Cloning Is Still a Huge Problem, And There's No Good Solutions


The concept of game cloning is about as old as games themselves, but there's new, tricky territory to cover here in 2018. Inspired by a few tweets and a article profiling Voodoo—the mobile publisher behind, a game that sure takes "inspiration" from indie darling Donut County—we discussed the situation this week on Waypoint Radio. Join Patrick, Natalie, Rob, and myself as we look at the complications that separate genre and mechanical inspiration, the ethics of farming game ideas with a big checkbook, and the fear that this could have a chilling effect on the spirit of sharing and creativity in the indie space.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


I don’t know if I’m misremembering, but I thought was basically an clone with a less abstract skin on the mechanics. To say it, as a multiplayer, get biggest, fastest, game, is ripping off Donut County’s individually-distinct environments full of puzzles and character because they both position the player as a hole that grows when things drop into it seems odd.

That doesn’t necessarily make that developer look any better, but it seems like taking that skin wouldn’t be nearly as egregious as taking the concept underlying it (which then makes the gameplay I remember that much more suspicious, of course, but it’s important to be accurate about what they’re doing wrong).


Rob relentlessly giving Patrick shit over those ritzy indie devs with their publishers was hilarious throughout


I will say that seeing the word clone next to made me realize the game’s name refers to agar in a petri dish. A real phoenix down moment!


Hole was released in June, and Donut County was released in August. Donut County had been publicly announced for a while prior to its release. I cannot think of any other games in which the player takes the role of a hole swallowing up a town. The similarities and timing are incredibly suspect


Game cloning in the late 70s to early 80s was everywhere. But, looking back at that era did any of those clones overshadow the original games? That seems like a far greater danger for developers today. The current “gaming” audience is way larger and seemingly less informed than the pre-internet geeks of yesterday. Plus video games used to to be dependent on physical delivery. Arcade cabinet, cartridge, ect. Thanks to digital distribution an actual “unicorn” has a very small window in which it could secure it’s place in the gaming mindshare before a clone gave that security a run for it’s money.