How Reddit Helped a Game Developer Fight a Rip-Off
Ben Huxter, creative director of a two-brother studio in Australia called MiniMega Games, posted a series of screenshots in r/IndieGaming on July 30 titled “So someone stole a bunch of artwork from my game and made a dodgy copy version. Not sure how I should feel.”
Huxter’s game, SLAP!, is a digital, less painful version of the classic children’s hand-slapping game, with some cute upgrades like Zombie mode and Feral mode (the latter uses cat paws). He released the original version for iOS and Android in January 2012 and an HD version for iOS in May of that year.
According to Huxter’s timeline that he later posted on Reddit, TomKid Game released an imposter app on Android in December 2012, which he discovered a few months later. (Here’s a link to the TomKid Game version, which can no longer be downloaded.)
“Initially I was flattered that someone had created a copycat version and I was happy for him to carry on as long as it didn’t affect our downloads,” Huxter told Mashable via email. “It was only after I realized the impostor game was making money that I decided to act.”
Huxter said he reached out to the developer, who promised to take the game down from Google Play.
“Admittedly, the concept for SLAP! is not original. We simply took an existing ‘real life’ game mechanic and remixed it to tell a new story,” Huxter wrote in the email. “Picasso himself said ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal.’ The basic fundamentals of creativity require inspiration from others. We copy what other people do all of the time, it’s only when someone copies us that we feel territorial. With this in mind, I think it’s up to the individual to decide how territorial to feel.”
A few days later, the game was still live in Google Play, so Huxter turned to Reddit. After several upvotes and useful comments, the issue escalated to bigger subreddit, r/Gaming, where it then moved to Reddit’s front page. Redditors suggested that Huxter file a DMCA takedown request with Google, while others petitioned as many people as possible to download the original SLAP! HD in solidarity.
Others contacted TomKid Games, adding pressure to take the game down.
“I think some people took it upon themselves to help me out,” Huxter said. ” I can’t say whether that directly contributed to the result but I assume the message got through.”
On Aug. 1, a TomKid developer reached out to Huxter and said he took game down. He signed the email, “And I hope we can make friends:)”.
Huxter said he loved the way Reddit came together to support him, but he hopes no one was hurt in the process.
“I’d like to be clear that I harbour no animosity toward the company or the individual that created the app,” he told Mashable. “It wasn’t my intention to start a global witch hunt, I wish him well with his games in the future.”
Huxter said that he also used this as a learning experience to translate SLAP! into Chinese, since that was where demand for the counterfeit version stemmed from.
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Image: Minimega Games