PopCap attacks "copycat" designs

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

  1. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    The problem with Manifesto is that it's pretty new -- less than a year old -- whereas the big portals are often 5 to 10 years old. It takes awhile for a site to build up traffic. I suspect that if you look at where those portals were after 8 months of operation and compare them to Manifesto now, it'd look far more positive. Compare Reflexive and Manifesto -- Manifesto's chart looks a lot like Reflexive's during its early days, no?

    Another issue is that Manifesto intentionally avoids stocking casual games, so it's a different -- and smaller -- market sector; there's some overlap, but there are (currently, at least) fewer people looking for independent games in the core gaming genres than there are people looking for casual games.

    But even in the casual sphere, innovation is important. Why has no Bejeweled clone sold as well as Bejeweled? I suspect that a portal that had 100 different casual games with no clones would do better, long-term, than a portal that focused on 1000 different variations of 10 casual games.

    The problem is is that there is no portal (that I know of) that both explicitly and in practice rejects clones and focuses on casual games. Although not a portal, the closest is, ironically, PopCap.
     
    #81 RinkuHero, Jun 29, 2007
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2007
  2. soniCron

    Indie Author

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    How do you guys feel about sequels?
     
  3. RinkuHero

    RinkuHero New Member

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    They can be good or bad. I've enjoyed some, I haven't enjoyed others.

    They're different from clones though, if that's what you mean, since using and building upon your own ideas is different from using someone else's, and because most sequels tend to add more to the previous game than clones tend to (cf. Puzz Loop 2 vs Puzz Loop 1 and Zuma).
     
  4. Ola

    Ola
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    As svero said earlier, I think developers knows pretty well when they are copying something. Even though it's not easy (or even possible) to define a general instructionbook what's a clone or not. One things is for sure, the more you copy from the same source, the more likely you make someone upset or feel bad about it yourself one day, and the more likely you end up in court.


    If someone reskinned a Ford car, copied the engine and electronics, everything under the body. Then just made a new body, new color and design. What do you think would happen? Even though people (non engineers) would think it was a totally new and fresh looking car, as soon as Ford found out, their lawyers would most likely make the copycat car disappear from the market faster then quick.

    I'm pretty sure car manufacturers are a lot controlled what the can do or not, probably with thousands of patents to watch out for etc. The car industry, or any other industry, is not the public domain were you can do anything.

    The casual game industry have so far been surprisingly forgiving for reskins and clones. That may change if more and more developers try to make quick cash with shameless reskins.

    As someone pointed out. Parasites hold back the evolution, and we got more and more of them. Parasites can copy a product a lot faster then it originally took to invent it. If there is too many or agressive parasites they will eat up the profit from the original inventor that had a lot higher development costs. Parasites makes it less interesting to invent, or to be first with something. That's why we have patent and copyright laws, to not slow down or kill the interest to invent.
     
  5. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    You're still missing the point - even if you can tell which game is a clone of which, who makes the decision on what to do about it? You might think Zuma is a clone of PuzzLoop, someone else might think it isn't. Who's correct? Should Zuma be 'allowed' onto portals? It's all a matter of an individual person's opinion on how much a clone something is. If you can't nail down what a clone is how do you expect the law to regulate it?
    Again, you've missed the point. (There were other inventors of the automobile before Ford but let's use Ford as an example - he certainly made them mass market). Do you think the car manufacturer that came along after Ford invented his own car and engine completely seperately? Or do you think he stood on the shoulders of giants?

    If you take the idea of a car, it's somewhere to sit, an engine to make the wheels turn, something to control the steering and something to make it go faster and slow down. What you're arguing is that the idea of a car should be protectable and nobody else could come up with their own without changing something significant (and there's no real way of deciding what is significant enough).

    This would of course be an absurd situation which is why ideas aren't protected as such by law. It's why to get an idea protected you need to actually make it into something concrete which is then protectable by patents\trademarks\copyright. Nobody could then copy your implementation of that idea. It's a very important difference.

    We have patent and copyright laws to protect those who manifest their ideas into something solid first. The fact that ideas aren't protected actually encourages innovation. Unfortunately it also encourages cloning.
     
  6. DangerCode

    Original Member

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    I have a couple of simple comments

    1. If you're afraid your game is going to be cloned, than don't make it easily 'cloneable'. Even games built upon the simplest of designs can offer a level of polish that is difficult to immitate.
    2. The majority of indie games out there are cheap knock-offs? Great. What a wonderful opportunity for the rest of us.
     
  7. cliffski

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    Is it though?
    I see a lot of clones for sale. that doesn't mean they make any money. How often are cloned games (not sequels, but clones by a different company) the #1 game at a site?
    People clone games thinking they will make money. Other people see the clones and assume that's how they make money, so they make clones. repeat till fade.

    I don't care if 99% of the developers are making clones, that doesn't mean 99% of the money is in cloning. remember, the vast majority of people here developing games are making very little money from it.
    I like money. If I thought I could make $50,000 from a match 3 game, I'd do one right away, because I can make one much quicker than the style of games I make. In reality, I know I'll make more money from a Positech Style game, so that's what I do.
     
  8. Ola

    Ola
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    Why do you keep saying I'm missing the point all the time. When did I become the one that should put down on paper what defines a clone? As I said, the more you copy from the same source, the more likely you end up in court. That means, it's lawyers and the court that decide what is a clone or not in the end. Hopefully, we can get a better understanding and respect for game designs in the casual scene itselfs, so that it doesn't have to go that far.

    We can't put on paper what a general clone is. Just like Fords engineers can't easily tell someone were the line of copying to much from their cars is. A thing we can define though, as already mentioned. Is that the ones that reskin and copy the Ford car (not just made a general car) most certainly knew what they did.

    What we are trying to have here, is a discussion were different people share their thoughs on the subject. Neither me or someone else have got the task to do the impossible and write a handbook of what a court or the inventor would decide is a clone or not.


    You keep painting everything black and white. I've never said you are going to copyright the car, or the videogame, so that only one company can do cars or videogames. I've only said that the more you copy from the same source, the more likely it's plagiarism, and you will upset someone, and end up in court. I can't see how you got that into, that only one company would be able to manufactur cars or videogames?

    We are talking about designs, not the invention of the first videogame or car, or what generally defines such thing.
     
  9. Ola

    Ola
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    Even though it's an interesting thought. A lot of things _is_ easily cloneable either you want it or not. Say when Edison came up with the lightbulb, or someone comes up with a new medicine. If it wasn't for laws. Anyone could clone it in a fraction of the costs it took to invent it, and then say sell for half the price, because they haven't years of research to be paid back. It was getting there at first, that was the hard and time consuming part.

    Doing great game designs, isn't something easily achived. And having to think of how to protect your work from parasites makes it even harder, and more time consuming.

    Yes it is. Unless, after years of trying to find the next original hit game, with 3-4 original games that flopped and you finally get your hit. It will be cloned in a couple of months, as soon as the parasites see it appear on a top ten.

    Parasites doesn't clone your flops. It can take several original games that flop before you finally hit the nail on the head. Those flops won't bring in any money for you. So when you finally get a hit, it should pay for all the flops that took you there, as well as feed all the parasites. The parasite makes it a lot harder for a semi-hit (or even a hit) to break even. The parasites will eat big part of your profit, that were intended for reseach to find the next original hit game, that the parasites will eat as well.

    To many parasites, and the market will stop develop, or move extremely slow. Because a few inventors or game designers can't pay the bills for hundreds of parasites.
     
  10. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Cliffski - that's a good point. Rather than the big players making noises saying "clones are just doing it to make a fast buck", if they switched to "we don't know why they bother as they rarely make any cash" that would put more off.

    Ola - Sorry if it appears I'm picking on you. This thread has people saying "Clones are bad! They should be stopped!" but when you actually sit down and think about how to stop it you run into exactly the sorts of problems that people had enough foresight to avoid when drafting the intellectual property laws.

    The law does not, in general, protect ideas, I've tried to explain why. A game design is just an idea. What people do with those ideas is protected but nothing stops someone else using that same idea and implementing it in their own way. So long as they don't breach your copyright (which you get on artistic and literacy works) they are allowed to do so - it is how we innovate.

    I don't get why we would want to take that away just because we don't like games that aren't very good at innovating.
     
  11. spellcaster

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    Take basic game mechanic A, create a new game with new music and sounds using this mechanic A.

    Let's see, if I do this for a FPS it's ok and not a clone. It'll be just yet another FPS.
    If I do it for a jump and run, it'll be ok, it's just another jump and run.
    If I do it with a beat'em up - no problem.
    A sidescrolling shooter? No problem.
    A sidescrolling brawler? No problem.
    A rogue-like? No problem.
    A mini game collection? No problem.
    A RTS or round based strategic game? No problem.

    I think what you guys are actually complaining about is the point in time these games are created. Company B creates a game (which might be "clone" or "variation" of an even older game) sells it and Companies C and D release a similar game shortly after. Why are C and D worse than B?

    Zuma cloned Ballistic, Ballistic/PuzzLoop itself is heavily inspired by Puzzle Bobble. "Find the object" games have been big in children puzzle books 30yrs ago. All the tapper variants.. geez... in comparison a mouse based Qix variant with a bit of Pang is actually creative.

    So, I doubt it's creativity theft that's the problem here. It's the "jumping on the wagon" thing. And that's something I don't understand. The market seems to be big enough, the game idea is normally ancient anyway... so why bother?

    Take an old arcade game, clone it, change the difficulty to "easy" and contract enough art to add polish. Done. Or, if you want to go really over the top: Take more than one old game combine the elements, and then contract the art.

    I don't see why this would bring anyone into a position to lecture about originality.
     
  12. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Let's take the lightbulb example. If you read up on the history you'll see exactly why ideas shouldn't be protected.

    Nobody protected the idea of a bulb that produces light - Humphrey Davy was the first to show it in action. A lot of people were trying to get a practical solution. Edison (allegedly) came up with one and patented it. Nobody could produce a bulb of light in the same way that Edison did but it didn't stop people doing their own versions of a bulb of light. And if they hadn't we wouldn't have lightbulbs that work so well today.

    A game design equates to the idea of having a bulb emitting light. An actual game is the same as having an actual physical working lightbulb.
     
  13. Ola

    Ola
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    I'm pretty sure it's not that simple, even though some people tried to claim it in this forum. In what way isn't game design artistcal work, or engineering? Just because it's a complicated mather to put down on paper in a general discussion board?

    What about the lawsuits we've seen in the videogame industry during the years? Were Hasbro some years ago sued anyone (even small developers) that did something close to Frogger or Asteroids.

    What about Giana Sisters that was a pure reskin of Super Mario Bros and Nintendo got removed from the market.

    What about Atari sueing Phillips, when Phillips did a pacman clone called Munchkins. That in it's turn made Phillips whole videogame divison, go bust and burried.

    Lately, we even heard of the first twists in the casual game industry.

    It is illegal to steal someone else game design to close, it's just a bit more complicated process to explain in detail then with source code and art.
     
  14. Ola

    Ola
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    Says who? And what game design, all game designs in the world?
    As said many times already, a game design is something that could be copied all the way from 0-100% and it's a mather from case to case.

    Just like a lightbulb could be copied from 0-100%
    Those who made their own lightbulbs had to make sure the weren't to close to Edisons, because if they were, there would be a twist, and end up in court. That is what I'm saying.

    What you seem to be saying it there is single case to apply on every lightbulb or videogame in the world. How is that possible?
     
  15. Ola

    Ola
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    What about the small companies and game designers, that worked 5 years to finally hit the nail on the head, to then just get their work copied in 3-6 months?

    What if those 3-6 exclusive months isn't enough to make back all the research and development cost?
     
  16. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    In general it is.

    Clearly if you did a clone of Chuzzle, left it as big furry characters and called it Buzzle you'd be infringing. The public could get confused as to which game they were buying. This is what Hasbro were claiming - that and trademark infringment. It is also what stopped Munchkins from being on sale and why Crazy Chase (the sequel) was allowed to be on sale. There's a difference between trying to imitate another product and using a similar game mechanic.

    As for Great Giana Sisters, it never made it in front of a court of law so I'm not sure what that proves. Did Rainbow Arts settle out of court? Were they told by their own lawyer they didn't have a leg to stand on? Could they afford to take it to court? Did they just not want the hassle? Could be any reason - it's certainly not a legal case you can quote saying "game designs are protected".

    If game designs are protected then why aren't there more law suits involving them? Do you think major corporations just don't realise they could protect their games this way? Do you not think Popcap would be suing every Bejewelled clone seeing as they very outspoken in that clones are bad?

    Here's a quote from the UK Copyright Service (I'd hazard a guess that most countries are similar)
    And from the US copyright office...
    You're saying that those passages are incorrect?
     
    #96 luggage, Jun 30, 2007
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2007
  17. DangerCode

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    Do you have any examples of hit games that should have made it big but were brought down by teh cloners?
     
  18. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Sorry but you are still missing the point. Edison's bulb was protected by a patent (as it's classed as an invention). That is why nobody could copy Edison's bulb specifically. But nothing stopped other people coming up with their own bulbs of emitting light. The reason being you cannot protect an idea.

    A game design is just an idea. Nothing more. Once it has been implementated then that implementation is protected, not the idea.
     
  19. cliffski

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  20. Ola

    Ola
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    So what are you saying? That game design isn't part of the final product? Something you only have on your table? An idea that is only in the head of the designer?

    Game design is very much part of the final product, and what defines the product. And a product shouldn't be copied to close.

    So yes, game design is protected. Even if it originally only was an idea in someones head, the day it turns out a product on the market. It is protected.
     

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