The Fight Against iOS Clones

Last week a clone of popular indie game Johann Sebastian Joust showed up in the iOS marketplace, and considerable consternation took place across the internet.  Mighty defense mechanisms rumbled into life, white knights charged on steeds of fiery outrage, and a few days later the clone was little more than a memory.  Papa Quash was removed from the iOS store and the developer came out looking like a pack of particularly squirmy weasels desperate to avoid any hint of blame for the game they created.

The thing that didn’t make any sense was- Why this game?  What was it about making an unauthorized clone of Johann Sebastian Joust that made so many people upset?

Early this year, Zynga cloned another popular game, Tiny Tower, with their blatant rip-off Dream Heights.  They were rightly spanked by the internet, although unlike Papa Quash’s developer Ustwo, Zynga knows no shame and still sells their game on the App Store.  Most clones at least make an attempt to differentiate themselves somehow, but putting screens of Dream Heights beside Tiny Tower shows such a stunning lack of creativity that there’s just no excuse possible.  Li’l Kingdom, on the other hand, is also a Tiny Tower clone, but the fantasy setting and gameplay quirks set it far enough apart that nobody really seems to mind.

Draw Something burst on to the scene this year and sold a billionty copies.  I’m willing to bet the developers of Charadium would have loved to be in on that, but life is unkind and, as the Rev Stu pointed out, the name kinda sucks.

And then there’s Tiny Wings, effortlessly using simple gameplay and an adorable concept to charm its way into everyone’s collective heart.  I mean sure, it’s a blatant clone of Wavespark, but you’ve got to admit that’s one adorable bird.

I’m honestly unsure why the outrage over Papa Quash, specifically.  Yes, it cloned a game, and the developer’s protestations (“We thought we had permission from Johann Sebastian Joust creator Die Gute Fabrik!  We were working on commission!) made them sound more interested in avoiding responsibility than being apologetic for having done it.  The nature of the market they’re working in, however, says this kind of game development isn’t just ok, it’ll pay off nicely.  Just about anything goes so long as you aren’t showing tits in an App Store product, and that includes copying the work of those who innovated before you.  It’s nice to see a stand against this attitude taken every now and then, but that’s one down, a few thousand to go.