Apple removes cloned games from App Store

Indie dev Anton Sinelnikov targeted for direct copies of popular releases

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, 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."

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Latest comments (12)

K. Al-Hurby Producer/Designer 9 years ago

I absolutely hate these straight off the bat copycat companies that ride from other studio's successful titles by ripping them off. Granted, I'm a firm supporter of: you can take inspiration from an idea and spin in your own way to try and make the experience better - after all, it’s next to impossible to create a truly All-new original ip without your influences subcutaneously interfering … But Plant vs Zombie and Angry ninja Birds... I mean really? What’s next? Cutting the rope? It blows my mind how long it took apple to take action on stuff like this.

Good riddance!
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Mark Nelson Games/Level Designers 9 years ago
How about "Cut thee Rope..."
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Aaron Bauer Producer / Designer, Babaroga, LLC9 years ago
The copycat apps is a major problem, to be sure, but I don't see it leading to another "industry crash" like in '83-'84. The digital space allows for infinite "shelving", so limited inventory space doesn't lead to bargain bins/clearance for the worthwhile games. And modern consumers are smart enough to know that some crappy apps doesn't mean the end of the "gaming fad" or that they should jump ship like in the 80s, because the good ones are still there and holding strong.

Over-saturation and poor production quality in apps should certainly be addressed, but with the high-quality titles still available it will just result in a smarter, more concerning, consumer.

So, I don't think copycats will crash the market, but they should still be removed for copyright infringement. "Temple Jump" and the like are just so....blatantly slimy.
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Show all comments (12)
Mike Amerson President & Co-Founder, Wet productions Inc9 years ago
I'm glad this was covered. Plagerism is running rampart and bad dev's are riding the coat tails of others. Apple needed to intervene, it is their duty to regulate and maintain order in the system. Play by the rules or get the boot.
I agree with Aaron on that it won't crash the industry.
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Todd Hooper CEO, Zipline games9 years ago
Trademark ripoffs like this do seem to be beyond the pale - bad for players and bad for the industry. I'm a bit surprised it took Apple this long.
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Adrian Cummings Founder and Owner, Mobile Amusements9 years ago
I'm not sure what would happen now then if I did Angry Birds Slots. Prolly due to the brands size alone I would be chinned (fair enough) But it gets bendy... There is some rpg thing live on the store called Castle Kingdom already but I've just released Castle Kingdoms Slots on which I claim prior art back to in name if nothing else to an Amiga title I published commercially on my own label in 1997. I don't mind them already using it but amounts the same thing as the former Angry Birds Slots no? ergo I think if you have a big brand and cash people will get spooked a little and takedowns happen on the store. If your brand is very tiny nobody cares. I for one find this senario very odd and legally very grey indeed. The same thing happened to me with Doodlebug and Doodlejump but I was left alone after it emerged that I had prior art from 1992 on the title as the author. I mean do some of these people not even use Google before they twat yer goods and claim they did it all first in name if nothing else - madness! It must all be about how much consumer exposure your app is getting for Apple before they act on the copyright infringement eject button.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Adrian Cummings on 6th February 2012 8:54pm

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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 9 years ago
It will be interesting to see where the line is drawn over the long run. Plant vs Zombie might be very close to a trademark, but what happens to all the functional clones, or when somebody reskins it to Garden Gnomes vs. Robots?
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises9 years ago
I don't know, one plant vs one zombie sounds like a good game for when you're too tired or too drunk to handle multiple plants and zombies.
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James Verity9 years ago
bet they don't cull the bigger named companies software for copying others ideas
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Patrick Day-Childs Features Writer, Pixel Enemy9 years ago
It's really unfair to designers and developers who work on the original games, I'm not too sure what David Roberts would think about it, he's too nice!
But regardless, it's good news - though they can learn from it "Ninja Angry Birds"? So let players change the skin of the birds...
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Falko Boecker Licensing Manager, Gamigo AG9 years ago
@Klaus: But where do you draw the line there? "Plant vs. Zombie" was obviously created to be mistaken for the original and thus bought unintentionally. It is overall a weird grey area, in which everything Tetris (Tetris LLC. states, that they get everything removed which features "blocks" and ends in "tris") get's kicked out, but there are a million Breakout-Clones. I think patents on game elements (i.e. Sega Crazy Taxi Arrow Patent) are hurting the industry more than it helps the inventors of these elements. I think, as long as you a)Don't copy assets/code directly from another game or b)Don't try to make a customer mistake your game for another popular one, it should be fair game.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 9 years ago
Apple seem to be applying the common law tort of Passing Off.
From Wiki: "Passing off prevents one person from misrepresenting his or her goods or services as being the goods and services of the claimant, and also prevents one person from holding out his or her goods or services as having some association or connection with the plaintiff when this is not true."
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