iOS Game Takes Mario Knockoffs to The Next Level

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iOS Game Takes Mario Knockoffs to The Next Level

3D Cartoon Land: Safari does the Mario.

Apple's app store isn't the only digital distribution platform facing a scourge of knockoffs and imitation games, but the iDevice's market dominance makes the app store a popular target for unscrupulous bootleggers.

Chinese developer, Jiang Zhi, is keeping the proud tradition of shameless rip-offs alive with 3D Cartoon Land: Safari, a game which looks like a creepy pod-person-version of Super Mario 3D Land.

Jiang Zhi is presumably hoping the small changes it's made to Mario's visual formula will protect it from Nintendo's legal wrath, but instead it just makes the entire game seem profoundly wrong in a David Lynch kind of way. Koopa Troopers are now "angry tortoises," the ? boxes that litter the Mushroom Kingdom have been replaced with ! boxes (subtle) and the central character looks like Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs wearing Mario's skin as a coat. Eurogamer described the game's Goombah stand-ins as "small shuffling pine cones," but to my jaded eye they look like butt plugs that have just gained sentience and figured out what their role in life is.

Believe it or not, this is actually a step down the copyright infringement ladder for Jiang Zhi. The developer's library includes such classics as Fury Birds, Line Ski, Cube Craft, Angry Pigs and, my personal favorite, God of Warriors, which includes the most hilariously chill picture of Kratos you'll ever see.

3D Cartoon Land: Safari is available on iOS for 96p, but I wouldn't count on it being available for long.

Source: Eurogamer

Permalink

Yeah... If Nintendo forced the Legend of Zelda Total War mod to go offline, this isn't going to last a week.

Edit - I'm wrong about this. I had bad information stored in my traitorous 3am brain.

Sooo...it's Super Mario 3D Land for 96p? That is a bargain if I ever saw one, considering SM3DL is like 50 quid.

It's so unique it's as innovative as final combat.

I love having a yahtzee avatar.

The problem with intellectual property and copyright: competition can't compete to offer the same experience. I'd actually like it a lot of copyright went away and people could out-and-out clone products. The big guys might hate it and throw a tantrum, but people could offer the Mario experience (for example) cheaper, better and more often.

Game A not on the system you own? Someone can port it for you.

Game B too much? Someone will make it and sell it cheaper.

Game C have too many bugs? Someone will make a smoother version.

Boudica:
The problem with intellectual property and copyright: competition can't compete to offer the same experience. I'd actually like it a lot of copyright went away and people could out-and-out clone products. The big guys might hate it and throw a tantrum, but people could offer the Mario experience (for example) cheaper, better and more often.

Game A not on the system you own? Someone can port it for you.

Game B too much? Someone will make it and sell it cheaper.

Game C have too many bugs? Someone will make a smoother version.

We aren't talking of making a game similar to Mario style platformer but a complete ripoff. I'll bet if you were to compare the coding between this knock off and the original Mario game there would be allot of similarities due to Jiang Zhi pulling code wholesale from the Mario title.

That said, Apples patent war with Samsung is a dire warning about patent misuse.

Captcha: good riddance

I'm kind of disappointed in the Nintendo copy protection, usually it takes way longer to get a working version of the game that doesn't fold in on itself, especially since the 3ds is much more inaccessible than the ds was as far as messing around with the code goes.

I accidentally a whole post

edit: accidentally two posts it seems

made all the more amusing due the username of the person who posted before me XD

can a mod delete this? computer messed up

Boudica:
The problem with intellectual property and copyright: competition can't compete to offer the same experience. I'd actually like it a lot of copyright went away and people could out-and-out clone products. The big guys might hate it and throw a tantrum, but people could offer the Mario experience (for example) cheaper, better and more often.

Game A not on the system you own? Someone can port it for you.

Game B too much? Someone will make it and sell it cheaper.

Game C have too many bugs? Someone will make a smoother version.

There's a deference between,

"Mario is a good game. Let's make a game like it."
"Mario is a good game. Let's copy it and change a few names and graphics"

Eric the Orange:

Boudica:
The problem with intellectual property and copyright: competition can't compete to offer the same experience. I'd actually like it a lot of copyright went away and people could out-and-out clone products. The big guys might hate it and throw a tantrum, but people could offer the Mario experience (for example) cheaper, better and more often.

Game A not on the system you own? Someone can port it for you.

Game B too much? Someone will make it and sell it cheaper.

Game C have too many bugs? Someone will make a smoother version.

There's a deference between,

"Mario is a good game. Let's make a game like it."
"Mario is a good game. Let's copy it and change a few names and graphics"

Yes. Yes there is. I am aware of that.

I'd actually like it a lot of copyright went away and people could out-and-out clone products.

They should of gone with the whole psychotic plumber who hunts down his foes and gets their power from wearing their skin angle..

Boudica:
snip

So you think that people should be able to change a few things and make money off of other people work while only doing a little themselves?

Eric the Orange:

Boudica:
snip

So you think that people should be able to change a few things and make money off of other people work while only doing a little themselves?

Yes. I do. I believe in a truly free market, where individuals have choice and the only way to ensure you, as a business, are making money, is to offer your product or service better than everyone else. No more cornering the market or locking down a patent to bring in the money.

In this example, if someone can give me Mario cheaper, faster or otherwise better, they win. Nintendo couldn't simply rely on them being the only ones allowed to sell "Mario." I don't like Mario, so it's a bit of a shitty example, but you get the idea. 360 red-ring? Another company will make ones that don't. Bad EA customer service? Another company will give you the same product with better attitudes. Etc., etc.

Boudica:
snip

If I understand you correctly, you're arguing for a sort of Laissez-fair market. I can see the merits of that: inferior products would be culled from the market by consumer arbitration and we would get eventually get better versions of the product. The invisible hand of the market would naturally shape our games so that we get the best there is.

You would still have to deal with some other problems. A shady developer, for instance, could just rip the textures from an existing game and use it in his own. You also have the situation where developers copy ideas blatantly, and the shear volume of shoddy product hides any novel ideas or good implementations. One could argue that the existence of Shooter Season 2012 shows that this sort of thing happens anyway, but it you look at Chinese markets, where copyright laws are much more lenient, you see that it's almost impossible to find anything decent because you have to wade through all the useless trash.

I'd also say a well worded copyright law is essential to promote innovation. Legitimate developers are more likely to produce novel content if they know that some shady character won't just take all his work, copy it over the weekend, and sell it at a much lower price on the same market. Note that it's much easier to copy a winning formula than it is to write it from scratch.

I don't think the system we have now is perfect, not by a long shot. Things like Nintendo stopping the Legend of Zelda Total war mod and the stopping of the Lord of the Rings mod for Skyrim shows that copyright can impede innovation, but I think it's better than the current alternatives.

As for this guy:
I can't see him getting very far with this game. It looks like a watered down Mario, and it'll probably disappear shortly. Still, he'll probably make a reasonable profit on it because it likely didn't cost too much to make. That's rather unfortunate because this sort of cash and grab shouldn't be encouraged.

cookyt:
A shady developer, for instance, could just rip the textures from an existing game and use it in his own.

You say that like it's a bad thing :P

I support communist, so perhaps my ideals for society don't align with many others', making it hard for us to see eye to eye.

Grey Carter:
Eurogamer described the game's Goombah stand-ins as "small shuffling pine cones," but to my jaded eye they look like butt plugs that have just gained sentience and figured out what their role in life is.

Great now you've rectum for everyone :(

Boudica:

cookyt:
A shady developer, for instance, could just rip the textures from an existing game and use it in his own.

You say that like it's a bad thing :P

I support communist, so perhaps my ideals for society don't align with many others', making it hard for us to see eye to eye.

Well I think it's a bad thing because.

1) The developer who ripped the textures didn't incur any costs for making them. On its own, maybe it's not too bad, but when you have 50 games going around with similar mechanics, all using the same textures, but only one is actually any fun, it's easier for a consumer to write off the lot of them instead of looking through to find the good one. This assumes that the copies would be inferior, which might not be the case, but usually is because anyone who would rip textures from a game to lower development costs probably isn't looking to craft the best experience.

2) If I'm an artist who writes textures for games, seeing lots of games using my textures without paying me for them disincentives me from drawing textures for new games. If this sort of behavior causes my studio to close, then society, as a whole, looses out.

Just because you're communist doesn't mean we can't argue over ideals. We might even come upon an agreement if our logic is sound. I try to come into these things with an open mind. The results are up for debate :)

cookyt:

Boudica:

cookyt:
A shady developer, for instance, could just rip the textures from an existing game and use it in his own.

You say that like it's a bad thing :P

I support communist, so perhaps my ideals for society don't align with many others', making it hard for us to see eye to eye.

Well I think it's a bad thing because.

1) The developer who ripped the textures didn't incur any costs for making them. On its own, maybe it's not too bad, but when you have 50 games going around with similar mechanics, all using the same textures, but only one is actually any fun, it's easier for a consumer to write off the lot of them instead of looking through to find the good one. This assumes that the copies would be inferior, which might not be the case, but usually is because anyone who would rip textures from a game to lower development costs probably isn't looking to craft the best experience.

2) If I'm an artist who writes textures for games, seeing lots of games using my textures without paying me for them disincentives me from drawing textures for new games. If this sort of behavior causes my studio to close, then society, as a whole, looses out.

Just because you're communist doesn't mean we can't argue over ideals. We might even come upon an agreement if our logic is sound. I try to come into these things with an open mind. The results are up for debate :)

I don't think so. Debate never actually changes anyone's mind, it's simply a forum for opposing views to state their cases and then argue why the other is wrong. We're talking about beliefs and morals that run deeper than simple "right and wrong," like convincing someone Earth isn't actually flat. The changing of complex opinion is a slow, painful process that takes place over a long period. At best you can only hope for mutual apathy in the short term.

That One Six:
Yeah... If Nintendo forced the Legend of Zelda Total War mod to go offline, this isn't going to last a week.

The mod is still up and running... it was updated just 11 hours ago.

Boudica:

cookyt:
A shady developer, for instance, could just rip the textures from an existing game and use it in his own.

You say that like it's a bad thing :P

I support communist, so perhaps my ideals for society don't align with many others', making it hard for us to see eye to eye.

I fail to see how communism and letting people make inferior clones of established ideas corroborate with on another.

As @cookyt has already said, what you've described is a Laissez-faire market, which in itself is probably the truest form of free market capitalism.

What allowing everyone to create knock-offs would do is bring down the value of the original product to such a low degree that it would become no longer profitable to purchase an original.

In a perfect world, allowing people to make knock offs willy nilly would be great if the vast majority of knock offs were made better than the original product. The problem with the Laissez-faire system is that people don't do that. They instead make the product as cheap as possible and hinge on the hope that the familiar idea will help them make a profit.

Most people would rather have a good original product over a barely functioning copy. Now I admit that copyright laws need a massive reconstruction, but letting everyone make a cheap copy of everything isn't the way to do it.

nikki191:
They should of gone with the whole psychotic plumber who hunts down his foes and gets their power from wearing their skin angle..

Oh god, I just thought of the Tanooki Suit

image

The horror, THE HORROR!

AzrealMaximillion:
I fail to see how communism and letting people make inferior clones of established ideas corroborate with on another.

It's a good thing I never said anything about inferior clones.

Boudica:
Offer your product or service better than everyone else.

AzrealMaximillion:
What allowing everyone to create knock-offs would do is bring down the value of the original product to such a low degree that it would become no longer profitable to purchase an original.

And? What about being original is more important than better products and service for the customer? You made a statement and didn't actually say why that matters. Answer: because it doesn't.

AzrealMaximillion:
They instead make the product as cheap as possible and hinge on the hope that the familiar idea will help them make a profit.

Most people would rather have a good original product over a barely functioning copy.

If the product is bad, people won't buy it. If the product is a success, the people are to blame, as they are the ones that chose to support it. You can't have it both ways, either the market dictates what is good or it doesn't. if they support it, they made that decision. It's the same as the hordes of people complaining now about how bad various video game companies and services are; if you pay for "good enough" you have only yourself to blame. Or would you (the hypothetical you, not actually you) like to blame the "dumb card" and say the market confused you? In which case, give me back your driver's license and never have children.

AzrealMaximillion:
Letting everyone make a cheap copy of everything isn't the way to do it.

Again, nothing about my statement has anything to do with "cheap knockoffs." You're creating a straw man and you are failing at it.

I doubt people would have much drive to create anything original anymore if everyone would be able to take the fruit of the original guys work and profit off it. The original inventor would never get a dime when the consumers would just wait for the 100 knockoffs to roll to the market and pick what's the best.

Boudica:

Eric the Orange:

Boudica:
snip

So you think that people should be able to change a few things and make money off of other people work while only doing a little themselves?

Yes. I do. I believe in a truly free market, where individuals have choice and the only way to ensure you, as a business, are making money, is to offer your product or service better than everyone else. No more cornering the market or locking down a patent to bring in the money.

In this example, if someone can give me Mario cheaper, faster or otherwise better, they win. Nintendo couldn't simply rely on them being the only ones allowed to sell "Mario." I don't like Mario, so it's a bit of a shitty example, but you get the idea. 360 red-ring? Another company will make ones that don't. Bad EA customer service? Another company will give you the same product with better attitudes. Etc., etc.

You sound like Ayn Rand on drugs. What's the incentive for anyone to try and produce a Mario Game anymore if it will just get ripped off by someone else. The free market can never work if basic property rights are not enforced, that's econ 101.

OlasDAlmighty:

Boudica:

Eric the Orange:

So you think that people should be able to change a few things and make money off of other people work while only doing a little themselves?

Yes. I do. I believe in a truly free market, where individuals have choice and the only way to ensure you, as a business, are making money, is to offer your product or service better than everyone else. No more cornering the market or locking down a patent to bring in the money.

In this example, if someone can give me Mario cheaper, faster or otherwise better, they win. Nintendo couldn't simply rely on them being the only ones allowed to sell "Mario." I don't like Mario, so it's a bit of a shitty example, but you get the idea. 360 red-ring? Another company will make ones that don't. Bad EA customer service? Another company will give you the same product with better attitudes. Etc., etc.

You sound like Ayn Rand on drugs. What's the incentive for anyone to try and produce a Mario Game anymore if it will just get ripped off by someone else. The free market can never work if basic property rights are not enforced, that's econ 101.

Because no one ever makes anything if they aren't going to make billions of dollars or be the only ones to do it, amirite.

Heads up: open your comment with a inane jab and be prepared to be thoroughly ignored from then on.

Boudica:
Because no one ever makes anything if they aren't going to make billions of dollars or be the only ones to do it, amirite.

Heads up: open your comment with a inane jab and be prepared to be thoroughly ignored from then on.

So.... what, developers should just go out of their way creating games for us out of the goodness of their heart? When they have absolutely no clue whether they'll make even a dime of their work? It's not about whether they can still make billions or millions or any specific amount of money, it's about fairness and rewarding engenuity and creativity over theivery and forgery.
And no, your system flat out would not work. I imagine 90% of gaming developers would either go out of business, or switch to some other market that they could actually function as a business in. I find socialism/communism to be a cute ideal, and in a world of pure angels it might be a sustainable system, but we live in the real world.

Boudica:

OlasDAlmighty:

Boudica:
Yes. I do. I believe in a truly free market, where individuals have choice and the only way to ensure you, as a business, are making money, is to offer your product or service better than everyone else. No more cornering the market or locking down a patent to bring in the money.

In this example, if someone can give me Mario cheaper, faster or otherwise better, they win. Nintendo couldn't simply rely on them being the only ones allowed to sell "Mario." I don't like Mario, so it's a bit of a shitty example, but you get the idea. 360 red-ring? Another company will make ones that don't. Bad EA customer service? Another company will give you the same product with better attitudes. Etc., etc.

You sound like Ayn Rand on drugs. What's the incentive for anyone to try and produce a Mario Game anymore if it will just get ripped off by someone else. The free market can never work if basic property rights are not enforced, that's econ 101.

Because no one ever makes anything if they aren't going to make billions of dollars or be the only ones to do it, amirite.

Heads up: open your comment with a inane jab and be prepared to be thoroughly ignored from then on.

Here's a good example. Let's say you have an idea for a new invention. You work tirelessly for years to perfect the design. You finally get it out there, and it's a success. But then, some shady "inventor", figures out how you built it, and makes an exact replica. The only thing he did that is diffrent was attach an extra device (that does next to nothing), thereby making it a better quality machine, even though it is still your design. He renames it, markets it for less money, and makes a fortune off of your hard work. Now, according to what you've been saying, he should be allowed to do that, even though it was all (except for the extra device), all your work.

RandomMan01:

Boudica:

OlasDAlmighty:

You sound like Ayn Rand on drugs. What's the incentive for anyone to try and produce a Mario Game anymore if it will just get ripped off by someone else. The free market can never work if basic property rights are not enforced, that's econ 101.

Because no one ever makes anything if they aren't going to make billions of dollars or be the only ones to do it, amirite.

Heads up: open your comment with a inane jab and be prepared to be thoroughly ignored from then on.

Here's a good example. Let's say you have an idea for a new invention. You work tirelessly for years to perfect the design. You finally get it out there, and it's a success. But then, some shady "inventor", figures out how you built it, and makes an exact replica. The only thing he did that is diffrent was attach an extra device (that does next to nothing), thereby making it a better quality machine, even though it is still your design. He renames it, markets it for less money, and makes a fortune off of your hard work. Now, according to what you've been saying, he should be allowed to do that, even though it was all (except for the extra device), all your work.

He doesn't need to add anything to it, no. If he/she can work out how to make your product and offers it at better quality and/or cheaper and/or with better service? Awesome. If not, I'll buy from the original creator.

Boudica:

It's a good thing I never said anything about inferior clones.

Boudica:
Offer your product or service better than everyone else.

Point missed. See, we already have a country on this planet that has a market that you've described. Its called China. You may not have said anything about inferior clones, but that's the kind of clone that is going to be made. If you have to resources to make a clone that is better than the original idea, why not create an original or even similar idea instead of a clone?

Most clones are poor in quality, this is not disputable.

And? What about being original is more important than better products and service for the customer? You made a statement and didn't actually say why that matters. Answer: because it doesn't.

I guess I'll have to spoon feed you all the answers then. Being original, especially in these days, is a testament to the dedication that you have to give your customer the best product you can in a certain way. Being stagnant is view negatively.

Look at what happened to Guitar Hero. 23 Spinoffs within 5 years was what killed that craze. Profit wasn't even made off of the franchise due to excessive milkage. Look at how Call of Duty is looked upon now. Making clones of the same product bores customers and pushes them away. Even if the product is functionally great, if its almost exactly the same as its predecessor/original and has been year after year, people tend to grow a negative viewpoint of it. This is why a Laissez-Faire market doesn't work for most products. People always want new things. Originality matter. Similarities are great too, but to say that originality isn't important is foolish.

If the product is bad, people won't buy it. If the product is a success, the people are to blame, as they are the ones that chose to support it. You can't have it both ways, either the market dictates what is good or it doesn't. if they support it, they made that decision. It's the same as the hordes of people complaining now about how bad various video game companies and services are; if you pay for "good enough" you have only yourself to blame. Or would you (the hypothetical you, not actually you) like to blame the "dumb card" and say the market confused you? In which case, give me back your driver's license and never have children.

See, your taking a very instant gratification look at the market. Yes, if the product is bad people will not buy it, but that doesn't help your point. Your not taking into account franchises over time.

My point is that if the product is a clone and not as good, it will not sell. Again, look at Guitar Hero and Call of Duty. People were given the same game over and over again at such a high rate that interest nosedived instead of gradually going down. Call of Duty will eventually no longer be a top selling franchise (to be honest, quicker than people think) because of two different developers making an almost identical game in alternating years. If we had a market that you're describing, you would have a lot more dead products and destroyed companies, which in turn hurts the free market.

Again, nothing about my statement has anything to do with "cheap knockoffs." You're creating a straw man and you are failing at it.

Nope, your just neglecting the way that humans have done things over the years I guess. You assume that if we had a Laissez-Faire market, people would make high quality clones all the time. As we have seen just be looking at China as well as companies outsourcing to other countries, that's not the way people do things. The bulk of clones these days are inferior. Your theory doesn't work, never has, never will. If my points are "straw man" points, your theory is a burning pile of hay.

You neglect to factor in the human nature of the capitalistic market and that's what makes allowing everyone to copy ideas not feasible.

Are you just typing random words in circles? In one comment you managed to argue against yourself several times, setting up one straw man, knocking it down and then setting up an entirely opposing straw man and knocking that one down, too.

AzrealMaximillion:
You assume that if we had a Laissez-Faire market, people would make high quality clones all the time.

AzrealMaximillion:
You may not have said anything about inferior clones

AzrealMaximillion:
Being stagnant is view negatively. Look at what happened to Guitar Hero. 23 Spinoffs within 5 years was what killed that craze. Profit wasn't even made off of the franchise due to excessive milkage. Look at how Call of Duty is looked upon now.

AzrealMaximillion:

My point is that if the product is a clone and not as good, it will not sell. Again, look at Guitar Hero and Call of Duty

Boudica:
If the product is bad, people won't buy it.

See right there? How, pray tell, does that infer me saying "people would only make high quality clones all the time"? It doesn't. Because I never said that. People don't buy clones? Call of Duty is a clone? One of the highest selling franchises of all time, people don't buy? It's another example of you saying (typing) words without actually thinking about the argument you are replying to.

"It's-a me, Mark!"

Zynga should sue

ripping people off whole sale is they're job

Congratulations, Boudica. You've hit a personal spot and now I feel obligated to add my two cents. Here goes:

My professional field is graphic design. It's a job that seems to be viewed as easy, useless, or deserving of little reward by most people. The biggest problem is that most people just don't seem to understand all of the hard work that goes into something as simple-looking as, let's say, a logo. We spend days, weeks, months, sometimes even years just researching everything we possibly can about the client's company and the people they are targeting. We spend countless hours sketching and scrapping ideas in an attempt to find that one perfect one. It's not JUST the logo either, we most likely also have to design stationery, signage, maybe even a whole new advertising campaign. It takes a huge amount of work, and it's all towards developing a brand. As designers, we also require a LOT of training in order to think and see things the way we're supposed to. It takes years to develop a good eye for graphic and spatial aesthetics.

The logo and branding is finally completed after all that work, and the new campaign goes live. It's a hit, and the client gathers in waves of new customers. The brand becomes synonymous with that company. All is well.

Now, let's say this free market of yours exists. Any person can look at the branding and say, "We have a similar company, but they're getting all of the customers. Let's do the same thing they're doing!" Next thing you know, this other company uses the same colours, the same typefaces, the same style, and the same personality as the original branding. They even do a remarkably similar logo. And it took them a few days to assemble everything. Since consumers have come to relate to that branding, they end up stealing business from the client.

We did all the work, did all the research, went through every possible concept until finding just the right one, and someone else just straight-up copied. Not to mention the client would've paid a LOT of money for a redesign of that magnitude, especially if it was from a respected design team.

This is why intellectual properties are important. People generally don't just have these great ideas pop into their head on a whim. I'm sure it does happen, but it's EXTREMELY rare. The same rules and ideas apply to game design. Developers don't just get one idea and roll with it, they have meeting after meeting and bounce ideas around. They do the research. They study the market. They try new things, many of which don't work. They scrap it and try something else. When they finally have their idea, then the game can actually be made.

In creative fields, the term "knowledge is power" is very true. When you copy ideas from other games, you're stealing countless hours of process work. It's not just a matter of actually building the game. I can draw up a logo on my computer in a couple of hours, but the process of getting to that point is always at least 90% of the work.

You may be entitled to your opinion, but opinions CAN be wrong. Remember that.

Boudica:
Are you just typing random words in circles? In one comment you managed to argue against yourself several times, setting up one straw man, knocking it down and then setting up an entirely opposing straw man and knocking that one down, too.

AzrealMaximillion:
You assume that if we had a Laissez-Faire market, people would make high quality clones all the time.

AzrealMaximillion:
You may not have said anything about inferior clones

AzrealMaximillion:
Being stagnant is view negatively. Look at what happened to Guitar Hero. 23 Spinoffs within 5 years was what killed that craze. Profit wasn't even made off of the franchise due to excessive milkage. Look at how Call of Duty is looked upon now.

AzrealMaximillion:

My point is that if the product is a clone and not as good, it will not sell. Again, look at Guitar Hero and Call of Duty

Boudica:
If the product is bad, people won't buy it.

See right there? How, pray tell, does that infer me saying "people would only make high quality clones all the time"? It doesn't. Because I never said that. People don't buy clones? Call of Duty is a clone? One of the highest selling franchises of all time, people don't buy? It's another example of you saying (typing) words without actually thinking about the argument you are replying to.

I think @AzrealMaximillion has a valid point, but he's not presenting it well enough. To understand it, lets make a few assumptions:

1) Humans have a natural drive to create and refine ideas. We crave novelty and enjoy fixing past mistakes.

2) It takes a significant amount of time and effort to create something novel or better than existing versions.

3) In a capitalistic economy, money provides the primary incentive to create.

Lets say you are a developer who has the resources and the knowhow to create a game. According to assumption 2, your primary incentive is to make money. In a laissez-faire market, you could quickly, easily, and with little cost, produce a copy of an existing game. The game is good, so you can't really hope to compete with it, but you can make a profit. To maximize you profits, you want to minimize your costs. To do this, you hack together the game as quickly as possible, cut corners in design, and don't test except for the most obvious of bugs (play-testing on actual people is out of the question). When the game comes out, it draws a sizable audience of mostly impulse purchases and purchases where the customer buys it by mistake. A couple months later, you can do the same with a different game, and make a profit on that.

Of course, not every developer will think along these lines, but this is the solution with the least risk and a reasonable profit, so naturally a large number of developers will take this route. Lets say that from 1 popular, original game which is published, 99 copies are made. From this maybe 80 to 90 of them are quick cash grabs as described above, and the rest are honest attempts at refining the original formula into something better than the original. So maybe one in every ten games you see which are centered around the original are any good; the rest are wastes of time. If they are all marketed in a similar fashion, then it comes down to chance whether a consumer plays a decent version of the game or not.

The audience targeted by the developers of the good versions doesn't typically take risks with the games they buy, and would rather wait for word of mouth to tell them whether the game is worth it. This is how cult classics like Psychonauts are born. They are good games, but they don't usually make enough money to warrant their existence because of assumption 2: it takes money and time to do things right. Even worse is the possibility that the studio who developed these good games might fold by the time enough copies are sold to satisfy development costs.

The market targeted by the other 80 to 90 developers, however, is one of impulse. The developers are likely to make back their initial investment plus a small profit just on these buys alone because development costs are so low. As such, they will continue making inferior copies. Overall, the market becomes saturated with cheap copies while the people who put time and effort are forced out of the business.

That's not to say a free market fails every time. Let's get rid of assumption 3, so that money is no longer an incentive to produce. Now, the only reason for people to come up with ideas is the intrinsic human drive to do so. Any developer who was focused before on creating cheap knock offs for profit can now instead work on improving existing ideas or creating novel ones. Now, instead of 100 copies of one game running around, you get maybe 10 really good versions of the same game, and 90 completely different games with widely varying ideas behind them. What's more, since the games are no longer competing directly against each other, some developers might decide to partner up to deliver a larger experience than would have otherwise been possible. This sort of thing exists in the current world: look at Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) like Linux, or big global projects like Wikipedia, or even the mountains of mods created by the community. They all show that it is possible to have a free market where unique, interesting things happen all the time.

Great things can be accomplished under this model, but it's not a cure-all solution. People still need to eat and pay bills. There aren't enough resources to go around, so we came up with the Capitalistic market. It's not perfect, but it's the best way we currently have of doing this. It's goal is to reward people who contribute to society as a whole (with the hope that they will continue to do so), and to punish people who are detrimental (in hopes they will stop). Maybe if we all had Star Trek style replicators, we could do away with it and live in a world where everything works like a free market - a global community of people creating new and interesting things every day, but it's not feasible today.

That's why I believe the laissez-faire market you suggest wouldn't work. In the short run, it might be somewhat successful, but in the long run, it'll tend to collapse on itself due to assumption 3.

Good god, that was longer than I expected it to be!

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