Game Of Clones: Threes Developer Slams ‘Rip-Off’ Copycats

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It’s become a begrudgingly accepted part of the App Store that the moment a popular game appears, the clones roll in with miniscule differences.

While most of us laughed at some of the ridiculous variations that emerged for a popular game like Flappy Bird (Flappy Beard Hipster Quest anyone?), it’s not quite so funny if you’re the developer of the original game in question.

With that in mind, the creators of hit puzzle game Threes recently took to their blog to complain about the growing number of ripoffs that have emerged in the App Store as of late:

With Greg being part of the Ridiculous Fishing team, we’re not shy about calling a clone a clone, and believe us, there’s no shortage of straight-up clones out there, especially on Android. But it’s the not-really-clone sort of games, the rip-offs, that have popped up that have our feelings puzzled.

First, it started on iOS with a game called 1024 released 21 days after Threes (February 27th). It’s different, but not. The sliding is there, the doubling of cards, the merging, even the art is extremely similar. Next, came 2048 about ten days later. A game system identical to 1024 with one tweak, it removed the stones. Since, the game has grown in popularity after a posting on Hacker News on March 10th.

The blog post is also interesting because, in order to prove the developers point about how much work it takes to create an original game, they include their email log for the development process. If you’re a fan of Threes — or an aspiring game developer — it’s fascinating to read what it took to turn a neat idea into a finished product.

And hopefully if enough developers speak out about clone games it might prompt Apple to tighten up its app approval process, too.

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About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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