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Hand Circus founder questions Gameloft stance

Fri 14 Jan 2011 12:26pm GMT / 7:26am EST / 4:26am PST
MobileDevelopment

Simon Oliver points to hypocrisy of CEO's statements on low prices and copycat design

Hand Circus founder Simon Oliver has pointed out the hypocrisy of Gameloft's Michel Guillemot's stance on EA's App Store price slashing, issuing a reminder that Gameloft itself has been guilty of the very same thing.

Speaking in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz which will be published in full on Monday, Oliver made clear that he believes Guillemot is guilty of the self-same tactics which he lambasted EA for when speaking in an interview earlier this week.

Guillemot had expressed concern that EA had "subsidised" a hefty price cut to a number of titles to make sure that it held a number of prominent spots on the App Store over Christmas, saying that it made it "harder for smaller companies".

"Gameloft were the original price slashers," Oliver told GamesIndustry.biz. "When the price point started to slip from £9.99 they were the ones that changed prices for games like Let's Golf, which I think went down to £3.99. So that's exactly what they did."

Guillemot also defended Gameloft's practice of taking heavy inspiration from successful titles on other platforms for many of its mobile games, effectively saying that the company had a duty to spread good ideas.

Oliver, like many, would rather see a level of respect which allows innovation and inspiration to co-exist, avoiding the sort of actions which have put Capcom in hot water this week without being overly restrictive.

"I think you only need to look at the Tim Langdell case to see what can happen at the other end of the spectrum. When people are able to squat on a trademark, to abuse the system to that extent, you can see how it might work if more restrictive controls were implemented. It's really, really hard. There's no right answer to whether you need to have more robust controls, especially in an area that's moving so quickly," Oliver explained.

"There's definitely an ethical responsibility not to completely rip off someone else's work, but I'm very keen to avoid a situation where there's that level of protection so that we don't spawn a thousand Tim Langdells, or when we get the sort of situations which you do in the US with patent trolls sitting on an idea and creating companies to purely exploit intellectual property.

"You'd hope that this would come out amongst consumers, you'd hope that if a company has a reputation for bad business practice, that would trickle down and give them a bad reputation with consumers."

7 Comments

You'd hope that it would trickle down to consumers but it really doesn't seem too, even app review sites often dont raise the questions. There doesn't seem to be many ethical guidelines in place amongst reviewers.

But bravo Simon for getting the word out that other app developers like ourselves believe in and bravo to GI for quality journalism.

Looking forward to the full interview.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Maxwell Scott-Slade on 14th January 2011 2:48pm

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Jörg Tittel
Writer, Director, Producer

3 0 0.0
While I commend Simon for speaking out against Gameloft's shrewd business and "creative" tactics, Tim Langdell, a freak and ultimately ridiculous example of trademark squatting, is the least of the App Store's problems.

The most worrying development is that established and well funded companies steal other people's ideas and get even richer on them. And most of them not only get away, but also get massive support from the press and blogosphere. Look at average scores for Gameloft titles, for instance, and you'll see that open, ruthless plagiarism is practically celebrated and encouraged by the "media."

Capcom's Maxplosion, a ridiculously obvious - and badly executed - copy of Twisted Pixel's Splosion Man, for instance, is the latest disgraceful example...

That said, since Gameloft shamelessly copied Capcom's Resident Evil 5 with Zombie Infection, the fine people at Capcom must probably think that idea and IP theft are fair game on Apple's platforms.

One hurdle in combatting such disgusting behaviour is that the budgets of iOS apps are still relatively small, and only few people will dare to take any IP battles to court... since the money required to do so would easily match development budgets and waste precious time.

It looks like only one party is sure to win in the end: Apple Inc.

The rest of us have to fend for ourselves and strive to work with the right people to avoid being raped and pillaged or eaten by idealess vultures in this Wild Wild App Store West.

Posted:3 years ago

#2

Stephen Northcott
Senior Consulting Engineer

76 0 0.0
It would be interesting to see how philosophical Capcom are in the future if say one or two of their titles got ripped off....

As for the race to the bottom on pricing by big publishers. The moment they moved into the App Store with their huge marketing budgets, skewed media influence, and crappy advertise-ware games was probably the lowest point of the App Store to date.

Posted:3 years ago

#3
These topics certainly need more attention from the games press, no doubt its on every indie developers mind. Its bad enough seeing the copy cat games from small developers, let alone these titans. Good to see it being brought up

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Christopher Pickford
Producer

53 58 1.1
With Apple themselves policing the app store entirely, you'd hope they could step in here and act as arbitrator for these kind of disputes without the need of expensive legal fees, etc...

Of course that begs the question why would they bother.

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Stephen Northcott
Senior Consulting Engineer

76 0 0.0
I can actually speak from personal experience on Apple's "involvement" in those sorts of issues, having been through it myself.

Basically once legal action starts they take you down. End of story.
I never got to that stage however. But that was all that Apple would confirm to me when I asked them for some kind of pointer as to what they would do in any case. Obviously I didn't feel I was in breach, but they simply were not interested in either sides version, as far as I can tell. As has been mentioned on other blogs elsewhere on the internet, that's fine if a company is taking 5 or 10% of your sales, but when they are taking 30% and barely responding to any communication from their "business partners" that is disappointing.

Prior to any black and white legal claim they basically badly copy paste boilerplate legalese from their own T&Cs which tell you that you should have made sure you weren't violating any IP, and you need to indemnify them against any action by carrying out enough due diligence when publishing. i.e. Not their problem. Regardless of whether you are being rightly or wrongly accused. They really are not interested either way, only in protecting themselves from any fall out.

So basically whoever has the most clout, biggest stick, deepest pockets in Apple's eye's will win in the App Store.

In the end in my case I simply dealt directly with the company concerned and came to a mutual agreement.
I sent a courtesy email to Apple legal after the whole dispute was over and didn't even receive a reply from them to that one.

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Jeremy Glazman
Programmer

28 4 0.1
Good on Oliver for speaking up about something that's fairly obvious to App Store developers, but for some reason the games media routinely fails to comment on. Cloning is rampant off the charts on the App Store (even Angry Birds had at least one predecessor in Digital Chocolate's Crazy Penguin Catapult). I guess there's just too many titles out there, and the App Store interface is too poor, to really keep track of who ripped off who.

I've seen this first hand, with Gameloft 'negotiating' with us for months about a title, gladly accepting several pre-release builds for review, that eventually they decided to pass on, only to reveal just weeks later a near exact clone of our game. The biggest difference between us and them is they get invited to show their games on stage alongside Steve Jobs, while we could barely afford a marketing budget at all.

Gameloft is pretty much the Zynga of the App Store.

Posted:3 years ago

#7

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