Sometimes you encounter bit shitty situation where:
Well, there’s few different ways to handle this:
- You can wee on their tent, and make superior PR move that gets picked everywhere around the net. (Recommended)
- You can whine how there’s evil corporations and that your stuff shouldn’t be copied.
- You can concentrate on building success that doesn’t depend on stuff that can be cloned. Match-3 games can be cloned. Tower sim can be cloned. RPGs with deep storyline is harder to clone.
- You can make shitty game that doesn’t sell anything. These are rarely cloned too.
- You can ignore em. (Pretty good plan)
- You can think what’s important, why you are making games. Profit? Passion?
- You can make gross zombie games. Big studios rarely clone those. (Hah!)
Now, regarding the “game mechanics can be cloned”. I think this is pretty good thing. Sure, ripping off somebody’s game mechanics and then cloning pretty much the whole game with different graphics is bit shitty move… but that’s how it needs to be.
Businesswise, it’s pretty profitable to be second in the market. Clone hit games, and make some changes. But that’s something hundred zillion other corporations are doing. Zynga isn’t only one cloning their way to success. If cloning was the way to go, then how come there aren’t as successful other cloners?
And this also makes one really ponder why you are making games? Are you making games that you can profit? Or are you making games mechanics & games… that are spread all over the world? Doesn’t it make one happy that by creating something cool that everybody wants to clone… something cool that others can benefit from? Isn’t that a pretty darn sweet thing?
Or, is it so that you were doing this stuff for profit? In that case, jump to one of those clone factories and see how happy things are there.
Or do you just “want fair fight”? Well, time to wake up. This is a really open market world where best offering (not necessarily best product) wins the profits. If you do game that can be cloned by a big studio, then you knew what you were against when you first started. Or did you really think that after you make your smash hit, nobody would be interested in getting the money too?
“But this kills innovation”
Tough luck. And yes, for some genres at least. At one point Match-3 games were selling like pancakes. They were hot stuff (not sure how they do nowadays). Now, is the innovation in match-3 games killed? I suppose. There’s every now and then one new different match-3 game but I feel the market is pretty saturated.
So, if you do some popular gaming thing that can be cloned, of course you can except that there won’t be innovation.
We can cry and bite our legs off, but that doesn’t change anything. If we are worried about cloning, then we should do stuff that’s hard to clone.
We know that there’s cloners waiting for the next hit game. That’s perfectly fine. I mean, creating a clone isn’t going to guarantee success. It’s risky. Not all cloners are profitable. It takes heaps of effort too, and is not “easy way” to go.
There’s people doing games for passion, and not getting money. That’s perfectly fine too. Whining about “but rules should favor me as [insert random reason here]” is not going to cut it. If you don’t like the rules, you can go play somewhere else.
So… who’s evil?
I think it’s quite natural to think that Zynga is “evil” or “doing wrong” when they clone a game. They are a company who want to make profit. They have business strategy that is targeted to maximizing profit. They might steal an idea or two, but so does everybody else. They might clone stuff they can clone, but so is everybody else. Zynga is just doing things better than many other corporations.
I’m not saying Zynga is less evil than me (slightly richer though). They simply seem to have different values from me. I try steal every game idea I can, but I try add something unique, something of my own in the creation. I want to do something I like doing, and something I like to experience. If somebody was to clone that stuff and make profits, that’s pretty cool. Next time they need ideas, they know where to find me.
I feel that the chaps at nimblebit chose the right way to deal with Zynga’s copy & “we wanna buy you” offer. They turned this into a PR thing which favors them. Zynga can clone the game, but they cannot clone the fact that nimblebit has the “small good guys against big evil corporation” edge that can make an interesting story. Nimblebit managed to create a cool story out of the situation, and I’m pretty sure they benefit from this.
That’s the name of the game.
P.S. And if Zynga is successful, do you really think that other big players won’t notice it and challenge them? This zoo is filled with predators who are ready to attack each other as well.