We’re all acquainted with bad games. No, not the ones that are bad in a fun way, like the FMV catastrophes from decades past. Games that are just out and out bad. Something like Legendary on the 360 comes to mind. Games like that are a tragedy. It’s different when games are not only bad, but unoriginal. That’s the case with Serbian developer Cypronia.
Cypronia is the maker of fine titles as My Style Studio: Notebook (a notebook simulator), Cube Life: Island Survival, a whole cloth clone of Minecraft (because those are still coming out), and Angry Bunnies. You figure out what that one is.
If you happen to be interested, Cypronia is offering 100 free games each week. All you have to do is follow them on Facebook and Twitter and snag a download code to be redeemed in the Nintendo eShop. They have been running this promotion since Easter and are actually behind on the number of codes they were scheduled to give away.
This might be just the time to jump on this offer! Who knows, you could have your very own FREE copy of My Style Studio: Notebook!
Joking aside, this kind of boldfaced copying of successful games is enough to turn a person’s stomach. Whenever there is success, there will always be someone on the sideline waiting to make a derivative version in hopes of snatching a quick buck. This kind of thing is slimy business yet it always seems to rear its head. When it’s video games, though, it feels so much worse.
Trying to repackage someone’s successful idea hits the video game world harder than it does other media, say, music or movies. Moreover, this kind of flooding is the kind of thing that cripples a young medium like video games. Have we all forgotten about the video game crash of 1983? That was an industry crash that was hailed the death of video games. The market was so flooded with trash that people became fed up and simply stopped buying games.
Forbes ran an article outlining two of the main reasons why trying to rip off the success of others will not end in success for you. To my surprise, the fact that it is a greasy, sleazy thing to do is not one of them. Maybe it’s an implicit thing.
You are not them, Forbes says, and they are not you. According to Forbes, Cypronia (or any game developer riding the coat tails of successful game makers) are not those game makers. Plain and simple.
Breaking this down a little, what this is saying is that while someone like Cypronia can make something that looks a lot like Minecraft, they don’t have the experience of someone like Notch. They don’t have the strength of personality, the contacts, or the network. The “secret sauce” of what made Minecraft become a titan was the innumerable number of tiny quirks that went into it. A newcomer can’t come close to understanding the years it took to lovingly craft a successful game.
In addition to Cypronia not being the other guy, the other guy is not Cypronia. This is the simple lesson we’ve been taught since grade school. A business trying to force itself into a standard model so that it can be successful just doesn’t work. Still, you see it every day on Steam’s new releases page and in the app store.
Trying to fit yourself into another person’s model is not only a jack move to them, it hurts you, too. You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole. To go back to the “secret sauce” motif, Notch used his skills to start a grassroots movement that Cypronia can’t approach. But Cypronia no doubt has a completely different blend of sauce that Notch doesn’t have. Maybe someone on their staff is an excellent writer. Or maybe someone is a really good composer. They could have made the next narrative driven art came. It doesn’t matter now, though, because they sacrificed what made them special to try to recreate Minecraft.
After school special
In a way, I can understand the allure of jumping on the bandwagon of popular games. When you see something that people really like, and you like yourself, it’s easy to say “Whoa, I should do that! But in the end, not to sound like an after-school special, just be yourself.
Crafting your own niche and polishing it to a mirror sheen is what will make your product stand out to audiences, and buy you credibility with them. It’s how games like Minecraft and Angry Birds became popular.
It’s no doubt intimidating to swim in an ocean of innovative game developers. Knowing that you’ll need to work hard to make a unique product has got to be a scary thing. But in the end, that’s what makes video games such a great industry. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.