Loot Drop: We had a game cloned before a line of code had been written

Loot Drop COO and game designer Brenda Garno Brathwaite calls cloning “disgusting,” revealing her company’s first-hand experience with the practice.

“We had a meeting with a publisher and a game designer discussed an idea for a game,” Brathwaite said during the Trends in Social Gaming panel at Inside Social Apps conference. “The publisher came back next week and said they’d be making the game and they might need us to consult on it. That game had been cloned before a line of code had even been written.”

Brathwaite spoke frankly, calling out the social games industry for its “fast-follow” mentality. ”In the traditional space, a great game would come out and you would say ‘how can we make a game that good and improve on that?’ What we have now is ‘how can we change the narrative and make the same game?’ That’s like putting out the Peaches of Wrath rather than the Grapes of Wrath. In any other medium it would be considered a tremendous fail and I think it’s because the space is about monetization and not about creativity,” she said.

The issue of cloning in the social and mobile games space has come up numerous times in the news recently. Triple Town developer Spry Fox is suing 6waves Lolapps over the similarities between its game and 6waves’ Yeti Town, and San Diego-based NimbleBit criticized Zynga for its upcoming game Dream Heights, pointing out numerous similarities between the two titles. During EA’s third quarter earnings call the company was reluctant to reveal details about its upcoming slate of social games, citing the need to protect its intellectual property.

You can read our recap of the Trends in Social Gaming panel here.

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5 Responses to “Loot Drop: We had a game cloned before a line of code had been written”

  1. Bart says:

    Totally agree with Brenda (although I would have waited till i had a prototype to approach publishers) but it’s a phenomena that will never go away unfortunately. My advice to potential victims to this simply focus on making a better game.

    However as far as I am concerned with talking to publishers that claim that they respect IP, to only to do the opposite is just very bad business practice and their reputations should be made aware. (Thumbs up to ISG).

    My advice to any developer, indie or start is to never talk to any bay-area based social game publishers period. Develop it and launch it yourself. There are plenty of inexpensive ways to grow your title besides facebook such as New Grounds, Mochi, Kongregate and even direct download feeds such as Steam.

    This cloning behavior is just hurting everyone and no game company for the exception of Kixeye (formally casual collective) and a very few others, is innocent to this. The consequence for this behavior is only producing a stale market which in the end hurts everyone.

    Its sad to think that well-funded entities with talented personal are spent to make clone after clone of Tetris, Sim City and even Bingo.

    What a shame.

  2. User says:

    We have had the same experience with an awful Bay Area publisher that specializes in casino games. Not only did they steal several of our ideas, but they outright stole graphics from our games to use in their own. They are an extremely sleazy company and hopefully others will speak out as well.

  3. Dipso Facto says:

    She’s knocking fast follows after fast following Frontierville with Ravenwood Fair? TOTAL HYPOCRITE.

  4. Dani says:

    That’s what NDAs are for…

  5. AJ Glasser says:

    It’s standard for most devs to get potential pubs to sign NDAs, but we’ve heard from several devs that they’re ineffective against cloning. Especially if the developer is new or small.

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