Indie developer Nimblebit gamers on Reddit criticizing the company.
However, just after the new year, Atari ordered the removal of Black Powder Media’s a game strongly inspired by Atari’s Battlezone. This galvanized the community in a similar way, except this time, gamers were furious that Atari shut down an indie game company that made an extremely similar game.
Unfortunately, the line between inspiration and copying is incredibly blurry at best. The one thing that’s certain is that copying is here to stay. Copying has been present in some form since the dawn of capitalism (if you need proof, just go to the toothpaste isle of your local supermarket). The game industry is no stranger to this trend: game companies have been copying each other for years. Given it’s repeated success, there’s little reason to think that this practice will stop. Indie flash game studio XGEN Studios posted a response to Nimblebit, showing that their hit games were also copied:
Some would even argue that the incredibly successful iOS game borrow many of their game mechanics from slot machines to increase retention. So what is copying, or more importantly, which parts of it are moral and immoral? Everyone seems to have a different answer, but it’s safe to say that people always copy the most successful ideas. The one thing that those in the Zynga-Nimblebit conversation seems to have overlooked is that everyone copies others in some way.
Of course, while “watch, then replicate” model shows that marketing, analytics, and operations can improve on an existing game concept. Or just give them the firepower to beat out the original game, depending on how you look at it.
I want to hear your thoughts: Should game companies be encouraged or punished for taking the best ideas from other games? Where do you draw the line between inspiration and duplication? Sound off in the comments.