Game Creator Finds That Knockoffs Can't Match His Awesome Game

from the winning dept

One thing game developers have always had, and will always have, to deal with is the dreaded copycat clone. It's something of a success indicator when you create something entertaining enough to breed like products. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Or, instead of being flattered, you can go the Zynga route and sue folks using IP laws rather than compete with them directly. Or, if one were so inclined, one could take a page out of the Namco playbook and threaten a kid for making a Pacman clone. Defenders of these actions will claim that they're necessary. After all, a great amount of work and development went into those games and it seems unfair for a copycat to come along, use similar designs, and reap the benefits. How could the original creator compete with that?

Here to show us how the original creator could compete with that is Rami Ismail, developer of Ridiculous Fishing, who was just a tad late to the iOS market compared with copycat Ninja Fishing. Instead of going legal, or even crying foul, however, Ismail just concentrated on making his game freaking awesome.
"When we released the game, we promised people that for $2.99 (£1.79) they would get Ridiculous Fishing without any further in-app purchases or anything," he told Digital Spy at PC and indie games expo Rezzed.

"We're going to keep our word, but we want to emphasize that point that we were really serious about that. The plan we have now, if we pull it off the way we want to, we're going to double the content and add a completely new narrative arc, and explore that world a bit further."
The result? Well, Ridiculous Fishing got real big, real fast. Ninja Fishing did okay as well, but Ismail's game has the kind of cachet that only comes with a tightly developed game and a loyal fanbase. Built largely off of his promise to refrain from in-app purchases and his passion for his customers, the whole thing exploded on iOS once it was released.
"Then what happened, that bubble just exploded. Elijah Wood played Ridiculous Fishing and tweeted about it. That's mind-blowing. That's not something that happens. We didn't expect it to be this big - we hoped it would be this size. We really hoped this would be the definitive statement about creativity will always win, because obviously the whole cloning background is still there for us, right?

"We still want to make this statement that Ninja Fishing did well, but Ridiculous Fishing wins because it was the better game. Better games win. That's what we hoped people would get out of it, and I think they did."
A ton of downloads and one Apple design award later, Ismail serves as the perfect example of what the combination of fan loyalty and well-designed products mean in the war against game cloners. Instead of focusing on being angry and going the legal route, Ismail won because his game is better. Something to which the rest of the developer community should probably be paying attention.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    Wally (profile), Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 5:39am

    In app purchases

    I don't mind in app purchases as long as they aren't required to complete a task in a game. I stopped paying attention to FarmVille because of it.

    I grew up on games in a GUI environment Ina time when text adventures were all the rage with PC's, my family had a MacPlus. I grew up on the works of Duane Blhem and a few other titles.

    Tell me, is it so bad to still enjoy the good old 2D Mac games if they are converted over like Stuntcopter, Zero Gravity, and Cairo Shootout?

    If you plan on getting the Stuntcopter remake for iOS, make sure it's the iPad version since it has more of the old Mac feel to it :-3

    Anyway enough rambling. Money is tight right now as I'm working to get my license recertified so I can practice again. I will definitely have to give Crazy Fishing a try :-)

    One of the biggest things I can like and dislike about knockoffs is that they will always suck if done improperly. They bring a certain charm to life.

     

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    Vidiot (profile), Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 5:44am

    Cached out

    "...but Ismail's game has the kind of cache that only comes with a tightly developed game..."


    Not being a coder, I'm not really sure how tight development delivers that kind of cache. But I'll bet the game's cachet is something special, too.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 5:44am

    So, out of the asscrack, how many anomalies is that now? Looks like a count of... well, everything.

     

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      PaulT (profile), Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 6:01am

      Re:

      Looks like the tactic is just to dismiss any similarities entirely, and to pretend that the actual design of the game wasn't as important as the fact a celebrity liked it. I'm sure he'll be back to anomalies, deflection and Google conspiracy theories after he's had his coffee...

       

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 5:56am

    By "cache", I guess you mean "cachet".

    Your first paragraph can always be skipped as difficult to parse bombast that not only doesn't introduce the topic, but obscures it.

    Now, has "copycat" anything to do with chronology? -- "Ridiculous Fishing, ... was just a tad late to the iOS market compared with copycat Ninja Fishing."

    Besides being first to market yet deemed "copycat", it seems that "Ninja Fishing" hasn't copied the astounding features of "Ridiculous", so again, how's that being a "copycat" or "clone"? Isn't it just a similar motif?

    Apparently a big factor was luck of being touted by some celebrity: "Elijah Wood played Ridiculous Fishing and tweeted about it."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 6:02am

    How emotions affect your financial decisions?
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/emotions-decisions.html

    I can't say in this case with any certainty, what I can say is that emotions do play a role, and I speculate that in this case good relations with your clients is essential for success as much as being capable to deliver on promises made.

    This is what some people didn't understand yet, there is an emotional component to markets, and when played right you rip positive results, played wrong and you rip those results in spades most certainly. There are some sayings that I can't recall at the moment about how good news are fleeting but bad news are forever or some such.

     

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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 6:08am

    Too Bad Vlambeer Hasn't Learned Anything

    This is a great story and highlights an important lesson in game development. Create the better game experience and you will win. Sadly, Vlambeer has not learned at all from this experience.

    http://randomtower.com/?p=909#comment-13382

     

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      Anonymous Howard (profile), Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 7:23am

      Re: Too Bad Vlambeer Hasn't Learned Anything

      He says "this story could’ve just as well ended with Ridiculous Fishing not releasing at all".

      This doesn't make any sense. How can a competitor cripple a development, when basically they don't earn money yet?

       

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        E. Zachary Knight (profile), Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 8:52am

        Re: Re: Too Bad Vlambeer Hasn't Learned Anything

        In a twitter response to me, he basically said that getting cloned was demoralizing to the effect of nearly shutting down development on the game and killing the company.

        Not even this experience has fully turned him from that.

         

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          John Fenderson (profile), Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 10:39am

          Re: Re: Re: Too Bad Vlambeer Hasn't Learned Anything

          That's really sad, but I understand the emotion.

          However, he should have been aware that copycatting is inevitable. This has been true for the entire history of the software (and every other field), so it's not like he couldn't have seen it coming. If that was something he couldn't emotionally handle, then he should not have released the game.

          The correct way to look at it is that if your efforts are not being copycatted by someone, then what you're making is very likely to be worthless. Seeing a clone validates your efforts.

          Also, just had to throw this in, copying an idea is a long way away from "stealing".

           

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          Rami Ismail, Jul 5th, 2013 @ 1:40pm

          Re: Re: Re: Too Bad Vlambeer Hasn't Learned Anything

          No, because it still did.

           

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      Rami Ismail, Jul 5th, 2013 @ 1:39pm

      Re: Too Bad Vlambeer Hasn't Learned Anything

      Or you've simply failed to understand we don't care about winning. We only cared because they made it important to show the world that cloning gives you an inferior product.

      This whole winning thing tired us out, we just want to make good games. Not better games than someone else, better games than our previous games. You use competition as your driving force, we'll keep our final responsibilities towards our games and fans.

       

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    Shawn H Corey (profile), Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 6:58am

    Why is there a PC on your desktop?

    You know the one thing that sold more PCs for IBM than anything else they did? They released the PC Technical Manual. It told how to build your own PC. Because of it, there were lots of clones. Because there were a lot of clones, a lot of software was written for it. And because there was a lot of software, IBM sold many more PCs.

    Clones simulate the market and because of them, you sell more of the original than would be possible without them.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 10:44am

      Re: Why is there a PC on your desktop?

      IBM long regretted that they were so open with the PC. They only did it that way because they didn't think the thing would actually sell.

      It was great for the industry, and did make IBM a lot of money, but being the dominating evil corporation that they were, all they could see was how much more money they could have made if not for all the knockoffs.

      Of course, they probably would not have made much more money in reality. The IBM PC entered a market that had many equally good Z80 systems already well established. People would likely have just continued buying those.

       

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        PaulT (profile), Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 1:12am

        Re: Re: Why is there a PC on your desktop?

        That mindset is the reason why it's so hard for companies to see the clear precedent out there - not just with the PC but with the open VHS format vs. the closed Betamax, etc., as well as developers for certain types of software. They don't think "wow, look at all the money we made", they think "just think how much *more* we could have made if those other guys didn't get a slice!". The fact that the competing product bolstered the market and made the overall pie bigger tends to elude them.

         

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          Rami Ismail, Jul 5th, 2013 @ 1:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why is there a PC on your desktop?

          Consider that maybe, it has nothing to do with money. We don't care about the money. We just want enough to eat and pay rent. We're just destroyed someone can be as cynical about games as a creative thing and earn a ton of money doing that.

           

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      identicon
      Anonymous, Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 5:05pm

      Re: Why is there a PC on your desktop?

      Well, I originally had it in the bathtub, but that proved to be a shocking experience. Electra-ouch!

       

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    Lurker Keith, Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 7:19pm

    true on consoles too

    This is true w/ console games as well.

    I found a Splinter Cell clone, Rogue Ops, for the GameCube, a few years back. I think I only grabbed it because it was only $10 at an EB Games (can't remember if it was new or used; I got Eternal Darkness new, also for $10, the same day iirc).

    It was fun, but not nearly as good as Splinter Cell.

     

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    Lorne, Jul 2nd, 2013 @ 9:38pm

    Curiously, I just checked the Top Grossing charts on the App Store - seems like Ridiculous Fishing has plummeted. It's now below Ninja Fishing in terms of grossing/revenue for a while.

    How is it "winning" when your game is earning less than your competitor that's been out for more than a year?

     

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      PaulT (profile), Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 1:31am

      Re:

      Do you have accurate figures for how much each game has actually made over time, or are you just guessing based on chart position? It's worth noting that the two have very different business models - Ninja being free to play with in app purchases while Ridiculous is a single upfront payment. So just comparing apparent revenue might not actually be a true comparison of success.

      If Ninja has a hard core of players who pay regularly money for in-app purchases, then that game has a revenue stream that's simply not possible with the Ridiculous business model. Ninja could easily gross more even if Ridiculous has more overall players, and freemium games have a habit of staying longer in the charts anyway due to their constant revenue stream from active players.

      "How is it "winning" when your game is earning less than your competitor that's been out for more than a year?"

      First off, how is the game doing compared to if there was no competition? If both games are doing better than projected, then both games are "winning" - this isn't a zero sum game.

      Secondly, the game has won numerous awards, is one of the best reviewed games of the year and has apparently sold a decent amount of copies. I'd call that "winning" even if someone else out there is also doing well - especially since both games were based off a free Flash game to begin with.

       

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        Rami Ismail, Jul 5th, 2013 @ 1:26pm

        Re: Re:

        Our Flash game, to be precise. But you exactly got the point though: we made the better game, and we call that winning. We'd rather not be working on 'winning' but on making good games, though.

         

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    Samuel Abram (profile), Jul 3rd, 2013 @ 7:40am

    My friend Zach Gage had a hand in it

    Zach Gage, creator of Spell Tower and Bit Pilot, (and the extremely artistic "Lose/Lose" which I advise you NOT TO PLAY) had a hand in Ridiculous Fishing and did a lot of the programming. I've known him for a while and he is extremely talented as a game designer.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 5th, 2013 @ 8:23am

    Mikey

     

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  •  
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    clairek (profile), Jul 12th, 2013 @ 12:16am

    Personal Direct Injury

    There are a lot of aspects that one must learn to understand when it comes to personal injury claim. These concepts are a bit complicated to understand if you will not seek help from people who actually understand such concepts. There are personal injury solicitors who are always willing and ready to explain concepts regarding personal injury claim.

     

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