PopCap attacks "copycat" designs

Discussion in 'Feedback Requests' started by Teeth, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Magnetica is kind of an interesting case! One has to wonder if the game would have ever even been made if not for Zuma? Looking at the path designs and gameplay variations from puzz-loop, I'd be hard pressed to say that Magnetica wasn't bringing a lot of the enhancements Zuma originated back over into the original series...

    So perhaps not long forgotten, and Mitchell certainly deserves credit for originating the game, but not a whole lot had been done with the gameplay by Mitchell (other than porting it to various platforms like gameboy and cell phones etc...) until Magnetica for the DS, which came about some 3 yrs after Zuma.
     
  2. Teeth

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    Of course he's right, and direct clones are to be frowned upon and people should always look to expand on gameplay (and improve on production IMO). The fat guy analogy doesn't work because PopCap have gotten rich from cloning, and being fat is a bad thing, not a good thing :) It's just hypocrisy. Sure PopCap can sit back now they're rich and make more innovative titles. That's great. But to turn around and say "oh, don't you clone, you debasers, pff pff", that's just rude.

    The easiest way for a startup indie to make money is to make a good decent clone, sprinkle on a few gameplay tweaks, and release it. The original ideal project shenanigans can come when there's income to support it, and that's what PopCap are doing now.

    A better analogy would be a AAA software house who started off doing licensed crap for the GBA but is now doing new-gen software turning around and saying "you indies should be making the sort of games we're making, not your pooh pooh licensed crap. ugh, you paupers make me sick, remove yourself from mine sight".

    wazoo: not sure what picture you mean.
     
  3. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    Yeah, to me it seemed to go this way:

    1. PopCap clones a game and makes money.
    2. PopCap uses that money to make original games.
    3. PopCap's games begin to be cloned.
    4. PopCap complains about clones and says they don't make money.
     
  4. joelfinch

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    I've made half a dozen PC pinball games, and not once did anybody look at them and say "Oh my god, you cloned flippers! And ramps! Hey, you didn't invent ramps!"

    But if you pop a bubble, match a colour, or swap a gem these days, you're the Cloning Devil himself. "Innovations be damned, if it matches things to other things, it's a clone!"

    Everybody please look up the word "clone". Google's right there, I'll wait. Every useful definition I can see says "an identical copy, an exact duplicate".

    So, to the people who nod sagely and pronounce clone when they compare Zuma's opening spiral with the spiral in Puzzloop, here's my fun challenge for the day; find an exact duplicate from Puzzloop for the next screen in Zuma. And the next. And the one after that. From memory, there's 22 different screens in Zuma - Puzzloop must have had a lot of hidden material.

    Personally, I think there's a strong case that the original Centipede was the first things-in-a-moving-queue-that-go-pop-when-you-shoot-them game, and the makers of Puzzloop just changed it from moving in a line to moving in a circle. Cloners.
     
  5. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    What is Kapalka referring to when he says clone, though -- does he mean exact copies, or is he referring to extremely similar games? If he means exact copies, then which games is he talking about? Maybe I just haven't seen it, but I haven't heard of anyone releasing an exact copy of someone else's game, there's always a few minor changes.
     
  6. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Excuse me if my memory isn't quite spot on but for me, the bad taste came from a casual games association document that discussed the design process of Zuma. In it there was a sequence of screenshots on how they arrived at the end game. The first two were of a completely different game, then ping! it's zuma. I find it hard for anyone to argue that Zuma wasn't directly "influenced" by Puzz Loop yet that was the aim of the article.

    As for the comments regarding it hurting the casual games industry, it contradicts all the reports that the industry is growing at an incredible rate. I'm not sure how you can seperate the clones out to say "they're harming the industry".
     
  7. wazoo

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    Nevermind...just me being a dink. :)

    (The sticky on this forum says that all posts without screenshots will be deleted...)

    Yeah it's the very definition of ironic for Popcap's Creative dude to talk like this...but he got what he wanted; creating a sh*tstorm of reaction.

    Some people still believe that any press is good press.
     
  8. Desktop Gaming

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    How dare they?

    Popcap don't seem to have any real gripe with 'knock-offs'. Half of their catalogue is either match three or those cruddy "where's waldo?" object-finding games.

    I guess its ok for them, but they just don't like anybody else doing it.
     
  9. electronicStar

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    While I agree that PopCap does make efforts to make better games and does invest in research for new gameplay, the question is wether the people at Popcap are allowed to take the moral high ground and give ethics lessons to cloners and people making derivative games and the answer is clearly no.
    And I'm sorry but "Bookworm adventures" is not really what I call "innovation". Or maybe it is in a strictly business sense ("oh look I mixed dog food A and dog food B and they love it!") but not in ludology.
     
  10. joelfinch

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    I'd agree it wasn't a total revolution, but I think your cutoff for what constitutes genuine innovation is impractically high. The Seven Original Games have already been done.

    Incidentally, my personal experience of mixing dogfood is that the dogs are fussier than you'd think. A *lot* fussier.
     
  11. soniCron

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    First of all, almost all of Popcap's catalog features original or unique gameplay. The only clear exception, which people perpetually cite, is Zuma. So, this isn't even a case of an overweight, adult onset diabetic with heart trouble...more like a guy who had some fries at dinner last week. (And they were cooked in canola oil, at that!)

    Nevertheless, the message is being lost in the scuffle.

    Before Zuma, there were no games of that sort in the PC casual arena. So bringing that mechanic into a brand new gamespace was unique...to that market. It wasn't shitting on 20 other Puzzloop clones. It wasn't riding on the success of other, nearly-identical games. It wasn't sucking profits from 12 other developers.

    What Jason is asserting is that rampant cloning in the same industry sector is something akin to incestuous breeding: it's ultimately unhealthy for everyone.

    It may be fun to poke Popcap and tease them for their hypocrisy, but that's simply an ignorant knee-jerk reaction that has not only no relevance to this discussion, but isn't even accurate. (And I won't get into the thick irony of Kenta Cho-loving TIGSource (I♥U, Derek!) perpetuating such ignorant remarks. ;) If they can remark from their insular corner of the web, why can't Popcap?)
     
    #31 soniCron, Jun 27, 2007
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2007
  12. luggage

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    Except evidence points to the consumer loving all this incestuous breeding. I do get your point though - it's ok to clone so long as you take it from what you perceive as a different market and do it first.
     
  13. Sakura Games

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    Woahhh... it's worse than Anthrax! now I understand why you never finished the Bejeweled clone you were making in flash! I would have been too scared to be contaminated too.
     
  14. Teeth

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    lol, I usually get that joke too :eek:

    Maybe in a few months ;) it'll be freeware though so maybe not really indygamer.com sauce.

    edit: lol @ sakura
     
  15. soniCron

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    You lot...

    I do not take a position on the (potentially negative) effects of cloning in my last post; just identified and focused Jason's message.

    (And, no, my "Bejeweled clone" is still in development, though it's treading further and further from that every day. :p )
     
  16. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    Usually people who introduce something to a new market have to arrange for some sort of license. If they wanted to port the game to a new market, I think they should have contacted the owner of the game and asked to do a port, or, alternatively, changed the game enough that it was a different game, rather than doing an unofficial port without telling them.
     
  17. svero

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    Actually the diabetic example was just to illustrate that the message was being lost due to the messenger... not to draw a comparison between that example and popcap per se...
     
  18. Applewood

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    I think this is all a question of degrees.

    We're working on a pool game as a background task because we want to. It's not a direct clone of any one game but obviously isn't original either. Likewise, there have been plenty of pinball games too so you're not doing anything original either in terms of radical new gameplay ideas.

    What we're both doing is bringing an original slant to an established genre, and we can get away with that because it's probably true and therefore our products have (some) value amongst our peers. (Hopefully).

    But. If someone released a pinball game (or a pool game) every few days, for months on end, most of which being shite, we'd certainly start taking flack for being copycats.

    Pop-a-match-bubble-3 has been announced so often on here that I'm sure even people who like those games don't check out the screenies anymore. I know I don't and I was a big bejewelled fan once.

    I've got no problem with popcap claiming (not that they actually have) that Zuma is an original work. It's different enough from it's progenitor that if 43,000 others hadn't come along, no-one would've batted an eyelid.
     
  19. Chris Evans

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    Regarding what Jason of Popcap actually said...

    Lambasting other developers may make for some good headlines, but it won't make an ounce of difference. The criticisms from a big filthy rich casual game developer is not going to stop a bunch of poor/part-time small startup developers from making their match-3 clone or stop small/medium-sized Eastern European studios from churning Diner Dash and MCF clones.

    If Popcap really wanted something to be done about this issue, they would put some public (and in private) pressure on portals to stop accepting the endless horde of clones. Everybody has two eyes and can see what's in the portal's top ten. When it's filled with a bunch of clones (many of them blatant rip-offs) of course many developers will gravitate toward making clones and will continue to do so until portals no longer accept them.

    Of course Popcap won't do this because they don't want to ruffle the feathers of their distribution partners. It's a lot easier to lambaste a bunch of small insignificant developers than to stand up to the people who actually profit the most from the practice of blatant cloning, the portals.

    And of course the portals have no real incentive to curb cloning because it keeps their release schedule full and the games (even if they're clones) continue to sell like hot cakes. The way they see it who cares if a vocal minority of small insignificant developers complain (half of which still submit their games to portals anyway)? There's a huge majority of developers who will provide clones and derivatives for low low royalty shares. As long as the portals keep the big players like Popcap happy with good royalty shares and special promotions, the big developers won't make any real waves while the small guys scrap for crumbs.

    I'd like to see more original games from developers (I think we all would). But original games take time, they're harder to get right, and are more risky. What's the incentive for small developers to do this when the portals standard royalty percentage they offer is so low? What's the incentive for small developers when they see such little experimentation on the portal's release list? What's the incentive when what small developers perceive as low-risk/low investment clones top the portal charts and get the most promotion? What's the incentive for small developers when the average shelf life of a game on a portal is getting shorter and shorter? What's the incentive for small developers when their games will be subject to steep discounts and subscription deals after the first month?

    Is there any wonder why originality isn't prevalent in this environment? It's a shame Popcap chose to ignore almost all the above issues and instead focused solely on accusing small developers of being hacks and rip-off artists.
     
  20. Dan MacDonald

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    There's an assumption in this thread that I keep reading that is simply false. Zuma did not make Popcap, bejeweled did, and to this day still accounts for more revenue then any one of their other games. (based on what you can read on the web)

    When Popcap made Zuma it's not like puzzloop was selling like crazy and they were trying to move into a lucrative sub segment of the casual market. That's actually what everyone after zuma did. Cloners saw how well zuma was doing and tried to capitolize on it. This is the definition clone that Jason is talking about. The "Mee too" mentality that many casual game developers have where they spot what's currently selling and then go attempt to do exactly the same thing.

    The novelty of Zuma wasn't so much the games design (which is admittedly lifted from puzzloop) as it is taking it, polishing it and presenting it to the casual games market. Mitchell could have done the same thing, but they didn't. The clones (as referred to by Jason) were actually all the games that came after Zuma and played almost exactly like it with different graphics. Because casual games are so simple and the production costs are low, it's really easy for followers to enter a market once a "first mover" has identified it as a profitable segment. Popcap did this with Zuma, it identified a profitable sub segment and capitalized on it, everyone afterwards was just banking on their effort. Parasites, in essence.
     
    #40 Dan MacDonald, Jun 27, 2007
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2007

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