We’ve all heard stories of guys in college making a flash game and it getting picked up and then the guys become semi-famous (or at least infamous) game designers for their creative game design. Many simple flash games have been picked up by sites like PopCap or Kongregate and made their designers a few thousand bucks. Even “redesigns” of already developed games get picked up. For example PopCap discovered an independently developed version of “Bejeweled” game, called “Besharded” designed by Michael Fromwiller, a junior at San Jose University. Jason Kapalka, co-founder and chief creative officer for PopCap’s gaming site, then contacted him and asked him to develop an official game.
The Wall Street Journal has just picked up on the whole indy/cheap games phenomenon and wrote up a piece on it. While most of it is stuff that gamers already know (casual games are big, developers are looking for smaller budget games, etc.) they did dig up an interesting little fact in their talks with gaming sites and developers. It seems that “PopCap and other companies have found that it’s more effective to enlist the help of developers who create copycat programs instead of prosecuting them for copyright violation.” So go forth and mimic to the point of copyright violation. It could actually land you a job.
It’s actaully interesting to see how smaller, cheap games that are free have led to a more open and creative enviroment for game development. The article talks mostly about how companies are looking for easy to produce games that won’t bankrupt them, but it doesn’t discuss how the lack of millions of dollars being spent on game development also makes developers more easy going. It stands to reason that the less money spent on a game the less stuck up a developer will be about someone mimicing it, creating an industry that is far more hospitable to creative design and competition. Go internet!