Gamasutra_ dominik gotojuch’s blog – robot tales_ malicious game clones

Game cloning? Does it have anything to do with Dolly the sheep or stormtroopers? Every game developer who has had the sad opportunity to experience it first-hand knows that is not the case. Top free game apps for iphone 3gs If and when they decide to provide an account of what they went through, the rest of us can learn what can be done to avoid or at least prepare for such a scenario. Best apps for iphone 5c free Only a few days ago we found out that someone took the liberty of making as part of the “cloned” crowd.

Best utility apps for iphone 4 Time to share our story.

We released our debut title 60 Seconds! on desktop computers back in 2015. Best free music apps for iphone offline It originally started off as a simple Unity prototype with the intent to test if the engine would be a good fit for us. Best apps for iphone 2014 paid Almost two years later we had a game that was ready to ship, severe sleep deprivation and spines that resembled a nicely calligraphed letter ‘S’. Best free golf apps for iphone We were hopeful 60 Seconds! would provide enough to keep our studio, Robot Gentleman, going. List of top free apps for iphone Its success caught us by surprise. Best lifestyle apps for iphone 4 The degree of freedom it gave us was astonishing and terrifying. Best apps for iphone ios 9 It took us a few months to figure out how to operate and make sure we do not do anything silly, such as buying a maniac mansion or expanding our team like crazy. Best app for iphone 5 to download free music After coming back from Indiecade 2015 finals we decided we would love to see 60 Seconds! on more platforms. Best apps for iphone of all time Player feedback and our own gut feeling pointed towards the same direction: mobile was the way to go.

We decided to approach the project cautiously and start with the iOS version. Best free apps for iphone ever This move was rationalised by going for a premium sales model and the intention to limit the supported hardware. The happy day came in September 2016 when the game was unleashed on iPad and iPhone users. Best apps for iphone business We were enthusiastic to see the price tag was not discouraging for our audiences and within three months mobile 60 Seconds! was played by over 100 thousand players. Best apps for iphone 4 camera This was a great complement to the 300 thousand sales mark on Steam. Best diet apps for iphone 5 Crossing that line and feedback from our fans set our eyes on Android.

We were certain that if by this time there were no incidents of cloning our game, we should be fine. Best apps for iphone 60 Seconds! was too small of a deal to get ripped-off by income-hungry corporate-sized cloners [2], but also too complex to be easily replicated by a tiny team [3]. Best free apps for iphone 4 Vlambeer’s experiences with Ninja Fishing [1] seemed like the only scenario that may have been a viable threat to us. What we did not anticipate was that someone had a different idea on how to monetise our success for their own means.

It didn’t seem very serious at first. Best free hiking apps for iphone Someone made a simple app with stolen assets from our game and its marketing art. Best free utility apps for iphone 4 The app would only load what looked like the main menu from 60 Seconds!. Best free apps for iphone 4 2013 Any interaction with it brought up a loading screen, which generated tons of ads. Best new apps for iphone 5s Just before the loading was to be concluded the app crashed. Best free apps for iphone 2015 With a lot of folks eagerly waiting for 60 Seconds! to be released on Android, and all the attention other versions of the game received, it was inevitable that downloads would spike soon. Best free bible apps for iphone The fact that it was made available for free did not help and also made players overlook the fact that the app requested a wide spectrum of access privileges on their devices.

When we found out on the 16th the number of players was still below 5000. Best free meditation apps for iphone Quite a few of the reviewers who downvoted the game did not realise it was not the official version of the game from Robot Gentleman. Best ios 8 apps for iphone 6 We were concerned some of our fans may think we are responsible for this atrocity. Best apps for iphone for free music To counteract we immediately reached out to Google, reporting the incident with their copyright infringement forms and attempted to contact people at Google we’ve met personally in the past.

As of the 22nd of January we have not heard back from any of them, despite following up on the issue through formal and informal channels. 50 best apps for iphone 4 What is worse, the app climbed to 50k – 100k downloads and another, similar malware clone was uploaded to Google Play. Best running apps for iphone 4 Tracing the account that released the first app we found out that a similar strategy was used with three other games before. Best free apps for iphone These clones were either banned by Google or taken down by the “developers” themselves.

This case may not be as bad as some other cloning scenarios. Best apps for iphone 5 games When discussing the Ridiculous Fishing cloning, Rami Ismail from Vlambeer [1] claimed that they have lost a million dollars to the team that ripped their game off. Best entertainment apps for iphone 4 Luckily for us, we are not losing potential revenue. Best apps for iphone productivity Not yet, anyway. Best hotspot app for iphone 4 However, the damage caused by whoever malwared our game may be very real. Best apps to download on iphone We care about our player community, present and future, and we consider this a problem that should not be ignored. The best apps for iphone 5s Some players believe what they are downloading is the official release of 60 Seconds!. Best apps for iphone 5 ios 6 In fact, we only found out about the malware clone, because one of our fans contacted us through Facebook with a request to fix the Android version of the game. Latest best apps for iphone 4 We cannot be entirely sure how this situation will develop. Best 10 apps for iphone It may affect the popularity of our game on Android, should we decide to enter Google Play, as well as impact the game’s and studio’s reputation.

This problem could have been resolved at the app review stage, but it would seem that Google Play’s review process, which supposedly involves human in the procedure [4], did not work. Best apps for iphone watch Still, averting the damage was possible in a day or two, if the platform owner was to step in. The best free music apps for iphone Unfortunately, the lack of response from Google prevents that. List of best free apps for iphone 4s It makes the whole situation frustrating and confounding for us. Best free dating apps for iphone Instead of acting quick, we have someone benefitting from our work at the expense of our fans and causing potential PR damage to our studio. Best free hunting apps for iphone We do not have any timeframe on when this malicious app will be shut down and the appearance of its second version is a sign this whole mess is far from over.

Is there anything that can be done to end this right now? Not really. Best background apps for iphone 4 We can contact Google via our lawyers to make the copyright infringement report more official, but that does not guarantee anything and will take time. Best apps for iphone 5 australia With more people getting tricked by the malware clone, more ad revenue is generated. Best apps to get on iphone In the age of post-truth and the discoverability crisis on game distribution platforms, it is not hard to imagine scenarios like that happening more and more often and affecting developers both big and small. Best apps for iphone 4 2015 This has been an ongoing issue, since the entry level for game development and games distribution was lowered in the past few years.

As our example suggests, at this point cloners do not even have to expend any effort to clone an entire game. Best free walking apps for iphone All they need to do is “impersonate” the game using official artwork, build up a fake profile to lure players into installing the supposed game and they can start reaping the profits. Best iphone apps for iphone 5s One may consider this phenomenon facade cloning. Best free quiz apps for iphone If platform owners, fans and the actual developer are too slow to respond, cloners can get several days’ worth of ad revenue money, making such a ruse a highly profitable endeavour. Best apps for your iphone 4 All it takes is repeating it over and over again with one or more recognisable titles.

Update #1: as of 23/01/2017 the app’s downloads are between 100 and 500 thousand and we have still not heard back from Google Play. Best keyboard apps for iphone 4 The cloner is using a strategy of “releasing” new versions of the app to lure back players who assumed the app was not crashing intentionally.

Update #2: Google got back to us in the end and took down the malware app in the evening of 23/01/2017. Best gchat app for iphone Another clone is currently available on Google Play and we filed a second report with Google. Best free game apps for iphone 4s We can’t be exactly sure how much money the clone made with ad spamming, but with hundreads of thousands of installs our guess is that it was much more than the $25 Google Play registration fee. Best free flashlight app for iphone 4 without ads Facade cloning seems like a parasite dream come true.

Update #3: Two more clones available on Google Play as of 24/01/2017. Best apps for iphone and ipad We reported them to Google. Best apps for iphone 3gs Seems like this is a beginning of a neverending clone story. Best voice apps for iphone 4 It seems that with every clone, more “features” are available and not as many ads.