How can game developers avoid cloning?

The mobile and social gaming industry is experiencing an invasion of clones. While cloning has a long and varied history, it has become more prevalent with the explosion of social and mobile games. As development times decrease and the useful lifetime of games diminishes, cloning has become more lucrative: games are easier to copy and there are more of them to clone.

Historically, developers have used copyrights and patents to protect video games. Copyright protection can extend to the expressive, non-functional elements of a game, such as audiovisual display and the underlying source code, but not the ideas behind the game itself. Patent protection extends to the functional aspects of games, such as game play mechanics. But both copyright and patent laws tend to favor would-be copiers, rather than game developers. While traditional game developers may have had the resources to engage in costly legal battles and reasonably expected a long stream of revenue from popular games that justified the expense that is not the situation in which most game developers find themselves today. In addition, the costs of being the victim of cloning has increased as developers invest more and more into marketing their games, only to see knockoffs emerge after a game reaches threshold popularity… Read more

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