Revered indie studio Vlambeer has called on the game industry to unite against cloning, saying plagiarism "damages people, not just studios" and that, unless more is done to combat the practice, it will "lead to a loss of faith in the industry."
Speaking at GDC in San Francisco yesterday, the studio's Rami Ismail and Jan Willem Nijman said cloning causes innovation to stagnate, holding the industry back as player expectations are lowered.
"We got cloned," Ismail said, according to Develop. "That kind of dropped us into a discussion about cloning, but we discovered that a discussion about cloning is kind of dead. Cloning hurts the industry and the discussion on clones has completely stalemated."
Nijman warned that failure to act would "lead to a loss of faith in the industry," and added: "Clones damage people, not just studios. A lot of great game designers get fucked over all the time."
The cloning debate has found renewed prominence in 2012 after Zynga was accused of ripping off Nimblebit's Tiny Tower with its mobile game Dream Heights. Spry Fox is suing 6waves Lolapps, claiming it cloned Triple Town with Yeti Town, and the two cases have sparked debate on how independent developers can better protect themselves against the threat of plagiarism.
The solution, Ismail said, is to raise awareness of the practice; not to demonise it, but make it irrelevant by helping all concerned realise its damaging effects.