My article this week is tangentially about a couple of high-profile copycat games. Actually, it’s more about how this isn’t as dire as it seems.
I didn’t get into it in the article, but this will always be a problem for mobile games. For AAA games, the expense in making the game is in producing the content. Even if you have the perfect game design that you know will delight players, you still need dozens of people hammering away for months to produce those models, animations, and game environments. Even if you want to make a complete mechanical copy of Call of Duty, you still need millions of dollars to do it. This is not the case for Facebook games. In those games, the most valuable thing is the R&D that went into finding the optimal balance of social sharing, micro-transactions, and gameplay feedback to make the game fun, viral, and profitable. With that data in hand, you can re-create a successful game in a couple of months. Maybe even a few weeks or days in the case of the really simple games.
So a certain degree of design-poaching is inevitable. Still, I can’t help but shake my head at a company like Zynga. Over 2,000 people in that place, and not one of them has the will or authority to add a twist to their blatant knock-off? As a consumer, I dig the idea of a bunch of companies making constant gameplay re-mixes, taking the most popular mechanics and combining them to make new creations. After all, it doesn’t take much to make something new.
It’s just depressing how lazy they are in their plagiarism.
Juvenile and Proud
Yes, this game is loud, crude, childish, and stupid. But it it knows what it wants to be and nails it. And that's admirable.
Do you like electronic music? Do you like free stuff? Are you okay with amateur music from someone who's learning? Yes? Because that's what this is.
The Best of 2015
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2015.
Quakecon 2012 Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
Push the Button!
Scenes from Half-Life 2:Episode 2, showing Gordon Freeman being a jerk.