Apple has removed a number of cloned App Store products from the independent developer Anton Sinelnikov, The Guardian reports.
Sinelnikov is responsible for such products as Plant vs. Zombie, Angry Ninja Birds, Numbers With Friends and Temple Jump - all near-identical copies of major App Store hits.
The games are seemingly designed and named to create confusion at the point of purchase, as evidenced by complaints from dissatisfied customers in user reviews.
Last week, the independent iOS developer David Smith tweeted that Sinelnikov had 68 products on the App store on the morning of February 3, but that number had diminished to just 11 by the end of the day.
However, the notion that Apple's intervention signifies a broad change in policy would be premature. The Guardian also cited Top Best Adult Entertainment as another developer with a portfolio full of thinly veiled copies, and it seems to be unaffected.
Plagiarism and IP violation in mobile and social development has been widely discussed in the last few weeks: Spry Fox has accused 6waves Lolapps of taking core ideas from Triple Town for its recent release Yeti Town, while the week before NimbleBit published an open letter highlighting the similarities between Tiny Tower and Zynga's latest mobile release, Dream Heights.
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Henrique Olifiers, co-founder of the social developer Bossa Studios, claimed that widespread "copycat" design could lead to a situation similar to the Atari crash of the mid-Eighties.
"Social games for me were always on the cutting-edge until they became copycat, and after they became copycat I said, 'Well, this is not going anywhere,'" he said
"This will be like the Atari Eighties crash. Everybody and their grandmother had a version of Space Invaders, and these guys are going to do the same thing."