are misunderstanding what "clone" means in the mobile space. It's not simply copying a game mechanic or two, setting, or idea, it's not uncommon for a clone to be figuratively copy/pasting entire games with only the graphics/names changed.
 
#10
For every successful new game, there will be clones made in an attempt to cash in on its success. Some games are blatant copies of the original but get a free pass (or simply ignored) because either they're terrible or because they're on a different platform. Some games take inspiration from the original and become either "good enough" games for those wanting to play more games like the original, or they spin the original concept well enough to become original games in their own right.

We wonder how the larger companies like Gameloft and Zynga are able to copy other games blatantly and get away with it, while smaller developers whose games bear a passing resemblance to the original games are forced to make sweeping changes. Sometimes we find games by indie developers that are similar enough to well known other games, that we wonder why they didn't spend their effort on an original concept.

For some of these games, the answer may not be so obvious. In one particular case that happened to a good friend of mine, the game was already completed before the licence was revoked. As an indie developer, spending almost a year developing a game on your own savings before being blind-sided really hurts, and your options are limited if you thought that you were working with the other party in good faith.

My friend decided not to spend some time to re-skin and release the game out of respect for the original designer, but I'm not so sure that I could do the same. If you found yourself in a similar situation, could you avoid the temptation to release a clone game?
Maybe this will be enlightening.
 
#12
What Tekno said.

Drawing inspiration from, or trying to emulate a successful property is wholly different from what people accuse Zynga and Gameloft and other copy companies of doing with their clones.

The mobile space feels like the wild west right now in this regard and (unsurprisingly) small devs are getting their shit handed to them by unscrupulous companies with money.

Capitalism has no morals.
And that's the problem. That's why we need the courts to protect the small indie devs with creative ideas.


There's nothing wrong with "cloning" others' ideas and iterating on them, it's in the very foundations of (not only) this industry. Good "clones" will stick, the bad ones will be forgotten, and that's really all there is to it.
What if they don't iterate on them, but just replace the original because the clone company can swamp the (uncaring) audience with better marketing - or beat the original dev to a new marketplace?

I haven't yet met an actual developer agreeing with the practice. We as game fans especially shouldn't condone this.

Again, be aware of the differences.
 
#13
Game design very quickly becomes generic and public domain. The slightly sordid and low budget nature of the mobile market just takes away some of the sheen of glamour and respectability of the older industry. But it's the same basic operation, just there are fewer people trying to do something new because everyone knows it is a waste of effort.

Ignoring morals and sense of justice, getting the law involved would just make it about money and corporate power.
 
#14
Where would gaming be today if some unscrupulous individual hadn't cloned the Magnavox Odyssey's tennis game and released it in bars? How many classic home computer games were nothing but shameless clones of popular mainframe games, from ADVENT to Zork? This entire hobby was built on cloning; it's too late to put the genie back in the bottle, and I'm not sure you'd want to if you could.

That being said, the idea of an alternate history where no one was ever allowed to rip off Dungeons & Dragons does have a certain allure.