Experienced Points: Cloning is Good for You

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Mar 18, 2014

Filed under: Column 76 comments

I just want to say a few words in defense of cloning. I mean game cloning. Not biological cloning. I don’t know anything about biological cloning, except for that one terrible TNG episode where the writing was horrible and the cloning debate was so goofy and muddled it sounded like two Amish guys arguing Mac vs. PC.

Where was I? Oh, videogame cloning, right.

Of course, all of this stems from the recent Candy Crush controversy. On Facebook Jennifer Snow pointed out that King was kind of obligated to defend their Candy trademark, or they could risk losing it. That’s an interesting wrinkle to the discussion that I didn’t touch on in the main article (maybe I should have) so let’s talk about it here:

What I think King SHOULD have done is to trademark “Candy Crush”. That way if some idiot came out with “Candy Crush Story” or “Candy Crush Adventure”, then King could take them to court and I think most people would be okay with that. But instead they trademarked “Candy”, meaning that nobody anywhere is ever allowed to have the word candy in their game, and then King is “obligated” to sue everyone who tries. That’s completely unreasonableThe fact that they were GRANTED trademarks on common English words is also part of the problem.. And then they trademarked “Saga” and went after completely unrelated games in unrelated genres where the claim of “market confusion” is ludicrous. They’re not trademark trolls because they’re defending their trademarks, they’re trademark trolls because they grabbed broad, overreaching trademarks and then enforced them way beyond what I think would be considered a reasonable requirement.

King has lost / given up one of these trademark fights in the US. But they’re still holding onto it abroad. Here’s hoping they either clean up their act or get spanked in court.



[1] The fact that they were GRANTED trademarks on common English words is also part of the problem.

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76 thoughts on “Experienced Points: Cloning is Good for You

  1. Humanoid says:

    It’s a sub-editor’s dream though, the headlines write themselves: Candy King Crushed: Sweets Saga Comes to Sour End

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Hah! The possibilities are endless!
      Saga Sours: King Crushed in Candy Court

      1. KMJX says:

        This sounds like a name for a Hunter deck….

  2. Brandon says:

    I had a similar conversation about business with a coworker today. She was a little bit annoyed that our company is “copying” some business practices from our competitors, and I pointed out that every company does that to some degree. You kind of have to to be competitive. You can’t start out from a LESSER standpoint, you have to build your foundation to at LEAST equal theirs, and then you can innovate from there.

    We live in a society where new ideas don’t come about that frequently anymore. I mean genuinely brand new ideas with absolutely no precedent. Majority of success stories you will hear about nowadays are people who innovated very cleverly on top of some previous success (Which doesn’t have to have been THEIR success)

    1. Trix2000 says:

      I think it’s more the case that true innovation is a lot rarer that people might think. Not to say innovation is dead (hardly), but that it’s never been all that common to see really radical changes in a product/design. I mean, isn’t that why the real innovations are so notable – because not just every company/person can come up with them?

      Also, insert obligatory “there is nothing new under the sun” here.

      1. harborpirate says:

        I think you’d like James Burke’s Connections series. Its a classic.

        His “alternative view of change” is very much what you describe above; that innovation (change) arises when two or more ideas from different areas/disciplines are combined in a new way.

  3. ET says:

    Isn’t one of the requirements common to* copyright law, trademark law, and patent law, that the thing being given the protection needs to be non-obvious/non-trivial?
    Has one or more of these areas of law been changed, or did the bodies granting the protection just become super lax over the years?
    Trademarks on “Candy” and “Saga”, patents for squares with rounded corners** on smartphones, and the infamous copyright on the birthday song…

    * Or at least common in a general/simplified wording/phrasing.

    ** OK, this one is not only trivial, but I was under the impression that software was already friggin’ protected by copyright. Now it’s got double protection! :S

    1. Jack Kucan says:

      To be fair, the birthday song is an original work. It’s not like they copyrighted an old, preexisting song. Comparing it to the rest of those is kind of missing the point. Whereas the birthday song is a creative work and non-trival, the words candy and saga are trivial, common English words. And rounded squares have been around since before the English language. Copyrighting that is like copyrighting a squiggly line.

      1. mediocre poster says:

        “It's not like they copyrighted an old, preexisting song.”

        They did, actually. Summy Company acquired a copyright on the song in 1935, but the complete song had been around in print since at least 1912. The tune is probably way older than that, though, there were tons of songs with the same melody since at least the 19th century.

        Sorry if you were being sarcastic or something and I missed the joke. Sorta dehydrated.

        1. Jack Kucan says:

          Shit, sorry. I was going off an old explanation by someone who apparently wasn’t well versed in what actually happened and didn’t bother to fact check before I said anything because I’d forgotten where I’d heard that and thus forgotten it was from an unreliable source.

        2. Peter H. Coffin says:

          Audio recordings (“phonogram”) (P) are also different from regular copyright (C) in ways that I’m not 100% clear on, but every recording gets its own, and they’re very tied to the specific one. One can’t wield a phonogram copyright, for example, to prevent another artist from recording the same song; one *has* to use the (C) copyright for that and in Western world, that’s all tied up in ASCAP/BMI/BMG licensing. People make *careers* out of trying to understand those.

      2. Steve C says:

        You seem to be defending the official legal status of the Birthday Song which is surprising.

        The Birthday Song is generally used as an example of something silly and of the law not working as it should. Singing the Birthday Song at your 5yr old’s birthday party is still just as illegal as any other copyright infringement. Same with recording it. That feels intrinsically wrong to most people and that’s why it’s referenced so often in these debates.

        But if you really believe in the protected legal status of the song is just and correct the next time you hear your family or friends sing it in public you should stop them immediately. Doubly so if they record it. They are committing a copyright infringement.

        1. Daniel says:

          Um, no. That would be the logical outcome of believing said trademark is valid *and having a robot brain* (that hasn’t been programmed with the fair use doctrine). People with meat brains can both respect a rule and understand there are places and times for its enforcement. In this case, places and times when the usage is commercial in nature

          1. syal says:

            If a law should only be enforced at certain times, it should only apply at those times. Subjectively enforcing a law defeats the point of having one.

            1. Retsam says:

              Except that in most cases, trying to legislate the exact conditions under which a certain law should be enforced leads to ridiculously complex laws, even for something rather simple. You’d end up with a law that read like this:

              “Singing a song without permission of the copyright holder is illegal

              UNLESS that song is a cultural staple [e.g. Happy Birthday, though defining this would be a nightmare that I’m omitting]

              EXCEPT for cases in which the performance or a recording of it is being used for monetary gain


              It’s trying to write laws with a bunch of exceptions and edge cases that gets us in the case where no one can understand the law without a lawyer anyways.

              Another example of this is the speed limit, which is clearly subjectively enforced. It exists more as a safety net so that dangerous drivers can be pulled over without needing to try to enumerate all of the conditions that might be considered dangerous driving, but most people can break the law without any repercussions.

              Granted, I don’t entirely agree with the practice; but I can see why it’s pragmatically useful.

              1. Tom says:

                I think happy birthday actually is copyrighted. If I recall correctly from the end credits, Kubrick had to license its use in 2001: A Space Odyssey (I remember it stuck in my mind at the time). Or maybe that was Kubrick just being obsessive about every detail.

              2. Bubble181 says:

                Err, speeding enforced subjectively? Maybe where you’re from.
                Radar enforced speeding cameras hit every car on the same spot, always, from a specific limit up.

                1. ET says:

                  What happens when there isn’t a camera on the road?

              3. syal says:

                If you can’t make a law that covers what you want it to cover without needing a lot of exemptions, you don’t know how to write it. It should prevent or force a specific activity, not a broad one. It’s like building a wall by specifying all the spaces that won’t be a wall. “2+2 Equals every single-digit integer, with the exception of 1, 2, 3, 5…” etc.

                “Don’t use copyrighted material to make money, or in a work or body of work that makes money, without the copyright holder’s permission” covers the main points pretty thoroughly (“a body of work” including a non-monetized video on a monetized Youtube account, or other related groups that don’t directly make money but can make other money-making things more popular and more profitable). You can throw “prominently” in there to help exempt news stations or paintings on the back wall of someone’s home.

                The problem with subjective enforcement of overly broad laws is you have very little control over who gets to enforce it. There’s nothing stopping a policeman from pulling over every black male driving three miles over the speed limit while letting all the white males doing ten over go by. Even if there’s a law against it, the guy enforcing that one can subjectively not enforce it in this case.

              4. Steve C says:

                trying to legislate the exact conditions under which a certain law should be enforced leads to ridiculously complex laws

                It really doesn’t. You just write them correctly and they are pretty clear. By being more focused normally they are clearer and easier to read. US laws tend to be written to be as complex as possible for some reason but that’s not necessary. Laws from other countries in the anglosphere are fairly straight forward.

                If the law goes too far and is too broad then the court strikes down the law. This is primarily because they are enforced and when presented to a judge they get shot down. If they weren’t enforced then there wouldn’t be the same opportunities for judges to shoot them down.

          2. Steve C says:

            A full public performance of a song is not covered by the fair use doctrine. Choosing not to enforce a law undermines the concept that Justice is (or at least should be) blind. If you feel that shouldn’t be enforced then you do not agree with the law. It’s just words on paper and it could be written in a way that scenario is allowed.

      3. krellen says:

        The birthday song is actually sung to the tune of an early song, “Good Morning To You”. It’s not original; only the lyrics are.

        Nevermind the fact that corporate copyrights aren’t even close to what the framers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution. Perpetual copyright was never their design.

    2. Mike S. says:

      Nonobvious only applies to patents. Trademarks only have to be distinctive, since the point is to identify and distinguish a particular manufacturer’s products. There are different classes that are easier or harder to protect: completely arbitrary marks like Kodak are easy, entirely generic terms, like trying to trademark “Candy” brand candy, aren’t allowed, suggestive or descriptive marks fall in between.

      I suppose that generic is a little like obvious, but it certainly doesn’t prevent using common English words as trademarks. (Or other languages– nike is just Greek for “victory”, after all.)

      If there’d never been any sort of Candy brand game, it might conceivably have been practical to reserve that term as a trademark. (Compare Apple Computers, for example.) But getting “Saga” strikes me as wildly unlikely, given that it’s descriptive, widely used for adventures, actually used for previous games, etc.

      1. kdansky says:

        > Nonobvious only applies to patents.

        Only in principle. In reality, the vast majority of recent (software) patents are blatantly trivial.

      2. ET says:

        Thanks for that clarification.
        Obviously “trivial” wouldn’t apply to patents.
        (I haven’t been sleeping well, so I didn’t think that one through.)
        However, the ‘generic’ point you bring up, I kind of lump into the same category in my head.
        AKA, the “people being dicks, abusing the legal system” category. :)

  4. Cinebeast says:

    I totally agree that cloning gameplay is hardly a bad idea. A surprising amount of people condemned the Darksiders series for its derivative gameplay, evocative of Prince of Persia, God of War and more, but I loved both games. So what if they play the same as older games? The point is that they play well.

    1. modus0 says:

      Saints Row IV seems to have more or less cloned several of the gameplay aspects for the superpowers from Prototype, but SRIV feels far more polished and precise in the controls, making the usage of the powers in SRIV much nicer.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        And Prototype was already cloning from Hulk: Ultimate Destruction.

        1. Batti says:

          Correction: Prototype(I) and IH:UD had the same developers

    2. Sleeping Dragon says:

      And then there’s the whole genre (or are those two separate genres by now? subgenres?) of Terraria-like and Minecraft-like games, which, even if the core gameplay is brutally similar, offer a new world to explore, new crafting to be discovered, new enemies to fight. I think we’d have dozens more Minecraft clones if so much of the creative juice wasn’t channeled into the modding community.

      On top of that we have not even touched upon games as storytelling devices. JRPGs tend to be perceived as the ultimate cloning genre, especially with some tools like RPGMaker making it into the wild, and pretty much everyone with some experience into it will be able to identify the “standard JRPG” mechanics. At the same time while there are people who experiment with gameplay there is also a whole crowd who are content to take the standard package as is because their goal in making the game is to tell a story.

  5. rofltehcat says:

    I think clones are fine as long as some changes and refinement is incorporated. I’d argue that copying another game just as it is without improving on it, like it happens a lot on mobile (as stated by you: because of their simplicity)can actually stifle innovation because it diminishes the success of companies that are actually innovating.
    Without changing a few things, seeing what works etc. I don’t know if a genre can actually evolve without some changes to the core formula.

    Maybe calling the clones without any noticeable changes carbon copies would fit. But on the other hand, where does a carbon copy stop and where does a clone begin?

    And although clones seem to be often frowned upon, people seem to be longing for just another game like XYZ. Another KotoR, another Skyrim, another Thief… and yet we don’t get them :(

    Maybe a game really needs a certain simplicity to be actually cloned. Or maybe it just needs a larger number of clones for something to happen, both in the direction of stabilizing and innovation?

    1. ET says:

      I agree with all of your points, but with a giant asterisk.
      …and that asterisk, is that copyright law has had its duration extended hugely, past the point of sensible.

      Part of the debate about derivative works (e.g. ‘game clones’) has to include the limited duration of protection, and the public domain**.
      So, back in the day, 28*** years was all you got, and after that people were free to build off of, or entirely copy your work, as they see fit.
      Now the duration has been extended to past the lifetime of the original author.
      How much money do dead people need? :|

      * E.g. The infamous ‘squares with rounded corners’ software patent that Apple was suing Samsung over…or was it Samsung suing Apple? ^^;

      ** Not all countries have the equivalent of the public domain, so this now opens up a whole other can of worms, so-to-speak.

      *** Fourteen years, plus an additional fourteen if you were still alive to renew it.

  6. Humanoid says:

    Some games have the issue of not being an accurate enough clone. SWTOR for example I felt always felt short because it seemed to be a clone of a crappy years-old build of WoW instead of the friendlier current versions. If you’re going to clone something, why leave out some of the best bits?

  7. Steve C says:

    Cloning as a ‘good thing’ goes beyond games. Cloning IBM’s BIOS through clean room reverse engineering brought about IBM Clone computing. That was a major step for personal computers. It was a analysis of IBM’s software, which one group described what it was doing, and another group coded it. It resulted in a copy that was not a copyright infringement.

    It’s easy to call that artistically bankrupt as there wasn’t any art at all. It was still an important and necessary part for computers to become what they are today. Even the artistically bankrupt clones have real merit.

  8. Decius says:

    Nitpick: The RTS was Dune 2. Dune was an adventure game with some strategy elements in the mid to late game.

    1. Bubble181 says:

      Both were good games… And I’d argue C&C predates Warcraft II by a few months.

  9. Dude says:

    Wait a minute. They tried to trademark the word “Candy”? What next? “Soap”? “Dude”? “Ludonarrative Dissonance”?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Its time someone did something about it.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      This is what puzzles me the most about this. Not that they tried to trademark the words “Candy” and “Saga”, but that they succeeded. That is just ridiculous.

      1. Shamus says:

        Agreed. This game is being played so badly I feel we need to take some of the blame off the players and put it on the refs.

        1. SyrusRayne says:

          This is about where I am, as well. I’d compare it to a DnD campaign, or maybe a broader online PvP scenario; If the rules are broken, people are going to take advantage of that. And that, in turn, encourages people who wouldn’t normally do so to break the rules so that they can keep pace.

          So fix the bloody rules.

      2. Mike S. says:

        It doesn’t look as if they necessarily succeeded on Saga. For now, at least, their application is suspended pending whatever happens in the UK. http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=85482736&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch

      3. A. Hieronymus Bosch says:

        If I recall correctly, at least one of those (Saga) was on some sort of legal hold at the time they sent their demands out. They didn’t actually have the trademark right to it.

        Edit: What I get for not refreshing the page.

      4. On cloning the term “Saga” to apply to a game. As the author of a game named “Saga” (based on Norse sagas)about the year 1980, distributed by TSR games (the makers of D&D), I would like to note that the title was already well in use before anyone else tried to trademark it.

      5. Lazlo says:

        I’m also curious why they trademarked “Candy” and “Saga”, but not “Crush”, which is kind of a major gameplay element (I guess?). That means I could make “Gumball Crush Adventure” and that’s fair game? Weirdness abounds.

        1. Humanoid says:

          Wouldn’t put it past some other troll to have beaten them to the punch for ‘Crush’ – though it’d presumably be someone slightly less litigious.

            1. ET says:

              Orange is the best.
              Anyone who says otherwise is a HERETIC!

              1. MichaelG says:

                When I was in high school, I loved Orange Crush (and Starburst candies.) Now I can’t believe I ever touched the stuff.

      6. Bubble181 says:

        To be fair, “Candy” isn’t a stranger word to copyright than “Windows”, let alone “Word”. We’re just so used to thinking of those as brands that we don’t really register them as the regular word anymore.

    3. Mike S. says:

      Bicycle? Sure? Axe? It’s all in how you use it. (Which isn’t to say I think King’s actions are particularly defensible.)

    4. Neko says:

      I’m trademarking “2” to put an end to sequels.

      1. Humanoid says:

        I’d rather you trademarked ‘II’, and indeed all subsequent Roman numerals, which are a blight on readability in this day and age.

        1. ET says:

          But it’s fun to figure out what “Copyright MCMXLVII” means!

            1. ET says:

              Duh! :P

              Although, to be honest, I needed to look up a converter web page, which also had the table listing the letters.
              I know what M, C, X, I, and V mean, but I didn’t even remember that there was an L!

  10. MaxEd says:

    My main beef with clones is that so many companies prefer to make them. It makes it painful to be in game development business as a simple programmer. Unless you’re ready to struck out on your own (which means you get to be also a game-designer, probably artist and certainly one-man marketing team), there is very little choice. I’m speaking of situation in Russia/Moscow, because that’s what I know. EVERYBODY here is making clones right now. I’m tired of it and angry, but unwilling to relocate abroad.

    What’s worse, too many companies are going for “just re-skin that gameplay” clones, where they do not introduce any new elements (they might break some, though, since the designers often don’t quite understand what makes the original game tick; and higher-ups are more worried about monetization than about gameplay). In process, they clone UI too, or sometimes make their own, much worse UI.

    I understand the value of near-clones in improving original gameplay, but our current culture of cloning is sick.

    1. ET says:

      I think Russia’s situation is pretty similar to Canada/USA too.
      Last time I checked, Apple’s App store, and Google’s Play store were both flooded with derivative, unoriginal knock-offs.
      Not the good kind, like Shamus is advocating for, either;
      The bad kind, which he acknowledges in a single sentence in his article.

      At least with the exchange rates and price differences between Russia/USA*, you have one thing in your favor:
      It’s relatively cheap to produce crappy knockoff games, and profitable sell them to Americans! :)

      * Correct me if I’m wrong. All I’ve got to go off of is the close proximity of Ukraine**, which I’ve actually traveled to, and anecdotal evidence stating that Russian currency has less buying power than the US dollar.

      ** Their economy was definitely in the crapper, and I traveled there before the recent protests, which I’m hoping won’t affect their economy poorly. :)

      1. MaxEd says:

        Yeah, well, it was like that till a couple of years ago. Now, salaries in Moscow are comparable with Europe/USA. There is still some gap, but it’s not as big. That’s why many companies begun to open offices in Ukraine/Belarus, where workforce is much cheaper. In Russia, they tend to hire people from smaller cities, and either open an office there, or bring them to Moscow, but still offer smaller salary.

        The bad thing is, MMO/casual/mobile development pretty much eaten all the other kind of games in Russia. The last time anyone heard of a Russian game (with maybe and exception of War Thunder MMO, because of its release on PS4)? I think it was the new King’s Bounty, which was released YEARS ago! (Metro and Stalker are Ukrainian games, World of Tanks is from Belarus and a MMO).

        One of problems with Russian gamedev, we have very few indies here. Firstly, because the laws and economy make it very hard to start a small business and keep it alive, secondly, because we don’t have anything as big as a Kickstarter (and to start a Kickstarter campaign you have to have connections in USA or Canada). Actually, we don’t quite NEED our own local Kickstarter clone that would only be accessible to Russian-speaking people, because that limits scope of campaign a lot. It would be very nice, though, if Kickstarter allowed people from all countries to start campaigns and accept money (I understand that problem is with laws, not Kickstarter company itself).

  11. Asimech says:

    I think I need to drop this off here:


    I also have some whining about “what cloning doesn’t/shouldn’t mean” but I think I’ll save everyone else* the time.

    * I’ll still be ranting internally.

    1. ET says:

      That’s only tangentially related in this case, I think.
      Like, the main thrust of that article, is about non-commercial, critical works, which should be covered under the 1st amendment.
      However, the thing with the Candy trademark, is that the company is trying to stop commercial knock-offs, who are benefiting from the Candy name, while getting money for other companies.
      Well, that’s their claim anyways;
      Their actions, as Shamus pointed out, paint them as abusive of trademark law, to go after companies who either pre-date them, or are completely unrelated.

      Does anyone know how/why certain comments are “awaiting moderation” and other ones aren’t?
      I’m not trying to game the system, and I know Shamus has to keep spam-bots and trolls away, but it seems randomized to me.
      Should I avoid using links? Swears? Flanderized swears?

      1. Humanoid says:

        There might be an element of random sampling, I don’t know, but the official WordPress functionality is described here. However it might not be the complete story depending on what plugins Shamus has installed.

        EDIT: This screenshot is a handy at-a-glance look at what WordPress bloggers get to control at the most basic level.

      2. krellen says:

        I’m pretty sure the word that refers to a creator’s right to control reproduction of a work is on the list that triggers automatic moderation.

        I’d use said word, but then this reply would be moderated.

      3. Shamus says:

        Okay, so the moderation thing is a big problem, and getting worse lately. Here is why:

        There are a couple of plugins that I NEED in order to run this blog. If not for Akismet and the other filters, I’d get about 10 spam a minute. A huge chunk of my day would be spent just deleting crap.

        But while the filters catch 99% of the spam, they randomly throw legit comments into moderation for no reason. I’ve been watching this happen for ages and I’ve never seen any patterns. Long, short, lots of links, no links, it doesn’t matter.

        It does seem to pick on some particular users more than others.

        So basically: Nobody knows and there’s nothing we can do. :(

      4. Asimech says:

        The point in the article is that companies don’t need to send threatening letters or sue anyone in order to keep their trademark, so the argument that “we’ll lose our trademark if we don’t protect it” is not true. They get to use their own common sense to make a judgment call on whether something is a problem for them or not.

        King threatening obviously unrelated games, e.g. Banner Saga for having “saga” in the title, is therefore purely their decision and not one they were forced to take because of poorly thought trademark law. Which is how King has presented it. It’s relevant because it makes it clear that King is unquestionably in the wrong.

        I provided the link because it’s a commonly held misconception about the law that needs correction and I wanted a source people might believe (i.e. not me).

        Edit: Dammit brain, stop mixing two iterations of a sentence.

  12. Nick-B says:

    Somewhat similar to all this, is a thought I’ve had for over a decade. And it is that since each game company cannot use the work of others to innovate and add on to eachothers games, we are stuck with hundreds of games that do one thing well, but are horrible in other aspects.

    For example, Call of Duty. The gun-play in it is fantastic, the character motions feel real and are satisfying, but their story-writing sucks and everything is so darned scripted.

    Grand Theft Auto does really well building large cities with impressive detail and explorability, but their gun-play sucks. The vehicles are fun, but when you have to get out of them or shoot at another car, it’s where the game falls apart for me.

    Crysis builds impressive graphical systems, but it’s all mostly based around small unimpressive forest-ey environments.

    The Elder Scrolls have fantastic open-worlds, but their facial tech and character animations and movements are horrendous.

    Half Life makes great believable characters and models, but theirs games lack replayability.

    Now, imagine if someone could come along and rip out the good tech from all these games, while using other game’s tech for the spots where they are weak in. That way, game creators don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel. And if all this tech was available to all, everybody could benefit from other’s works, and whoever can put it together the best are the people that succeed. And it’d be unlike todays business model, where success is determined by whoever can re-invent the wheel for the 80th time the best.

    1. ET says:

      Well, we are slowly coming to a point like this.
      Not 100% free software/tech, but there’s a lot of open source stuff out there.
      Plus, there’s a decent number of reasonably priced engines out there, so people who can afford to pay, have that option.
      Last time I checked, anyways.
      Some engines let you use it for free if you make less than $10k, or if it’s non-commercial, and have entry-level pricing around a couple hundred bucks. It’s bad if you live somewhere where a price in USD is prohibitive, but it’s a start.

      1. Nick-B says:

        Sure, but big game companies shudder at the thought of using someone elses tech, and end up making their own. And even assuming you mod it to do one thing, it doesn’t mean the feel of a game mechanic will match that of a mechanic added in to the tech by another company.

        Even with the recent revelation of leasing the Unreal engine 4 for practically pocket-change-worth per month, I don’t see this happening any time soon.

        1. ET says:

          Hence “slowly coming to this”. ;)

  13. Yldri says:

    When playing Skyrim, it was obvious how they took a lot of clues from Gothic 3 and the Gothic series in general. Other people might have cried “Scandalous! Thieves! Plagiarists!”

    Since I’m not a shareholder at Pyranha Bytes, seeing another series showing the qualities I am fond of is nothing but good news. It would be stupid of me to say “why can’t there be more games like Gothic 3?” and complain when it actually happens.


    The idea of “stealing” what works from other developpers should not have such a bad press, at least not among players. Metal Gear is on its way to become an open-world Splinter Cell. That very idea sounds like a dream game to me, but apparently I should be offended… and why exactly? Oh, I see, it’s because it doesn’t have the proper title on the box. Call me old-fashioned, but the very idea of “brand loyalty” sounds absurd when proposed that way.

    I can understand how companies don’t like it when it’s done blatantly and perhaps illegally, but if you are on the consumer side, it is very often is a net positive.


    The recent Call of Duty games belong to a hugely popular brand of linear and scripted FPS games (let’s talk about solo campaigns here). If you like that, why would it matter when other such games pop up? Let’s see what we have:
    – Modern Warfare
    – Modern Warfare 2
    – Modern Warfare 3
    – Black Ops
    – Black Ops 2
    – Ghosts
    – Medal of Honor
    – Medal of Honor Warfighter
    – Homefront
    – Battlefield 4 (from memory, the solo campaign was light on vehicles and remained very CoD-like)

    I would even add Ryse Son of Rome since it’s essentially the Modern Warfare formula without the “Modern” part. You could also add the earlier Call of Duty (WW2) series, or even Medal of Honor Allied Assault, but it’s with Modern Warfare that all the modern ropes of the concept really took off.

    Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light are mechanically very similar but much, much slower-paced and focused on atmosphere and the gameworld, and therefore I would be against including them in the list, but some people would.

    I’m not really into that kind of games, so maybe my judgement isn’t “serious enough” and veterans see issues I just don’t care about as a more casual user, but they do carry a guilty pleasure, and I don’t see why I wouldn’t want more of the same. I like Call of Duty, why wouldn’t I like Homefront? Especially since these games are so short, making each essentially a DLC of whichever is the flagship in your eyes. Play, enjoy, uninstall.


    The idea of repetitiveness reeks of hypocrisy when people can happily play one single game for 300 hours (like Skyrim) or even vastly more when you get into MMOs, all over the course of a few months (and let’s not get into the cumulative total hours over several years of MMOs) but apparently they feel they are always doing the same thing when a five-hour game gets released every ten months, and when you can play all its clones in a cumulated 30 hours. Even as someone who likes Skyrim way more than any CoD clone, I am forced to admit that your next twenty hours of Skyrim are likely to be much less varied than your next five hours of CoD.


    A last example since it’s quite dear to me: I would never have heard of Iron Front were it not for a Steam sale.

    It’s ArmA2 in WW2 (not a DLC, but from another developper who bought the engine). Sure, there is a free ArmA2 mod named Invasion44 for that with more content (theorically)… but for a low price (10), I got a surprisingly good game with excellent graphical assets, tons of new and very lifelike animations (something the base game, and therefore the mod, lack), and very strong mission design. That’s what I would have missed had I stuck with the “I don’t need it, I already have a similar game” mentality. Instead, I opted for having more of what I like, and I ended up with a game I enjoy playing more than ArmA2.


    In short:
    As a player, you should rejoice when good ideas are spread around. You don’t make games, you buy them; having more games that share qualities with your favourite series is in your interest.

  14. Rack says:

    The logical conclusion of this is some company making a series of 26 games named after the alphabet…

    1. ET says:

      That’s a chump’s game!
      I’m going to get trademarks on the top 100 most common English words!

      1. Mike S. says:

        Looking at the list on Wikipedia, someone’s already beat you to some of them. The magazine industry has Time, Us, People, Well, and Look (though the last may have lapsed). And All is a laundry detergent.

        1. syal says:

          Dibs on “The”!

    2. AT says:

      26 games for each of the letters of the (presumably English) alphabet?
      Bah! Amateurs!

      Just you wait until I begin releasing my epic series named after the Unicode code points!

  15. ChristopherT says:

    Copyrights and Trademarks have gotten out of hand, it has been insane for a while hasn’t it?

    “Candy”, “Saga”, “Scrolls” it’s silly, and what’s next, some sort of vegetable? You can no longer use corn in relation to music, because it might be mistaken for the band Korn, so music by lay can no longer be corny, it has been declared! Nonsense stuff, oh well, off to get a snack, maybe I’ll have an Apple, apple’s are yummy…Apple


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