ThinkFun: Beat App Store Clones With Quality

ThinkFun has had its games cloned on the iOS App Store, but has had little success getting the cloners to stop -- and instead aims to beat them with quality, company founder Bill Ritchie
January 21, 2011
Puzzle company ThinkFun has had its games cloned on the iOS App Store, but has had little success getting the cloners to stop -- and instead aims to beat them with quality. This comes as part of a new feature interview published today on Gamasutra, with the company's co-founder, Bill Ritchie. ThinkFun itself began over 25 years ago as a publisher of physical puzzles, but has found a niche on the iOS platforms thanks to its ability to go direct to consumer with digital products. However, as its games are conversions of its existing properties, there have been issues with clones. By the time the company was able to get its famous car-juggling physical puzzle title Rush Hour released as a game on the App Store, says Ritchie, "there were a number of Rush Hour knockoffs already on the App store." "Apple had created a market where games were worth something to the developer, so there was a lot of effort and energy by different people to create different knockoff versions," he says. "We did go after [clone] Unblock Me. The developer agreed to take their game off the App Store and did so for three weeks, but then put it back on. The problem we face is that it is an offshore company who developed that game, which makes it much more difficult to pursue legal action." So what's the solution? "However, we also recognize that our job needs to be to develop digital versions of our games to be the best that they can be, better than the knockoffs, and that we need to do a better job of projecting our brand and telling our story. We will succeed not by stamping out the cheats and knock off artists, but rather by convincing people that they want to go with authentic ThinkFun games." To find out more about ThinkFun and Ritchie's ups and downs in the digital space and thoughts on the future, including using puzzles for education, read Gamasutra's latest feature interview.

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