Ubisoft made an interesting move today with the announcement that it would be purchasing mobile developer Ketchapp, which also publishes games like 2048, Hoverboard Rider, and Skyward.
What makes this situation somewhat unusual is that Ketchapp has a notorious reputation of allegedly cloning games by other developers to produce its biggest hits. Its infamy grew when it released a clone of 2048 (which was created by a student named Gabriele Cirull who released its code as open source) as a free-to-play game in 2014, which several journalists were able to determine had a close link to Asher Vollmer’s premium iOS game Threes.
In a press release, Ubisoft doesn’t make mention of Ketchapp’s somewhat sticky reputation, but does praise the company’s average of 23 million downloads per month. “This acquisition gives Ubisoft one of the world’s leading mobile game publishers and reinforces our advertising capabilities in mobile gaming,” says Ubisoft mobile exec Jean-Michel Detoc.
Vollmer’s talked publicly about his struggles related to 2048’s similarity to Threes, but he does also credit the alleged clone of helping drive revenue for a free-to-play version of Threes that was released in 2015. In response to today’s news, Vollmer actually tweeted some nuanced thoughts about the need for tiny mobile games in the marketplace.
I have mixed feelings about this, obviously.— Asher Vollmer (@AsherVo) September 27, 2016
But Ketchapp releases a tiny mobile game a week, which fills a Very Real Need people have.