Games are now becoming close to a primary need in mobile phones, especially in the era where phones are quickly becoming a part of our limbs: you rarely see it sitting alone on a table or a desk, even when it’s being charged. This has caused a huge increase in so-called game-houses (which are actually software houses, but with more fun-seeking programmers). However, this apparently comes with a cost.
After the undeniably shocking rise and fall of Flappy Bird, it raised concerns of how easy it is to make a knock-off game. Moments before Flappy Bird got taken down from App Store and Google Play, several games with similar artwork and gameplay as the Flappy Bird has surfaced. Most attempted to add their own “value” into the game to make it seem unique. The value can be as complex as more difficult gameplay (such as moving pipes, flying bird instead of flapping, etc.) to as trivial as different animals who can’t seem to fly.
Now, another game has experienced a similar course.
Familiar with this view?
Yes, it is 2048, a seemingly simple game, which has captured the heart (and time) of several hundred thousands of mobile phone owners all around the world. The simple nature of the game (slide in one of four directions to join the same-numbered tiles together to reach 2048) has been a major plus point. Its deceiving difficulty also helped it reached its popularity. Starting from a browser game, its mobile version with added game modes (such as time attack, multiplayer, and X-Tile) has been a hit.
One day, I found out about this mobile version (previously I only played the desktop version), and I wanted it in my Android Phone. As any normal Android user would do, I searched for the game in the Google PlayStore. And guess what? I found almost a thousand versions of it! From a truly identical copy to a “slightly slanted” copy (such as making it hexagonal instead of four-sided), the PlayStore had it all!
Now this is new.. Not.
This is a common problem in the terms of mobile apps development nowadays. I believe this problem hits not only games, but also other software such as productivity tools; however its lower popularity rendered it invisible.
In the case of 2048, its super simple logo made it more difficult for users to differ the real one from the fake ones. However, Gabriele Circulli, the proclaimed creator of the game, has admitted upfront that this game is based on the game 1024 by Veewo Studio, and is conceptually similar to Threes by Asher Vollmer.
Yes, the owner admitted it, loud and clear.
What is 1024 by Veewo, anyway? It has the same concept, with half of the goal. That’s it. Neat, isn’t it? They even made it with colorful tiles (to grab the attention of a younger audience, maybe?), incorporated an RPG approach (making the tiles as characters that grow as they get combined), and added some other cosmetic improvements. However, unlike the 10,000,000+ downloads that 2048 has, 1024 only has 100,000+ downloads.
Threes by Asher Vollmer, on the other hand, can be played endlessly because it has no goals (unlike 1024 and 2048, which has a specific criteria for winning). How is it doing? It has also only achieved 100, 000+ downloads.
So apparently, no matter your reasoning or approach, and whether you create something that is copied or original, as long as the game is considered as ‘fun’ by the masses, it doesn’t matter. And it takes a little bit more than being just plain ‘fun’ to actually succeed and make it big.
What’s that extra ingredient, you asked? Luck, my friend.