You may recall my recent review of the physics-based game Achilles’ Defense. Well, it turns out that game was allegedly not created by PTT-Solutions. It appears it was stolen from the original developer, IronHide Game Studio. I’m not talking about a rip off of a version. I’m talking about a shot-by-shot, song-by-song complete theft of IronHide Game Studios’ flashed-based game, Clash of the Olympians. Outright theft like this is becoming more, and more common in the iTunes store and Apple, Inc. doesn’t seem to feel it warrants any kind of punishment for the offending companies.
When I found out about this information, I was livid and embarrassed that I raved about a game that was stolen. The thought that even one penny was spent on Achilles’ Defense at my recommendation makes me want to puke.
This isn’t the first time a shady company has stolen a game from a developer and called it their own. A few months back, Halfbot had the exact same incident with their game, The Blocks Cometh. In fact, by just looking up stolen apps in Google’s search engine, I found several articles about companies stealing games from developers and submitting them to iTunes as their own.
I contacted IronHide Game Studio regarding their experience. Pablo Realini, one of the company’s founders, said that PTT-Solutions’ game developer would have had to decompile their game in order to gain their assets. This is intentionally fraudulent behavior, not even a copycat. Clash of the Olympians was released in August of 2010 at the company’s website, ironhidegames.com. Achilles’ Defense didn’t show up in iTunes until the end of April 2011. PTT-Solutions did not return my request for comment on these allegations.
When asked about how the developers feel about game theft, Realini stated, “We think it is terrible these kind of things happen, we are just a few guys trying to make a living out of games. People stealing our work can really hurt us.”
According to their blog roll, other than a form letter, IronHide Games has still not been contacted by Apple Inc., but Achilles’ Defense is no longer available in iTunes. IronHide Game Studios believes that this action was not the effect of Apple’s authority, but the company itself removing the app voluntarily after an internet campaign against the thieves went out across as many review websites, social networking forums and comment sections that were possible.
Halfbot had a similar experience with the response from Apple Inc. They received a one-sentence form letter stating that they had contacted the developer, nothing else.
Derek Laufman, one of Halfbot’s founders, said in an email, “We were happy that the game was eventually pulled down. However, we were very unhappy about the lack of communication and response from Apple in regards to this matter. Not to mention that the guilty party is still freely selling games in the app store which are most likely stolen properties as well.”
Both of the alleged offending companies still have apps available in iTunes. They have not suffered one bit of punishment for their crime. Considering Apple’s reputation for being control freaks, it seems odd that they would let these kinds of actions slide by without repercussions.
I contacted Apple Inc. to ask for information as to how they deal with these types of situations and have not heard back from them at this time. In their defense, I only gave them one day’s notice. I will update if I hear from them.
Apple is not to blame for predatory actions of immoral companies who steal from creators. There is no way to know if a game has been stolen when Apple’s review team approves it. There should, however, be a better policy at the company for how to respond to developers who have been stolen from. It is as if they are trying to sweep the whole mess quietly under the rug without creating too much attention. Meanwhile, thieves go on thieving because they know they won’t suffer any consequences for their actions.
Laufman recommends that game developers beware, “The only advice we can offer developers is to be very cautious about creating a flash game. They are very easily [sic] to steal and it’s becoming a frightening trend.”
One comment by an anonymous poster to IronHide Game Studios’ post about the situation sums it up pretty clearly,
“Runners of said company are all in it for the quick buck, a buncha slimey thugs with zero ethics but has a ton of money and power to run companies as they chose fit. I hope you guys sort it out, I am tired of seeing the clone wars rampant in this industry.”
Here, here anonymous. Here, here.