My colleague rightly pointed out that you should stop your belly-aching and pay for your apps. I agree but there’s something else you should do - stop buying or downloading apps that are ripping off others.
Games like Threes! don’t happen because its developers had a eureka moment, nor is it a fluke. It’s a painstaking process, one that requires them to go back to the drawing board, experiencing countless errors and failures before they get it right. It took developers Asher Vollmer and Greg Wohlwend a whole year before Threes! became the phenomenal maths game it is today.
A whole year’s of work, and the app costs a mere S$1.28. For a game that keeps you glued to the screen for hours, Vollmer and Wohlwend weren’t asking a lot for their creative work.
But in less than a month, they were robbed of their money, and more importantly, their idea. Free clone versions such as 1024 and 2048 began to appear on the App Store and Play Store. Think about it, if you see a S$1.28 Threes! and a free 2048, it’s pretty obvious that the free app gets the download.
What’s not obvious is that for each download you give to 1024 or 2048, it’s one less that pays the bills for the developers of Threes! and doesn’t reaffirm the originality of the unbelievable simple yet challenging maths game. Much like movies and music that are downloaded for free illegally when legit options to purchase them exist, you’re doing the same to the developers.
Admittedly, this is very telling of how people aren’t discerning enough to avoid downloading a app that blatantly rips off a unique concept, just for the sake of saving that S$1.28. I’ll admit, I’m stingy when it comes to buying apps or games. But that's very different from downloading an alternative and poor copy. I believe in rewarding developers who come up with insanely great, and at times addictive, games with my precious and limited (true story, there's just too many bills to pay) monthly salary.
Ultimately, this isn’t a story that’ll shame you into paying for apps. It’s about supporting great content and saying no to unscrupulous developers who openly copy and pass off ideas as their own.
Think it doesn’t matter if the original app was free to begin with? Wrong. Three years ago, NimbleBit’s tower simulator Tiny Tower, which was free on iOS and Android, was also ripped off as Dream Heights by game company Zynga.
I’m not a developer, but as a content producer, it’s not hard to understand the pain of seeing your work being copied without getting due credit. One could do what NimbleBit’s three-man development team did - calling out copycats with a tongue-in-cheek infographic. On your end, do your part, treat clone apps like the plague and stop downloading them.
And if you haven’t download Threes! yet, drop everything right now and get it on iOS. It’s cheaper than a cup of joe from Starbucks and more effective at keeping you awake with its addictive gameplay.
[Image credit: Nimblebit]