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Gamasutra's latest feature takes a look at just what response developers can -- and should -- have when their successful mobile and social games are cloned.

January 5, 2012

2 Min Read

Author: by Staff

Gamasutra's latest feature takes a look at just what response developers can -- and should -- have when their successful mobile and social games are cloned. You've developed a game and released it to the world. It's a successful game which is starting to pick up steam. But suddenly, a copy of the game launches on your target platform, drawing players in, and diverting your potential audience. What do you do? "I have this conversation with my clients literally everyday: what is the most worthwhile use of your time and money?" says Greg Boyd, an IP lawyer for Davis & Gilbert LLP. "You could spend your energy and resources on a lawsuit overseas or just focus on developing something even better." Market forces shape the pace of innovation in the industry, Boyd tells Gamasutra, and the best defense is to adapt: "A great example is what we were seeing with black market virtual property right at the turn of the century. It was a tremendous problem right at the beginning, then everyone realized what we were seeing was actually a market force. If game designers could incorporate that force into their work from the beginning, and tap into the market themselves, it would be much less of an issue. Now the free-to-play model with virtual item sales is the norm. Even downloadable content is a version of downloadable property that we tap into, that we didn't used to tap into." Pocket Gems, developers of the successful Tap Zoo for iOS and Android, takes this tactic to heart, says Ben Liu, the company's COO. "Emotionally it bothers us [when we see copycats] but we feel like our best defense is to continue to be innovative. You have to think about where some of the imitators are coming from. When we launch a game we have several months of lead time, so when an imitator launches they're often several months behind already. Our product will already have evolved from where their product is starting from." Gamasutra's latest feature, What the Copycat Saw: Creative Theft in Mobile and Social Games, dives deeper into this issue, with additional comments from Boyd and Liu, as well as Kixeye CEO Will Harbin and Booyah Games' Brian Cho. It's live now on Gamasutra.

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