With the recent spate of cloned game stories -- namely those alleged
to be the work
-- Kill Screen
has put together an interesting article about the legality of the practice and its effects on the industry. In short, cloning an entire game and stealing its assets is illegal. However, cloning a game's ideas
is not -- see Scrabble
vs. Words with Friends
-- and, while it can be morally repugnant, it can also be healthy for the industry.
Game designers "borrow" from one another all the time, taking mechanics from successful games and implementing them elsewhere -- think stealth, cover-based shooting, power meters, triple jumps. That said, outright cloning is still a problem, one Kill Screen asserts we can address with education and a few notes from the fashion industry. In other words, teach consumers how to tell the difference between a knock-off and the real thing.