It’s an unfortunate reality that a risk of being an independent mobile game developer is the chance of having your game copied and re-released by someone else. We’ve seen small studios with great games go through a ton of trouble to secure their own intellectual property. Vlambeer, for example, has been burnt twice already; once with Ridiculous Fishing, and again more recently with Luftrausers. Often devs look to the community to call out the cloners and help take back their games.
The most recent example is an Australian developer called MiniMega. Last year they released a game called SLAP! on both the App Store and Google Play, and later SLAP! HD for the iPad. It’s a two-player touchscreen interpretation of the schoolyard game of “red hands”, also known as “s#%& Timmy, that didn’t count, I wasn’t ready! FFF- not so hard! MOM!”
|Top: MiniMega’s original SLAP!
Bottom: The clone that appeared on the Google Play store
Back in March, someone at MiniMega saw that a game called SLAP! HD was released on the Google Play store by a developer called Tomkid Game. It was the same game with almost identical graphical assets, many of which appeared to be lifted directly from the original. The sneaky twist comes when you realize that MiniMega’s HD variant of SLAP! only exists for iOS, leaving the name available on Google Play, and who wouldn’t buy the HD version over the original, right?
MiniMega decided not to act until two weeks ago when they realized that the clone was gaining some popularity. After contacting the creator of the clone, they received an apology and were assured that it would be taken off Google Play. Nine days later, after another email and a DMCA filing, the shady reproduction was still available for purchase. That’s when MiniMega brought their predicament to Reddit’s /r/indiegaming and /r/gaming sections. The support from the community was overwhelming. There was a rally to purchase SLAP! on both mobile storefronts, and their post was pushed to the front page of the site. The story was quickly picked up by InidieStatik and Kotaku. Yesterday, Tomkid Game removed their game from the Google Play store, and sent an apologetic email to MiniMega offering up their source code and their services as a developer.
It’s great to know that an independent developer can approach their community with a problem like this and receive an astounding amount of support. The creative director for MiniMega, Ben Huxter, said that he was “massively grateful” for the help they received. Maybe the future of online games marketplaces will include a method for consumers to easily report instances of IP infringement.
Original post from /r/gaming: http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/1jdnzu/so_someone_stole_the_artwork_from_my_game_and/