Indie Gem J.S. Joust Is Flagrantly Cloned [Update]

Illustration for article titled Indie Gem emJ.S. Joust/em Is Flagrantly Cloned [Update]

Die Gute Fabrik's hugely enjoyable screenless indie game Johann Sebastian Joust is the latest victim of app-store cloning. An iOS game called Papa Quash released yesterday apes not only Joust's core mechanical idea, but shamelessly lifts its marketing, imagery, and overall vibe.

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Both Joust and now Papa Quash are games that are played outside of the screen—players all jostle and attempt to knock one another off balance, and their status is monitored by a PSMove controller (Joust) or an iPhone (Papa Quash).

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It may sound like an idea that's difficult to claim ownership of. But let's put questions of legality aside for the time being and just watch the two games' trailers:


Here's the promotional video for Joust, which centers around demonstrating the rules while showing people playing in the street. I've seen many a Joust game in process, and their feel, look and pace feels distinctive and fresh. It's like some sort of weird, slow-mo dance, and unlike any game—video game or otherwise—I've ever seen.


Here's the trailer for Papa Quash. Note how it lifts not just the rules of Joust but the entire vibe—except for the wub-wub music, if you just replaced the iPhones with Move controllers, this may as well be a trailer for Joust.

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Gamasutra spoke with a representative from Ustwo, the company who published Papa Quash. Ustwo director of marketing director Steve Bittan essentially redirected the blame for the clone on to its developer, Sam Pepper, claiming that "It's not a Ustwo app. It's a Sam Pepper App," and saying that Pepper had emailed Die Gute Fabrik to tell them about Papa Quash and get them to OK it.

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Die Gute Fabrik has not yet issued a statement, saying only that they would have an official response tonight, and saying on Twitter, "Just to be clear, we have never and would never approve, give permission, or encourage anyone to clone of any of our games."

Kotaku has reached out to both Die Gute Fabrik and Sam Pepper and will update this story if and when we hear back.

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Update: The Appside is reporting that Ustwo has pulled Papa Quash from the App store.

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DISCUSSION

FrankieViturello
FrankieViturello

Eh, I'm sure I'm not going to be in the vocal majority here ... but shameless genre aping has existed since the dawn of this industry.

Personally I have no desire to jump through the hoops to set up everything needed on my computer (installing custom Move interface drivers, etc) and buy more Move controllers than I already own to play J.S. Joust with a bunch of friends ... from what I can tell, the game isn't even readily available to the public.

However, I DO know a bunch of people with iPhones and iOS devices that would enjoy this and it requires next to NO setup. It's a free app, it's out now, so Sam Pepper really is just ahead of the curve in taking a concept he saw elsewhere and getting to market with it FIRST.

Nothing seems to be stopping the developer of J.S. Joust from adapting/releasing an iOS version. I encourage and support their right to do that and allow the public to ultimately decide which is the superior product. Getting in some kind of war over this is going to be a waste of time and energy better spent on finishing development of their game.