Greg Wohlwend and Asher Vollmer jumped into the spot this year with their game Threes! It is an amazing puzzle game, impressively well designed with an original gameplay. It took the game just one day to become #1 on iTunes. However, the games success was eclipsed by clones.
In an interview published by Pocket Gamer.biz, Wohlwend attacks developers who flooded iTunes and Google Play with game clones: “The people at the bottom of the barrel, the parasites, they’re winning by a lot. Game designers need money, years worth of living expenses, to make games so it basically means we can spend less time on our games. It is the way it is.”
Threes! had a really successful launch, but something happened after two weeks in the Top 10. A wild clone appeared! Veewo Studio launched 1024 a game based on Threes! gameplay. It is exxactly not the same game, but it is clearly inspired by Wohlwend and Vollmer creation.
Some days after 1024 release, Italian developer Gabriele Cirullio launched 2048, based on Veewo game. Cirullio distributed the source code of the game under a MIT License, which allows other people to use, copy or modify the code and then sell copies of the new creation. 2048 was shared in the aim of being helpful for anyone who wants to learn how to code, but it opens the door for clones.
“Gabriele didn’t hurt us I don’t think and even if he did, we don’t feel ill will toward him or that there was any malice,” says Wohlwend in the interview. “But those that took advantage of his open source and are profiting heavily from it… that sucks not only for us, but for game designers everywhere.
Wohlwend and Vollmer published a huge post that covers the making of Threes! It is a summary of all the emails they sent to each other. They want to show people how difficult is building an original game like Threes!
Wohlwend think that “this stuff and other dramatic things happen to developers maybe more than we talk about” and he is probably right. Game cloning is kind of flattering, but it can really hurt developers.
Of course, every game designer take ideas from games when he or she starts a new game, but it is the way humanity evolves. You take the things you like, add new ones from your own or maybe you just mix ideas from different games in order to create a new experience, and that’s fair. It is also fair that students clone a game they love. What it is not so fair is just copying a game, but there is one way to fight against clones: be the best game among all of them.