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No Sunny Day: Being dragged into the Clone Wars

Hello everyone. My name is Yoeri Staal and I am angry.
You might have never heard of me, or my game Cloud Wars Sunny Day, which is now available in the App Store.

But I did not put it there.

The game appeared in the vast portfolio of an unknown person, who according to his (or her) name “shao zheng”, lives on the other side of the planet. The portfolio is filled with games ripped from many different developers.

It finally happened, a cloner found my game. He stripped the protective layer, fiddled around inside, and inserted their own filthy code. Then uploaded and presented my work as his own.
Sending it out there like a cheap prostitute, ready to claim any little cash it would make.

Calling him a cloner is an understatement. There are discussions about what is a clone and what isn’t. Can a game developer own a game mechanic? Can they own a brand name? If you change the assets, is it still a clone?
In this case there’s no doubt. The game is exactly the same, including all assets. When you boot up the game it even shows my company logo. The only change is the new obtrusive ad on startup, making the game unplayable. What drives a cloner to do this? Simple cash of course.

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The original game (first) compared to the clone (second).

There is no gatekeeper on the App Store, you can do whatever you want, as long as you pass the first threshold. To take a game down, one has to jump through hoops and fill in forms. These copyright claims take a lot of time and effort, and only after the damage was done, someone cares about proof of ownership.
For the cloner it’s a simple process: insert some ad code in someone else’s game and upload it. Any cash it makes is pure profit, split between the cloner and the App Store.

Newgrounds solved the problem over a decade ago. Every user was able to vote for a game, and if a game would fall under a threshold, it was destroyed. The stores are filled with bad games, ratings mean nothing. Bad game developers are requesting 5-star ratings, returning the favor.

This cannot go on forever. At this rate, the quality of the App Store will further drop, and people will turn away. So please, stop the endless stream of clones, and improve the value of peer review.

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