Article on casual game cloning

Discussion in 'Development & Distribution' started by cliffski, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. cliffski

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  2. Sharpfish

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    It may be old but I hadn't read it before, I wonder if it's factually correct (especially the part about Portals merely interested in advertising MORE than selling games). It does paint a fairly bleak picture (but then we've been hearing this for the last 3 years).

    I think we can all agree by now that clones suck, and yet most of us can still understand WHY certain devs carry on doing them, articles like this saying it's easy to make $6000 in a short period of time by cloning probably don't help.

    It does make an interesting point about portals regulating clones. However I think in some ways all the negatives are also what has helped to bring larger markets to indie games, awareness, advertising, professional portal sites.

    I'll never make a clone myself (not because of some ethical standpoint but because I want to make games that are challenging to design, to keep me passionate about them), yet many others will... saturation may bring about natural evolution into other genres for the main 'casual' markets.

    As you can see, I don't really have anything clever/informative to say about this debate myself (kinda burned out on that topic ;) ) but it's clear it's not just about Clones on their own. It's about portals (future monopolies?) controlling the free market through money and power. There will always be the indie-guys making games for the hell of it... I suppose if we keep heading the way it's going now then before long devs will all be 'employed' by the portals to bang out flavour of the month titles, at least those who can't resist the lure of decent concrete income.

    I could say that I don't feel as positive about the indiegame arena (financially) as I did in 2004 for a variety of reasons, esp as a startup and not an established dev, but i'm still going to make games regardless. :)
     
  3. electronicStar

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    Actually the $6000 was their estimation of devellopment costs, they are saying that the develloper could have a return of 30,000 to 40,000 with a devellopment cost of $5,000 to 6,000.
     
  4. Sharpfish

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    yeah excuse the typo.. it's not really important though, just posting from memory of "some figure". $6000 or $60000 still implies "easy money to make from cloning" and i'm saying that blanket statments like that (even if true for one or a handful of devs) is part of the problem,people see the $$$ and start checking out the portal top tens for an easy target. Business's could exist purely to clone, purely motivated by money and the more coverage it gets the more widespread the problem becomes...

    ...until the portals/distributors take some notice and limit clones in some way, but they are not likely to do that because they too see the $$$.
     
  5. JoKa

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    I'm pretty happy that lawyers have no way to prevent clones. Although I agree it's really extreme at portals, it's great to have the freedom to create what you like. While many teams work on clones, others have the opportunity to come up and succeed with some fresh ideas. Those who take higher risk when making a new approach may also earn more than others who just clone cash-cows. More clones in one genre also means high competition, resulting in less income for most of the clone-developers. That means even the cloners need some new features to stand out of the crowd, so there's still "evolution".

    Just keep those f*ck*ng lawyers out of the design process ;)
     
  6. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    This one got a laugh out of me..

    "For example, said one SIG member, if id Software had copyrighted the first-person shooter game mechanic of its "Wolfenstein 3-D," there would never have been a "Quake" or a "Doom" or a "Half-Life." "

    ...haha...
     
  7. cliffski

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    The stuff about poor old innovative Diner Dash being cloned makes me puzzled. Its as though Beetys Beer bar was made in another universe.
     
  8. LilGames

    LilGames New Member

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    Deleted for being redundant.
    ;-D

    Hey the part he speaks of regarding portals and advertising is really interesting. Anyone have more information on this??
     
    #8 LilGames, Mar 13, 2007
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2007
  9. luggage

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    I thought that too, interesting how they can rewrite history.
     
  10. papillon

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    Of course, that's one of the reasons that bringing copyright into game design gets messy and stupid. It's much more difficult than the casual outsider thinks to say who's ripping off whom, and who was actually first.

    I flinch when people call me innovative over Cute Knight - I knew exactly who I was borrowing from.

    (My current project IS innovative! Nobody has ever done this that I know of! But it's still a combination of elements that have been used before, just not together.)
     
  11. Dan MacDonald

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    It's interesting, every time I think i have a unique idea for a game, I go poke around on youtube and sure enough there was some old game for the PCEngine or some other system that was 90% simmilar to what I was thinking of. :D
     
  12. ggambett

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    It's not like Joel hasn't heard of Betty's Beer Bar either...
     
  13. Agent 4125

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    From the article:
    I seem to remember the PopCap guys saying in one interview that Bejeweled was a clone of a game they found on some guy's home page. Since then, they haven't been able to find the original. Tetris, of course, was inspired by another game: pentominoes.

    In any artform, there's a certain progression of ideas as a whole, with everything falling in the spectrum between inspiration and imitation. So, I agree with JoKa, I'd rather have more games than more lawyers. :)
     
  14. cyrus_zuo

    cyrus_zuo New Member

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    Totally mystified by this comment as are others. Both games clearly followed the mechanics of previous games. I worry about the industry being represented by incorrect information coming from sources seen as experts.

    ...and I was going to start a post on the topic of cloning...but my last post serves just as well (http://forums.indiegamer.com/showpost.php?p=119601&postcount=17).

    As a secondary note, if you looked at the purely financial side it would be hard to state that similarity of games (i.e. clones) has been bad for the casual games industry as a whole and perhaps even games specifically. Is Bejeweled suffering financially b/c of all the similar games out there? I think it would be very difficult to show numbers that prove that point. The number of potential buyers has increased on the backs of clones, potentially increasing customers of all games greatly.

    The presumption that the industry would grow faster if there were less games released and more innovative games I believe is only a presumption? From what numbers I've seen the more innovative and different games released (there are several each week, even in the casual games space) tend to do much worse than games that are more similar to a current hit game. Of course I'd love to see more innovation and variety (again see my previous post on the topic for more of my thoughts on the topic), but I think the financial argument lacks some firm number backing.

    Notably I attended a session last week at the GDC on cloning, copyright and casual games at the GDC. It was interesting to see how Breakout received copyright protection and how Arkanoid was still considered different enough to not infringe. I walked out of that session more confused than ever over what is considered copyright infringement and what is not.

    Verbatim copying of code, images or sound are clearly infringement, but beyond that it seems copyright doesn't protect games very much. The lawyer mentioned that no gameplay patent case has gone to the supreme court so it is more difficult to talk about patent than it is to talk about copyright.

    It's an interesting bit topic though. One that has gone on since Pac-Man knock-offs became popular right through Arcade's biggest grossing years (Mortal Kombat, SF2 or Samurai Showdown...pick your flavor). I wonder if cloning offends my senses more now that I'm not the consumer?
     
  15. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I think the comment regarding Diner Dash and MCF is at least partially correct.

    While neither game was truly innovative/new they were both firsts in the sense that they were the first of the genre to be properly marketed to the audience.

    BBB was slightly more complex and didn't have the broad mainstream appeal DD did. Some major portals did not publish the game. MCF came in the wake of ispy spooky mansion doing well on Real, but again there were barriers to marketing, such as the game not appearing on many other portals, and having a huge download size.

    So both were 1sts in the market in the sense that they were targeted and marketed in a way that their predecessors weren't. If you weren't buying exclusively from real and weren't inclined to download a demo over 100mb then MCF was "first" for you.
     
  16. sound app

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    There's no way one can escape companies making doe on clones and ideas that work elsewhere. that's happening in every line of work and industry. I'm fine with this, as long as the 'exploitation' is decent and shows a real evolution.

    What's more worrying, to me, is when the concerned industry seems to find that normal and won't say a thing, just because money is made, and that is what business is about. The end (money) becomes the focus, when the focus should be on the development (creativity) so the 'customers' are hooked on quality and don't get cheated and bored. Or they will someday turn their back on you and your business will be dying.

    It worries me when i see that, now, in this very forum, ppl review a new game that's a blatant copycat of the style and gimmicks of a famous programmer active here, and no one says a word. If we can't clean up the mess (the blatant cloning) within this community, don't expect the community to blossom in harmony but expect it to explode and disappear.
     
  17. cliffski

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    Just because bejewelled sells well, doesn't mean it's not hurt by blatant clones. We have no idea what it's sales might achieve if it had not been so blatantly cloned, ditto zuma etc.
    Look at the sims, the biggest most financially successfull PC game in the universe. It has no competitors at all (except me :D), and it sells a stupendous amount.
    the difference between the two is that most coders think they can do a bejewlled clone in a reasonable time, whereas most coders (rightly) think that coding a life-simulation is insanely hard (it is).
    How well would the sims be doing if it had been cloned as much as Bejewelled? I suspect nowhere near its current (IMHO deserved) mega-sales.
     
  18. Nexic

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    Thanks for pointing that one out svero, I never noticed on my first read! Just recovered from a massive laughter attack. This and several other statements just go to show the article is written by someone who knows practically nothing about anything.
     
  19. Karima

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    Kim Pallister is converted into a female by the writer in one paragraph. Later in the article he is male again. Maybe the article was written in a hurry...
     

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