There’s been a Ridiculous Fishing/Ninja Fishing cloning fiascos.
To players there’s no concept of cloning. Everyone outside of the industry does not hear the cries for the blood of those that copied the latest popular indie flash game. All they see is a very fun game with good mechanics. And they buy it. And then they tell their friends. And then it hits top of the list on the app store. It’s not a fun reality, but it is reality. I think the indie community, and let’s face it the gaming community as a whole, gets a little wrapped up and fails to see the big picture: most people do not know the news that flies around day to day in the industry. Nor do they care. All they want is a game to play when they have some free time. The second reality is that there will always be cloners. We need to stop thinking that we can publicly shame cloners into stopping. As long as there’s money to be made off of what other’s have previously done then there will be people to take advantage of it.
What can we as indie devs do then with this reality? All we can do at this point is everything in our power to make sure our games are the first ones players see. There’s a lot to be said about being first to market. Players won’t be convinced into playing a new game with the same mechanics without being alienated by the current game they’re playing (bugs, crashes, general unplayability… which doesn’t happen with most of the clones I’ve seen). Don’t spend a year porting your game to iOS if it was a flash hit. It’s not worth it. Reap the money off of releasing it right now and then take a year to polish your next game with those funds. Otherwise, you’re just cheating yourself out of money and allowing for the opportunity of someone else to come in and take it from you. And if, as indie devs, we still can’t get to market first and we get cloned and they are more successful than us then we learn from experience and try again.