Blek is one of the better examples of a game built with a touchscreen in mind, so much so that Apple awarded the title one of its coveted design awards earlier this year. In the world of mobile games it's no surprise that Blek's success would lead to imitators, but a recent release on the App Store has raised eyebrows for being particularly egregious: it's even called Cloned Blek. The free-to-play title features the same core mechanic as Blek, but with crude graphics and plenty of ads.
"The quality of the clones is just terrible."
Apple has described Blek as having "meticulously minimalist design akin to modern art," calling it "a perfect representation of touchscreen play." It's success was even more impressive as it was the very first release from a team of two brothers based in Austria. It has been downloaded more than one million times on iOS. The clone, however, provides yet another example of the troubling nature of mobile-game clones, and Blek is far from the first: popular titles like Threes and Flappy Bird have both recently seen plentiful clones. In some cases Apple eventually steps in, as it did with Flappy Bird, but it's typically a slow process. Previous releases from Cloned Blek developer Coffee House Apps include a Flappy Bird clone set in the Amazon.
Many of these clones are built using cloned source code that can be purchased for relatively cheap: a single app license for the source code of a Blek clone, for example, can be had for $199. For the original developers, the problem is not just that copycat versions of their games are out in the wild, but also that they're generally awful. "I mean, the quality of the clones is just terrible," says Blek developer Denis Mikan. "The complete lack of ethics is one thing, but there are OpenGL tutorials out there."
While it is perhaps the most blatant, the most recent Blek clone is far from the first. Several games have previously appeared in the app store that feature either a similar name or icon. By filing complaints through Apple, Blek studio Kunabi Brother has managed to force the majority of these games to change their names or icon. It's a strategy they will continue to utilize going forward, and the team is taking the current situation in stride. "I could easily get frustrated every day," says Mikan, "but it wouldn't help me at all."
We've reached out to Apple for comment.