Stolen Games Exposed on the App Store

There are things in this world that really get my goat. And there are other things in this world that bite off my goat’s head and stuff its blood-spewing neck full of razorblades while listening to the Macarena. Blatant rip-offs fall into the latter category. And so does negligence.

I point the first finger at Apple who, despite subjecting all App Store submissions to an anal retentive approval process, continues to allow crap such as the following into the App Store. I will spend the rest of this article lambasting the disreputable, unscrupulous, thieving developers responsible for the games below.

I encourage all readers to make themselves as obnoxious as possible to these developers. Send them hate mail. Flame their app pages. Lambaste them on forums. At the very least, their apps should be removed from the App Store. Better still, they should find themselves the subjects of lawsuits by the rights-holders upon whom they are infringing. Let us dally no longer! Let the hate list begin!

The first developer on our List of Suck is Kdan Mobile Software LTD. Kdan’s latest release, Plants Defense, is a unabashed rip-off of PopCap GamesPlants Vs. Zombies. Lest ye doubt the truth of my words, let us compare screen captures. First, a promotional image from Plants Defense:

The Accused: Kdan Mobile's Plants Defense
The Accused: Kdan Mobile's Plants Defense

And now, a screen capture of PopCap’s Plants Vs. Zombies:

The Plaintiff: PopCap Games' Plants Vs. Zombies
The Plaintiff: PopCap Games' Plants Vs. Zombies

Need I say more? Plants Vs. Zombies is a brilliant and original defense game for the Mac and PC, and will reportedly be coming to the iPhone before year’s end. Having played the Mac version of the game, I assure you it will be worth the wait. In the meantime, send Kdan Mobile Software some hate-mail.

Next, I present to you Jaouad Slimi’s Indestructible Tank. The developer would be more aptly named Jaouad Slimy, because slimy is what he is for ripping off Indestruc2Tank, a Flash game originally developed by Tony for Armor Games.

For the court’s displeasure, I submit Evidence A, a screen capture from Slimy’s Indestructible Tank:

The Accused: Jaouad Slimi's Indestructible Tank
The Accused: Jaouad Slimi's Indestructible Tank

And Evidence B, a screen capture of Tony’s original (and brilliant) Indestruc2Tank:

The Plaintiff: Armor Games' Indestruc2tank
The Plaintiff: Armor Games' Indestruc2tank

Slimy’s poor imitation of Indestruc2Tank is apparently being published by Pixelka; shame on you, Pixelka! Submit hate mail here.

Here’s one that’s brand-spanking-new and straight-up rip-off: Walnut JZ‘s Aerial Wonderland, a shameless knockoff of FDG Entertainment’s brilliant and quirky Parachute Panic. I needn’t even make a case for this one; they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case I’m inclined to let the pictures do the talking. Behold:

Walnut JZ's "Aerial Wonderland" (left), a poor imitation of FDG Entertainment's "Parachute Panic" (right).
Walnut JZ's "Aerial Wonderland" (left), a poor imitation of FDG Entertainment's "Parachute Panic" (right).

Walnut JZ’s website is mostly in Chinese, but it looks like you can post your hate mail to this page by clicking the link to the far right at the bottom of the “Support” post.

Next up in our rogue’s gallery, PlayMesh. It’s bad enough that the company repackages the same game again and again with different artwork, and then tries to nickle’n dime players nearly to death, all but requiring the purchase of additional PlayMesh Points to make any progress with your characters. In their game — and I use the term “game” very loosely here — Ninjas III, they shamelessly rip-off artwork of the Tenchu series’ Rikimaru. Once more, let us compare:

Artwork from PlayMesh's Ninjas III (left) and Rikimaru, from the Tenchu series (right).
Artwork from PlayMesh's Ninjas III (left) and Rikimaru, from the Tenchu series (right).

See how Rikimaru stares death into the back of the PlayMesh ninja’s head, gripping his sword in bloody anticipation? It’s because he knows he has been wronged. No one wrongs Rikimaru and lives. Loyal readers, strike PlayMesh where it hurts.

Our final two rogues have seemingly corrected their misbehavior. It’s too bad really; I’ve some buckshot left. They’ll not get off scot-free, however. Although they may have amended their evil ways, we will at least draw reference to their criminal record.

When Kies DanielsVisitors first hit the App Store, it prominently featured artwork stolen from The Behemoth’s NewGrounds Flash game turned console success story Alien Hominid. The game has since been re-released with presumably original art, as shown in this makeover image:

Left: Visitors, with artwork stolen from Alien Hominid. Right: Visitors, revised and re-released with presumably original artwork.
Left: Visitors, with artwork stolen from Alien Hominid. Right: Visitors, revised and re-released with presumably original artwork.

Last, but not least, A. Kurulenko‘s Freakbike. When first released, the game featured the unauthorized use of Brad Borne‘s Flash-game character Fancy Pants Man. I blew the whistle on this one when I saw it and emailed Brad. I can only assume he took action, because Freakbike has now been reissued with more generic artwork, as pictured:

Freakbike's first release included the unauthorized use of Brad Borne's Fancy Pants Man (left), while recent Freakbike updates have replaced the character with a more generic design.
Freakbike's first release included the unauthorized use of Brad Borne's Fancy Pants Man (left), while recent Freakbike updates have replaced the character with a more generic design.

And that concludes our List of Suck, comprising iPhone game developers who have shamelessly copied others’ game ideas and concepts. Apps such as these should not be allowed in the App Store, should be weeded out during Apple’s approval process. And yet they have slipped through. And these are only the games I have found; there may be others. Remain vigilant and ever watchful, readers. And when you see thievery taking place, blow the whistle on it. Alert the original content owners, and blast the offenders. Get Apple’s attention if you can. Don’t let it stand.

If you know of other rip-offs in the App Store, let’s hear about them. Post comments, or light up the forums with the flames of your rage!

Editor’s Note: This article marks the beginning of our Editorials category.  Look for more articles tackling theft on the app store and other topics from the rest of our staff.

2 thoughts on “Stolen Games Exposed on the App Store

  1. Since the “look and feel” provision of U.S. copyright law was lifted in the ’80s, most– if not all– of these games are perfectly legal, albeit not ethical.

  2. Fair enough @Christopher. It’s still disheartening to see blatant ripoffs filling up the app store and creating additional noise when trying to look for original apps. It’s one story when an app takes the idea of the original and improves upon it like Harbor Master, but outright copies are frustrating to see.

    U.S. law or not, the invisible fist of Apple governs the app store. Remember the story about StoneLoops getting pulled from the app store? Luxor’s official complaint to Apple included “…confusing customers, stealing Luxor’s look & feel…”. I think these games would fit in that category.

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