Casual games publisher Voodoo's Hole.io is a clone of upcoming iOS release Donut County, according to the latter game's indie developer Ben Esposito.
The dev took to Twitter to air his grievances over Voodoo copying Donut County’s gameplay premise, which is a hole in the ground that grows larger as it swallows more items.
Esposito also mentioned that he felt compelled to speak after Voodoo received a $200 million investment from Goldman Sachs' private equity fund, meaning there may well be an increase in this kind of activity.
Hole.io is currently sitting at the top of the App Store free-to-play charts.
“It stings a little after five-plus years of convincing people a game about a hole in the ground is a good idea,” wrote Esposito.
“I can’t do anything about them stealing my thunder, really. I’m [going to] focus my energy into finishing Donut County.”
hey all, i didn’t think it was possible but my upcoming game @donutcounty now has a cheap clone at the top of the app store lol. here’s more info.— ben esposito (@torahhorse) 25 June 2018
thanks to everyone who emailed me about this!! to get updates on the real deal sign up at https://t.co/b4cl57Pcgl pic.twitter.com/hjvUIrgJan
Attack of the clones
Voodoo has garnered a reputation for creating very similar free-to-play versions of independent games. Voodoo’s Infinite Golf and the Fish master is likened to Captain Games’ Desert Golfing and Vlambeer’s Ridiculous Fishing.
However while Esposito believes the game to be a copy he also notes there are differences.
“Donut County is a story-based puzzle game, and Hole.io combines the premise of Donut County [...] with the ‘.io’ king of the hill formula,” wrote Esposito.
The issue of cloning is a widespread problem for indie games developers on mobile.
In a recent interview with PocketGamer.Biz, indie dev Zach Gage explained that cloners typically swipe mechanics from premium games and apply them to free-to-play titles.
In his own experience, he found that his games were easy to clone as the ideas were complex but the execution was relatively simple.
“People can clone my games fairly quickly,” said Gage.
“When I released Sage Solitaire a clone of it was released on Android within 24 hours, which is pretty staggering.”