It’s the age old rivalry that plagues the Indie game development industry (or more specifically the game development forums). In fact though, I actually think it’s mainly a one way thing: idealists attacking cloners – the idealists feel they have to bitch about clones but the cloners don’t seem to have much to bitch about (apart from why their clone isn’t selling as well as another clone).
Anyway, I was talking to my partner, Helen, tonight about the two opposing camps of indie developers. There’s the cloners who seem to be in it for the money and the idealists who are doing it for art of whatever. She pointed out that if you make a clone, and you enjoy making it and people enjoy playing it, then what’s the problem? You’ve delivered value and made money from it, fine. If people sit around criticising cloners and say they’d never lower themselves to such a thing and then never actually produce anything, then it’s just all about their ego – they aren’t delivering any value anywhere. If you manage to combine “high ideals” AND you make a game, then even better, good for you – but don’t expect it to sell unless you are delivering what a large number of people like (to spend money on) and not just what you like. Of course you can always release it for free so your work is out there – but these days it takes a really large effort to finish a decent game so you’d have to be ultra dedicated to do it just for fun; and whereas a lot of us might like to think we are dedicated enough to do that, the obvious reality is that we are not. Shame, but there you go.
At the end of the day, the portal owners can sit there content in the knowledge that they are doing very well from selling clones no matter what the idealists say. Some idealists say the market will self-implode, but I think this is wishful thinking on their part. Cloning exists in music, movies, books, food, clothes, mainstream games etc. and has done for years. People like familiarity.