When a new game is released on PC or console there are bound to be some imitators, it just comes with the territory. A rival company takes note on what makes a game so popular, and decides to have a crack at it too. But because of the nature of console games, and their lengthy development processes, the end result is usually a similar genre but a new game completely. There’s too much risk making a blatant copy of the latest AAA title. Why pay 60-100 dollars for a game that is just a copy of the last 60-100 dollar game you bought?
But Mobile games? That’s another story.
We’re playing games that were made within a month, a week, sometimes even a day. They’re simple games designed to be played for quick bouts at the bus stop, on the train, waiting for a doctor, standing in line at the coffee shop. They’re coffee break games, for the most part anyway.
And since quick to play usually means quick to make, you’re going to see imitators everywhere. As soon as a single game becomes popular, or in todays case, “viral”, the App Store and Google Play become inundated with not only similar games, but downright carbon copies with different assets.
The most prominent example being Flappy Bird, as the original creator pulled the game, leaving a void at the peak moment in the games viral popularity. Given the simple nature of the game and the quick turnaround with Google Play, we began to see copies within a day of the viral explosion that Flappy Bird experienced. These clones, which run anywhere between free and a couple of dollars, are so cheap to make and cheap to buy, that it actually makes sense in the mobile market. Why waste time making an original game when you can ride the coattails of a popular one?
This is a mentality that needs to stop, but won’t. Not in todays mobile game market. There are so many games being churned out that it doesn’t allow for really unique and actually fun games to shine. Their luminosity is muted by the grey seas of by-the-numbers clones.
What can we do as mobile developers to stop this?
Nothing, not to stop it anyway. It has become so bad that only a radical shift in the nature of the purchasing power of the consumer needs to be the driving force behind change. The only thing we can do is attempt to influence this change with unique and exciting titles, but that’s a risky and costly venture.
Until any change happens, we’ll have to ride out a storm that looks like this, have you played Clash of Clans? Then you may find every single one of these games a little too familiar.