First, look at the two videos below. See any similarities?
In case it’s not clear: the game on the bottom appears to be a pretty blatant clone of the game on the top. The old-timey washed-out filters, retro graphics and bombastic language of the one lift heavily from the feel of the other. That first game, Luftrausers, comes from indie dev studio Vlambeer. Their most recent release is Ridiculous Fishing, a quirky, fun iOS success that blends shooting and fishing in a really awesome way. But Vlambeer’s triumph came only after the first version of their game — a browser title called Radical Fishing — was copied wholesale by the makers of Ninja Fishing. That game was able to come out on mobile phone digital storeforonts faster than Ridiculous Fishing.
Cloning video games isn’t anything new but it’s seemed to have ramped up in the last few years, especially in the indie game space. Still, you have to feel especially angry on behalf of the folks at Vlambeer. They seem to be irresistible to people looking to pull a fast one on unsuspecting consumers. Still, if Luftrausers is anything like Ridiculous Fishing, it will be a far superior game than the one that attempts to lifts its design and appeal.
Update: As of yet, SkyFar developer RubiqLab hasn't responded to a request for comment from Kotaku. Meanwhile, TouchArcade has comment from Vlambeer about the Luftrausers/SkyFar kerfuffle:
Vlambeer Clone Jam, let's do this.
— Folmer Kelly (@folmerkelly) April 22, 2013
Update 2: RubiqLab has responded to Kotaku. The full message is below, along with the image that was attached in their reply:
Hey..We are a students we have done this game with our own effort of 1 year. Tried a lot of tectonics to make this game on iphone.
Few weeks back 1 guys mailed us like this a clone of our game luftrauser & all. We explained him SkyFar is not cloned from any of the other game. He was like you used our assets of there game. So we explained him Skyfar has own assets with All work file Art, Sound,Codes....etc Soo we thought because some jealous.then we stopped. We used Many tools to finish this game. It took a very long time & a lots of effort to bring it out. In Media most of the things looks similar. Especially in GAMES & MOVIES. They have seen our advertised links recently many times we were publishing. Again they might of jealous.& Really using Bad words. they commenting on our Page,Links with the bad words. I there friend circles, community making all these issues with some 100s of people.
In present-day law, it is upheld that game mechanics of a video game are part of its software, and are generally ineligible for copyright. The United States Copyright Office specifically notes: "Copyright does not protect the idea for a game, its name or title, or the method or methods for playing it. Nor does copyright protect any idea, system, method, device, or trademark material involved in developing, merchandising, or playing a game. Once a game has been made public, nothing in the copyright law prevents others from developing another game based on similar principles.