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Donut County developer speaks out on frustration of app store clones

Ben Esposito says learning of a F2P clone just before his game's release "stings"

The App Store and Google Play are riddled with clones of known titles, and if those titles make it big, it can have a harmful effect on the original developers.

Developer Ben Esposito brought this issue up today after seeing a clone of his upcoming game, Donut County.

In a Twitter statement, Esposito said he had been made aware of a game called "hole.io" by Voodoo that is currently topping the free app charts on the App Store. The game uses the same premise as Donut County: you play as a hole in the ground that goes around swallowing things up, and you compete with other players per the .io game format.

Esposito isn't the only indie developer who has run into this situation. Voodoo has published games similar to existing ones before (Infinite Golf, The Fish Master are examples) and the practice is common throughout the App Store and Google Play. But Esposito was prompted to speak due to Voodoo's recent reception of a $200 million investment from Goldman Sachs, intended to rapidly grow Voodoo's business and allow it to partner with more developers.

Donut County hasn't been released yet, so this similar game topping the charts before it is out has potential to detract attention from Esposito's game, even if the latter ends up (as described) far deeper.

Esposito does believe that "There's enough room for both games on the app store," but acknowledges that Voodoo's quick, F2P creation of a game riffing off his idea "stings a little after 5+ years of convincing people a game about a hole in the ground is a good idea."

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Rebekah Valentine avatar

Rebekah Valentine

Senior Staff Writer

Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.

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